Category Archives: Election Analysis

Incumbent Trend Could Soon Turn

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, June 6, 2024

Incumbents

New Jersey freshman Rep. Rob Menendez (D-Jersey City)

We have now seen primary elections held in 22 states, meaning electorates in a majority of 242 US House districts have chosen their general election nominees, and we have yet to see one incumbent lose renomination to a challenger. Alabama Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) did lose to Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise), but that was due to an incumbent pairing from a court-ordered redistricting directive.

Earlier in the week, New Jersey US Rep. Rob Menendez (D-Jersey City) defeated his Democratic challenger, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, by a 54-36 percent margin in a race that polling and fundraising suggested would be close. To date, it appeared that Rep. Menendez was the most vulnerable House incumbent standing for renomination, but in the end he easily repelled the strong challenge.

Menendez, a freshman member of the New Jersey delegation, saw his favorability numbers tumble as a result of his father, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and step-mother being indicted for bribery.

With Menendez and Iowa Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-LeClair) and Randy Feenstra (R-Hull/Sioux City) winning their primaries on Tuesday, we’ve now seen the incumbents going nine for nine in non-jungle partisan primaries when facing a reasonably credible intra-party opponent. At least another 16 challenges are on tap in the remaining primaries.

The strong incumbent performances suggest we may be seeing early signs that the 2024 election cycle will be similar to 2022. In an election year when polling suggested that the public overwhelmingly believed, and still does, that the country is on the wrong track, and moving in the wrong direction, the voting public then turned around and re-elected virtually every incumbent on the ballot.

Two years ago, 56 senators and governors from both parties ran for re-election; 55 won. In the House, the incumbent retention rate for those seeking re-election was 98.1 percent. These are unusual statistics for an electorate demanding a change in public policy. Though we see the same unrest regarding government policies today, the early voting pattern suggests that, so far, we again see the juxtaposition of incumbents having a strong year even though the electorate is generally displeased.

The trend may soon change, however. Two of the most vulnerable incumbents facing primary challenges are on the ballot this month. Reps. Bob Good (R-VA) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) look to be in serious trouble as their respective primaries loom on the near horizon — June 18 for Good and a week later in Bowman’s case.

Rep. Good’s opponent is state senator and retired Navy SEAL John McGuire, who brandishes an endorsement from former President Donald Trump. Since Good was one of the key Republican House members behind the ouster of then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, another source of opposition is present. Thus, Rep. Good not only faces a Trump endorsement going against him, which has more often than not been golden in a Republican primary, but McCarthy is assisting in directing outside money to help ensure the congressman’s defeat.

Furthermore, competing in a primary is something new for Rep. Good. Previously, he won his nominations through a district party convention before a small number of delegates who favored him. Therefore, facing a credible opponent with backing from national party leaders in an unfamiliar election structure could well be enough to deny Congressman Good renomination.

Rep. Bowman is facing an even more difficult opponent than Good. George Latimer is the Westchester County Executive who represents 91 percent of Bowman’s 16th Congressional District’s constituency in his current position. Before being elected County Executive, Latimer served in the state Senate and Assembly. Latimer has also raised about $1 million more than Rep. Bowman, and even has the endorsement of one of the congressman’s fellow “Squad” members.

Former Rep. Mondaire Jones (D), who represented the adjoining Westchester County congressional district for a term, was a “Squad” member, and is trying to come back in this election. Earlier this week, Jones endorsed Latimer, a former employer, and publicly dispelled Bowman’s comments that Latimer is a racist.

Only two polls of this race have been released, and those were back in March. One showed the two men virtually tied, while the other yielded Latimer a 17-point lead. Yet, Bowman has not produced any countervailing data in the succeeding weeks.

Ironically, both Good and Bowman came to office by deposing an incumbent from their own party. Good, via the district convention, unseated freshman Rep. Denver Riggleman in 2020, while Bowman defeated veteran Congressman Eliot Engel in the Democratic primary of the same year. Now, both men could see the tables turn on themselves very soon.

Yesterday’s Primary Results

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Primary Results

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-LeClaire) wins tight primary race.

Iowa: Closer Results Than Expected — In the 1st Congressional District, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-LeClaire) only scored a 56-44 percent renomination victory over businessman David Pautsch, who attacked over a series of her centrist votes. Pautsch had raised just $35,000 through the May 15 pre-primary disclosure period. Therefore, him holding Miller-Meeks to only 56 percent within her own party suggests significant incumbent weakness for the general election.

