The only race of interest on the Nutmeg State board today is the Republican gubernatorial primary. With Gov. Dan Malloy (D) registering poor job approval numbers and even trailing in some polls, the Republican nomination may be worth having even in this Democratic state. In 2010, former US Ambassador Tom Foley (R) came within 6,404 votes of defeating Malloy in the closest gubernatorial contest of the 2010 election cycle.
Amb. Foley returns for a re-match and is favored over state Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R), the son of the late former Rep. Stewart McKinney (R-CT-4). McKinney is running a spirited campaign but will likely fall short. Should Foley win the nomination, the general election will be competitive.
All five incumbent House members are seeking re-election, and all are favorites to win re-election. The only moderately competitive race features a 2010 re-match of a 53-47 percent contest between Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT-4) and former state legislator Dan Debicella (R).
Sen. Al Franken’s (D) numbers have been relatively good as he works toward his first re-election. It has long been anticipated that his general election opponent will be wealthy investor Mike McFadden (R), who should officially wrap up the nomination this evening. At this point, the Minnesota Senate race sits on the edge of the competitive realm.
The Minneapolis suburban 6th District is an open seat contest, with four-term representative and former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (R) retiring. The clear Republican leader, and officially party endorsed candidate, is former gubernatorial nominee Tom Emmer, an ex-state legislator. Emmer came within an eyelash of defeating Mark Dayton for the governor’s office back in 2010. He returns to the political arena after a four-year hiatus and should win both the Republican nomination tonight and the seat in November. He faces Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah in the GOP primary, and Sartell Mayor Joe Perske (D) in the general election. The latter is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
The remaining seven Minnesota congressional seats, all featuring incumbents seeking re-election, are mostly set. Two races in the northern part of the state appear noteworthy. Blind state Sen. Torrey Westrom (R) is challenging veteran Rep. Collin Peterson (D) in the northwest 7th District, while wealthy businessman Stewart Mills (R) is attempting to deny Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN-8) another term in the adjoining northeast CD. Nolan was first elected in 1974 but did not seek re-election in 1980. He made his political comeback in 2012.
With no Senate race on the Badger State ballot this year, and Gov. Scott Walker (R) and businesswoman Mary Burke (D) virtually assured of their respective statewide nominations, the only primary race of note comes in the central part of the state.
Veteran Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI-6), first elected in a 1979 special election and ranks ninth in overall House seniority with 35 years of service, is retiring this year, thus opening his congressional seat for the first time in more than a generation.
Four Republicans are lining up for the right to succeed Petri, three of whom are serious candidates. State senators Joe Leibham, Glenn Grothman, and Assemblyman Duey Stroebel are vying for the nomination. The winner of tonight’s GOP primary will be considered the favorite against Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris, who is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
The 6th District, which contains the cities of Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, and Sheboygan, is reliably Republican. Though President Obama carried Wisconsin in both 2008 and 2012, he lost this seat two years ago (53-46 percent) and virtually broke even in his initial national race.