Voters in several states nationwide head to the polls in primaries and in a special general congressional election in Texas on Tuesday, further testing former President Donald Trump’s endorsement strength and perhaps foreshadowing a looming red wave in November. Primaries in South Carolina, Nevada, Maine, and North Dakota take center stage on Tuesday night, as does a special congressional general election in Texas.
In South Carolina, two hotly contested congressional primaries have Trump facing off against incumbent Republicans. In the first district, Trump has endorsed Katie Arrington against Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC). Mace, who has the support of former governor and United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, has sharply criticized Trump in routine television appearances and has voted for a number of controversial things, such as January 6 committee contempt proceedings against former Trump officials. For Arrington, a win would put her back on track to win a seat she was the nominee for in 2018, but lost to now former Democrat Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC). Arrington’s loss came not just amid that year’s blue wave, but also after she had shocked the world and defeated then-Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC)–the former governor who resigned that office amid a sex scandal then orchestrated his own comeback years earlier–to only days after the primary survive a deadly car accident that immobilized her for most of that year’s general election.
Elsewhere in South Carolina, Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC)–one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump the second time after the events of Jan. 6, 2021–is in grave danger of losing to state Rep. Russell Fry in the primary. Trump, who backed Fry, could take out the first of these ten impeachment Republicans at the ballot box with a candidate he endorsed here. Several other impeachment Republicans–Reps. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Fred Upton (R-MI), and John Katko (R-NY)–called it quits without even facing voters. Only Rep. David Valadao (R-CA)–who did not face a Trump-backed primary challenger, even though he had a weak challenger–has survived a primary among the impeachment Republicans, and Valadao seems to get a pass from many Republicans given the competitiveness of his district. If Rice goes down, that would make him the first impeachment Republican to go down by the hands of voters, and would also mean 50 percent of the ten have already gone down about 18 months after the vote, with several others in serious trouble–most notably Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY).
Out in the Silver State, Nevada GOP primary voters will select their nominees in two banner top-of-the-ticket races–for governor and for U.S. Senate. Trump has weighed in here in both races, backing Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo for governor and former Nevada attorney general Adam Laxalt for U.S. Senate. GOP primaries in the First, Third, and Fourth Congressional Districts could also set the stage for a red tsunami in November, as all three of these U.S. House seats held by Democrats are viewed by analysts as probably competitive in November, especially with close statewide races.
In Maine, former GOP Gov. Paul LePage is formally seeking the GOP nomination for governor again and former Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME) seeks to return to Congress to represent the all-important Second Congressional District. This is a district Republicans view as particularly competitive, as Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) has made clear with his voting record–which breaks with national Democrat leaders more than any other Democrat currently in Congress–and as evidenced by the fact Trump won it in both 2016 and 2020. Maine splits its electoral votes by congressional district in presidential elections–the only other state that does that is Nebraska–so Trump actually won one vote from Maine both times thanks to the Second Congressional District voters. North Dakotans will also vote on Tuesday, and while there are no major national races there, the state could provide some signs of intensity going into November.
Perhaps most importantly on Tuesday, voters in Texas’s 34th Congressional District will vote in a special congressional election. The district was represented by Democrat Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX), who bailed on national Democrats early to go work for lobbyist firm Akin Gump, a move that set up this special election. Republicans are hopeful they can flip this seat on Tuesday, with Hispanic candidate Mayra Flores leading the charge in recent polling that has her close to winning it outright. If she gets more than 50 percent of the vote, she will avoid a runoff–but she does appear per polling to be in the lead regardless. If she wins without a runoff, this would be the first seat Republicans have flipped back from Democrats into GOP hands since the November 2020 elections–and could foreshadow things to come in November. What’s more, Flores would enter the general election with the power of incumbency in a district that will be decidedly more Democrat-friendly in November, thanks to redistricting–this special election is under the old lines–as she faces off there against Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) who switched districts, abandoning his old one to run here instead in November. This could also set the tone for GOP gains with Hispanic voters along the border, and comes just weeks after the tragic shooting at an elementary school in nearby Uvalde, Texas.
The polls close in South Carolina at 7:00 p.m. ET, Maine and Texas at 8:00 p.m. ET, Nevada at 10:00 p.m. ET, and the hours vary in North Dakota by county.
Follow along here for live updates as the results pour in from across the country.
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