In the state’s western district, two-term Rep. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull/Sioux City) only scored a 60 percent win over former CIA agent Kevin Virgil who was backed by many of former US Rep. Steve King’s supporters. Rep. Feenstra holds Iowa’s safest congressional district and will now have little trouble winning a third term in November.

In the most competitive seat, the Des Moines-anchored 3rd District, Rep. Zach Nunn (R-Bondurant) will face former Department of Agriculture official Lanon Baccam, who scored an easy 84 percent victory in the Democratic primary. In 2022, Nunn nipped two-term incumbent Cindy Axne (D) with a less than a one-point margin.

Montana: No Surprises — Last evening in Montana went as expected. Sen. Jon Tester (D) and Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) both easily won renomination. Overall, Republican participation was greater as one would expect based upon vote trends from elections after 2012. Approximately 57 percent of those who cast a ballot in the primary did so on the Republican side.

Sen. Tester will now officially face retired Navy SEAL and aerospace company CEO Tim Sheehy (R) in the general election for what will be one of the most important Senate races on anyone’s ballot.

In the open 2nd District, State Auditor Troy Downing defeated former US Rep. Denny Rehberg, ex-DEA agent Stacy Zinn, and state superintendent for Public Instruction to score a 37-17-15-9 percent Republican primary victory. As the new 2nd District Republican nominee, Downing is virtually assured of succeeding retiring Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive) in the safely Republican eastern Montana congressional district.

New Jersey: Rep. Menendez Wins — After being outspent and trailing in an early poll, freshman New Jersey US Rep. Rob Menendez (D-Jersey City) defended himself last night against a serious challenge from Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla to record a 54-36 percent renomination victory. In a seat that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+47, the congressman’s primary win has unofficially secured him a second term. He also overcame the baggage he inherited from his father, Sen. Bob Menendez, and the latter’s criminal indictment and trial.

In the open Garden State Senate race, as predicted, US Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) easily won the Democratic primary, scoring 75 percent of the vote against two minor candidates. Republicans nominated real estate developer Curtis Bashaw with approximately 46 percent of the vote against three GOP opponents. Bashaw will advance to the general election against Rep. Kim and Sen. Menendez who is running as an Independent.

In Rep. Kim’s open 3rd District, also as expected, state Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-Delran) looks to have topped state Assemblywoman Carol Murphy (D-Mt. Laurel) by a 2:1 margin. Conaway will now have a relatively easy ride in the general election from a seat that redistricting transformed into a likely Democratic domain. The FiveThirtyEight organization rates NJ-3 as D+9.

New Mexico: Senate & House Races — All major candidates unopposed in both New Mexico and South Dakota; there was no drama in either state, and obviously no close results.

The New Mexico Senate race will feature Sen. Martin Heinrich (D) and former hedge fund executive Nella Domenici (R), the daughter of the late Sen. Pete Domenici (R). Unsurprisingly, turnout favored the Democrats last night, and though the Senate race has the underpinnings of a race that could be competitive, Sen. Heinrich remains a clear favorite for re-election.

Another major contest will be the rematch between 2nd District US Rep. Gabe Vasquez (D-Las Cruces) and former Rep. Yvette Herrell (R). The two battled to a close finish in 2022, with the challenger unseating the incumbent by less than a percentage point in a district redrawn to elect a Democrat. The rematch will be highly competitive and a race that will go a long way toward determining which party controls the next House majority.

South Dakota: Two Statewide Races — The only two statewide races will be the presidential and US House races. Both congressional candidates were unopposed yesterday, so we will see Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-Mitchell) defend his seat against retired school employee Sheryl Johnson (D). The congressman should have little trouble securing a fourth term in November.

Today’s Primaries

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Another primary day occurs today, and this time voters in Iowa, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota will complete their 2024 nomination process.

Iowa

Iowa Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Le Claire)

The Hawkeye State US House incumbents do not face any serious challenges, but three of their four seats are extremely important to the House Republicans’ chances of holding their slim majority.

In the 1st District, a rematch of the 2022 campaign that saw Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Le Claire) defeat then-state Rep. Christina Bohannan (D) by a 53-46 percent count, is on tap for November. We can expect another competitive general election with Rep. Miller-Meeks favored to win. Congresswoman Miller-Meeks faces only minor primary opposition tonight.

Second District Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids) sees a new opponent emerge in 2024, businesswoman Sarah Corkery (D). Both women are unopposed in their respective primaries. Rep. Hinson will be the clear favorite to claim a third term in November.

The state’s Des Moines-anchored 3rd District is the pure toss-up CD. Rep. Zach Nunn (R-Bondurant) nipped two-term incumbent Cindy Axne (D) in 2022 with a less than one-point margin spread. Axne, who accepted an appointment in the Biden Administration, is not returning for a rematch. Democrats Lanon Baccam, the Department of Agriculture’s former Deputy Under Secretary, and non-profit executive Melissa Vine are battling for the Democratic nomination. Baccam is favored to win, and we can expect the 3rd District to again become the site of a very close congressional race.

In the western Iowa 4th District, two-term Rep. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull/Sioux City) has little to worry about in tomorrow’s primary or the general election.

Montana

Turning to Big Sky Country, Sen. Jon Tester (D) and Republican challenger Tim Sheehy both will overcome minor primary challenges and proceed into one of the most important Senate general elections in the nation. The winner of this race will go a long way to determining the next Senate majority.

Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) is also on the ballot running for a second four-year term. He also has only minor primary opposition and will likely cruise to re-election in November.

In the 1st Congressional District, we will likely see voters renominate both US Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Whitefish) and Democrat Monica Tranel who held the former to a closer than expected 50-46 percent result. The congressman leads Montana House candidates in fundraising, attracting over $5.2 million for the cycle. He is expected to perform better in this year’s general election.

It is almost a certainty that retiring Rep. Matt Rosendale’s (R-Glendive) successor will be determined tonight in the Republican primary. Through a crowded field of nine candidates, the GOP winner will likely be State Auditor Troy Downing, former Congressman Denny Rehberg, or state Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen.

New Jersey

The Garden State is likely to produce the most interesting June 4 primary. Indicted US Sen. Bob Menendez (D) is not running in the Democratic primary but is submitting signatures at tomorrow’s deadline to qualify as an Independent. His candidacy is likely launched so he can tap the $3.6 million in campaign funds to pay for his legal fees.

The prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic nomination is US Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown). Once New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy (D) ended her campaign, the victory path cleared for Rep. Kim. Four Republicans are fighting for the GOP nomination, but tomorrow’s winner will have little chance against Kim in November.

The most vulnerable House member seeking renomination is freshman Rep. Rob Menendez (D-Jersey City), the senator’s son. Saddled with his father’s negative publicity surrounding his bribery trial, Rep. Menendez has drawn a strong opponent in the person of Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla. Bhalla has out-raised the incumbent, and earlier polls found Bhalla even taking the lead among sampled Democrats. This is the race to watch tonight, and it is possible we could see the first Democratic incumbent defeat of the 2024 election cycle.

Rep. Menendez has been campaigning hard and has both Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and Mrs. Murphy stumping for him. It remains to be seen if he has enough to withstand the family’s negative publicity and the strong challenge that Mayor Bhalla has afforded.

In Rep. Kim’s open 3rd District Democratic primary, state assemblyman and physician Herb Conaway (D-Delran) is favored to defeat Assemblywoman Carol Murphy (D-Mt. Laurel). Post-redistricting, NJ-3 became a safe Democratic seat. Therefore, today’s Democratic primary winner will claim the seat in November.

The death of Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-Newark) has caused the 10th District primary to be nominated in a party convention after the July 16 special election to fill the balance of the term. It is a foregone conclusion that the special election nominee will become the anointed regular general election standard bearer and we will cover this district prior to the special election primary.

In other races, Reps. Chris Smith (R-Manchester), Frank Palone (D-Long Branch), Tom Kean Jr. (R-Westfield, Bill Pascrell (R-Paterson), Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair), and Bonnie Watson-Coleman (D-Ewing Township) all face only minor opponents tomorrow night.

New Mexico

There are no challenged primaries in New Mexico major races. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D) and Nella Domenici (R) will advance into the general election in a race that promises to produce some competitive fireworks.

The major US House race comes in the form of a rematch in District 2 after then-Las Cruces City Councilman Gabe Vasquez (D-Las Cruces) unseated then-Rep. Yvette Herrell (R) in 2022 by less than a percentage point from a district that was reconfigured to elect a Democrat. The rematch will again yield a competitive contest in a place where the Republicans will heavily target.

South Dakota

Though the Mount Rushmore State has a primary scheduled, there is no Senate or governor’s race, and the at-large House candidates are unopposed.

Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-Mitchell) will face retired school employee Sheryl Johnson (D) in what will be another easy ride to re-election for the three-term congressional incumbent.

Running Against “No Name”;
Sen. Manchin Leaves Democrat Party; Masters Well Up in Arizona Poll; Boebert Re-Election Bid Struggling

By Jim Ellis — Monday, June 3, 2024

Senate

Nevada Sen. Jacky Rosen (D)

Generic Polls: Michigan and Nevada Incumbents vs. “No Name” — The Cook Political report released a series of US Senate surveys conducted by two Democratic polling firms, BSG and the Global Strategy Groups. Their Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, head-to-head results are consistent with other polling, i.e., the Democratic consensus candidate or incumbent has a significant lead, but the two where no Republican was named proved interesting.

In Michigan, the numbers testing consensus candidate Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) with an unnamed Republican, yield a 44-42 percent edge for the Democratic contender. This result is similar to data we have seen from other pollsters when a Republican candidate, usually former US Rep. Mike Rogers, is tested. Therefore, Republican chances here are legitimate.

In Nevada, however, the generic Republican does better than the identified Republican, usually Afghan War veteran Sam Brown. In the Cook Report’s survey, Sen. Jacky Rosen (D) leads a generic Republican 48-41 percent. This is a closer showing for the GOP than the most recent Rosen-Brown results.

The last two polls, from the Tyson Group (May 22-25; 601 likely Nevada voters; online) yields Sen. Rosen a 47-33 percent advantage. The Mainstreet Research study, for Florida Atlantic University (May 19-24; 494 likely Nevada voters; interactive voice response system & online), sees the senator recording a 48-37 percent split. Therefore, the fact that the generic Republican numbers are better than those for Brown indicates a greater need for increasing his familiarity among the voters.

West Virginia: Sen. Manchin Leaves Democrats — West Virginia no longer has a Democratic senator. Incumbent Joe Manchin, who is serving his final year in the Senate, announced he is leaving the Democratic Party to become an Independent. The senator says he can work better outside the political party structure to help bring the country closer together.

Though Sen. Manchin has already stated that he would not enter the governor’s race because of his support for the Democratic Party nominee, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, speculation that he will make a ballot appearance before the Aug. 1 Independent and minor party candidate filing deadline continues. It’s likely that we will also hear about a prospective Manchin political move either in the governor or Senate race as the Sept. 17 write-in deadline approaches.

At the end of the day, the chances of Sen. Manchin running for any office this year are slim. Additionally, attempting to get in at such a late date would likely leave him in an underdog position in a three-way governor’s race, or against Gov. Jim Justice (R) for the Senate.

In any event, Sen. Manchin leaving the Democratic Party will change the Senate party division to 47D-49R-4I, with Sens. Angus King (I-ME), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Manchin continuing to caucus with the Democrats. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) remains a true Independent but keeps her committee assignments through the Democratic Caucus.

House

AZ-8: Masters Well Up in New Poll — Fabrizio Lee & Associates (May 13-15; 400 likely AZ-8 Republican primary voters), polling for the Blake Masters campaign, finds their client leading attorney Abe Hamadeh and former US Rep. Trent Franks by a 28-16-14 percent margin in the Republican primary battle to succeed US Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria) who is running for Maricopa County Supervisor. The poll suggests that the latest Masters negative ad attacking Hamadeh as a son of illegal immigrants, a supporter of abortion, and one who claimed that Israel was behind the 9-11 attacks is having an effect. A late January poll found the two tied at 24 percent support.

Masters, the 2022 US Senate nominee who lost 51-47 percent to Sen. Mark Kelly (D), has improved his favorability image according to the Fabrizio Lee response data. They show a 56:24 percent positive to negative Masters ratio. In 2022, Hamadeh ran a close race for attorney general, losing by a razor-thin 280 votes in the statewide contest. The July 30 Republican primary winner will easily take the 8th District seat in November.

CO-4: Rep. Boebert Not Home Free in General — A new Gravis Marketing poll released of Colorado’s 4th District (May 22-24; 423 likely CO-4 general election voters; online & text) finds retired Marine Corps officer Ike McCorkle (D) leading Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt), 41-27 percent, in a hypothetical general election poll. This result is surprising in an eastern Colorado 4th District that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+26, which is the safest Republican seat in the Centennial State.

While Rep. Boebert’s move to the 4th District from the Western Slope 3rd CD that she currently represents appears to be working, since she won the party convention and has a huge resource lead on all of her GOP opponents, it appears she will have more work to do to convince a majority of the new district voters to support her in November. Of course, McCorkle, who has twice run for the seat, is no lock in the Democratic primary. He faces his own field of three other Democratic candidates.

The Colorado primary is June 25. A special election will also occur that day to fill the balance of Rep. Ken Buck’s (R) final term. The Republican special election nominee is former local mayor Greg Lopez who is not running for the regular term. The Democratic nominee, speechwriter Trish Calvarese, is a candidate in both the special and regular elections.

Listen in to Our Wide-Ranging Discussion on the Podcast,
“Light Beer, Dark Money”

Please click on the above image to go to the podcast, or click here: Light Beer, Dark Money

By Jim Ellis — Saturday, June 1, 2024

I joined Chris Clements and Sean Noble again, hosts of the podcast “Light Beer, Dark Money,” to talk about the recently agreed to debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, currently set for June 27. We discuss the internal thinking the Biden and Trump camps, and what we might expect from the debate, and what might happen as a result. I also give insights on the recent Maryland U.S. Senate Democratic primary and how that impacts former Gov. Larry Hogan’s chances in the general. We then walks through the remaining Senate races to watch in 2024.

Listen in. As a follower of EllisInsight.com, I think you’ll enjoy the discussion.

June Incumbent Challenges – Part II

By Jim Ellis — Friday, May 31, 2024

Primaries

Today, we look at the latter June primaries in our second and final installment examining the House incumbent primary challenges.

Voters in Virginia will cast their nomination votes on June 18. Voters in Colorado, New York, and Utah will cast their nomination votes on June 25; in each of these three states, we see serious incumbent challenges.

Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) / Photo by Gage Skidmore

Colorado — Turning first to Colorado, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) decided to leave the 3rd District where she was twice elected to seek another term in the open 4th District, the safest Republican seat in the Centennial State. The move may well pay off as was evidenced in her nominating convention victory, which provides her top primary ballot placement.

The congresswoman faces a crowded field of candidates, which also helps her since she has the highest name identification and a solid conservative base. Rep. Boebert also has a major resource advantage (10:1 favorable receipt ratio compared to her closest opponent on the March 31 disclosure report). The representative’s campaign apparatus is stronger than expected, and she is in position to score a significant victory on June 25.

New York — The same may not be said for two-term Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-Yonkers). His Democratic opponent is Westchester County Executive George Latimer, a former state senator and assemblyman. Latimer currently represents 91 percent of the 16th District and had out-raised the incumbent, $3.6 million to $2.7 million according to the March 31 campaign finance disclosure report. Bowman came to office when defeating veteran Rep. Eliot Engel in the 2020 Democratic primary, but he may well see the tables turn in this election.

Utah — The final June incumbent challenge comes in the state of Utah, where freshman Rep. Celeste Maloy (R-Cedar City), who won a special election in late 2023, seeks a regular term nomination for the first time. A candidate who Sen. Mike Lee (R) heavily backs, technology executive and Army Reserve Colonel Colby Jenkins (R), topped Rep. Maloy at the party nominating convention.

The congresswoman, who did not circulate nominating petitions and therefore could have been eliminated at the convention, received 43 percent of the delegate vote, or just three percent more than the minimum needed to earn a ballot position for the June 25 primary election. Therefore, this is another situation that must be rated as a serious threat to the sitting incumbent.

Virginia — On June 18, Virginia will host another major primary where two-term Rep. Bob Good (R-Lynchburg) is in danger of losing his renomination bid. This is the first time Rep. Good has also faced a primary electorate. Previously, he was nominated by convention.

Rep. Good’s opponent is state Sen. John McGuire (R-Manakin-Sabot), who enjoys strong outside support including a recent endorsement from former President Donald Trump who says that “Bob Good is Bad for Virginia, and Bad for the USA.” Rep. Good endorsed Gov. Ron DeSantis in the presidential election.

Good was also one of the key leaders in the movement to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and the former House leader is clearly involved with bringing in outside money to defeat the congressman. This will be a multi-million dollar campaign, with most of the money being spent through outside organizations. This is a contest where the incumbent is in danger of losing.

• • •

Throughout the election cycle, 24 significant incumbent challenges have been launched against sitting House members, 15 against Republicans and nine versus a Democratic member. Seven have already been decided, and we will see another seven results by the time June draws to a close.

Only one incumbent has been defeated, and such an outcome was inevitable. Alabama Reps. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) and Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) were paired in one district because of a court-ordered redistricting plan, which led to the latter man’s defeat.

The most serious challenges appear levied against Reps. Rob Menendez (D-NJ), Bowman, and Good in June and against Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Cori Bush (D-MO) in August.

June Incumbent Challenges — Part I

by Jim Ellis — Thursday, May 30, 2024

Primaries

Now that we are through the Texas runoffs, it’s time to look at a very active primary schedule for the month of June with voters in 14 states choosing their nominees for the general election.

We begin Part I of our two-part series with the June 4 primaries that feature New Jersey, Iowa, Montana, New Mexico, and South Dakota. Only in New Jersey, however, do we see a competitive primary challenge to an incumbent House member.

New Jersey freshman Rep. Rob Menendez (D-Jersey City)

New Jersey — Rep. Rob Menendez is fighting for renomination burdened with political baggage from his father’s legal woes. Sen. Bob Menendez (D) is currently on trial for bribery charges and could possibly see a verdict before the June 4 primary. Rep. Menendez has been heavily advertising recently, attempting to defend himself against a difficult Democratic primary challenge from Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla.

Through the May 15 pre-primary candidate financial disclosure filing, Mayor Bhalla actually out-raised Rep. Menendez, $2.02 million to $1.64 million. Menendez has the key endorsements and organizational backing, but the latest released poll, from the Global Strategy Group in early April, found the mayor leading Rep. Menendez by a 33-28 percent margin. This will be the challenge race to watch on June 4.

South Carolina — We have primary voting in South Carolina, Maine, Nevada, and North Dakota on June 11. The incumbent challenges to follow on this day are in South Carolina’s 1st and 4th Districts. Here, Reps. Nancy Mace (R-Charleston) and William Timmons (R-Greenville) are defending themselves against former Haley Administration official and ex-gubernatorial candidate Catherine Templeton and state Rep. Adam Morgan (R-Greenville), respectively.

Rep. Mace has an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, but as one of the members who voted to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, she is under attack from outside organizations.

The campaign’s latest published poll comes from Emerson College (May 19-21; 400 likely SC-1 Republican primary voters; multiple sampling techniques) and projects Rep. Mace to be holding a 47-22 percent lead over Ms. Templeton. The danger Mace faces, however, is failing to hit the 50 percent mark. If so, the race advances into a two-week runoff period where the top two finishers will square off in a June 25 secondary election.

Across the state in the Greenville-Spartanburg anchored 4th District, Rep. Timmons again faces a serious primary challenge. In 2022, in a field of three opponents, Rep. Timmons, then a freshman congressman, received only 52.7 percent of the Republican primary vote. With the Democrats not even fielding a candidate in the 4th District, Rep. Timmons was home free once he won the primary election.

Reports of an extra-marital affair dragged Timmons’ image down and he managed to win only a relatively tight Republican primary contest that saved him from having a very short congressional career.

This time the anti-Timmons vote is centered around just one candidate, state Rep. Adam Morgan (R-Greenville). Though former President Trump has endorsed Rep. Timmons, much of the conservative base is gravitating toward Morgan. The congressman is regarded as at least a slight favorite, but an upset here remains a possibility.

Oklahoma — Turning to June 18, the state of Oklahoma hosts one major incumbent primary. Just north of the Red River, which separates the Sooner State and Texas, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Moore/Norman) defends himself in what is turning into an expensive primary.

The congressman’s opponent is insurance executive Paul Bondar who plans to drop at least $2 million of his own money into the race and is already advertising extensively on electronic media. The message attacks Cole as an insider who has lost touch with his constituency and refers to him as a resident of the “Washington Swamp.”

Rep. Cole is also spending heavily and going on offense, bringing to the forefront that Bondar has only recently moved to Oklahoma to the point where he even voted in Texas earlier this year. He also illustrates that Bondar’s real community ties are still in Texas.

Rep. Cole is responding aggressively in this primary race, but the closing days of this campaign will be interesting. The congressman is favored to win, but how the race concludes is well worth watching.