In addition to a high-profile US Senate race in Wisconsin and gubernatorial contests in all four states, there are a number of US House primaries to watch as Democrats fight to defend their four-seat majority and Republicans look to expand the playing field with the majority in their sights.
Tuesday’s elections – minus a special general election in Minnesota’s 1st District – are being held under new congressional lines introduced following redistricting after the 2020 census. None of the four states voting Tuesday saw any changes to their House seat counts.
Here’s a look at the key House primaries we’re watching Tuesday:
Despite Wisconsin’s swing-state status, the partisan makeup of the state’s US House delegation has remained inelastic over the past decade, at five Republicans and three Democrats. But longtime Democratic Rep. Ron Kind’s retirement from the 3rd District has raised GOP hopes of flipping a seat.
Four Democrats are running to succeed Kind in the largely rural district covering parts of western and central Wisconsin: state Sen. Brad Pfaff, retired CIA officer and Army veteran Deb McGrath, small business owner Rebecca Cooke and La Crosse City Council Member Mark Neumann. Retired Navy SEAL Derrick Van Orden, who narrowly lost to Kind in 2020, is unopposed in the GOP primary for a seat former President Donald Trump would have carried by 5 points in 2020.
A Daily Beast report from last year said Van Orden was inside the restricted area at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021; the candidate has denied the accusation, saying on Facebook last year that he “did not step foot on the Capitol grounds let alone into the Capitol building because, I don’t break the law.”
Van Orden, who is in the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Young Guns program for promising recruits, has dominated his Democratic opponents in fundraising. As Democrats lose ground in rural America, political analysts rate the 3rd District among the seats likely to flip this year, especially without a tested incumbent like Kind on the ballot.
Minnesota’s 1st District is hosting a special general election for the remaining term of former GOP Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who died in February. Republican nominee Brad Finstad, a former US Agriculture Department official in the Trump administration, is the favorite against Democrat Jeff Ettinger, the former CEO of Hormel Foods, in a seat Trump carried by 10 points in 2020.
Both Finstad and Ettinger are also competing Tuesday in the regular primary election for the full two-year term for the southern Minnesota seat. Finstad faces GOP state Rep. Jeremy Munson, whom he narrowly defeated in the special election primary in May. Munson had previously stopped campaigning for the regular election but has resumed activity in recent weeks.
The special election is taking place under the existing district lines, while the regular primary is being held under the new boundaries. The redrawn district remains Republican-leaning – Trump would have carried it by about 9 points.
Two Democratic congresswomen in deep-blue Twin Cities seats are facing primary challenges. In the Minneapolis-anchored 5th District, Rep. Ilhan Omar, a member of the “squad” of House progressives, is being challenged by former Minneapolis City Councilman Don Samuels, among others. In the 4th District, which includes St. Paul, 11-term Rep. Betty McCollum’s top opponent is community organizer Amane Badhasso, a refugee from Ethiopia who has called for generational change.
Republicans are targeting the 2nd and 3rd Districts – both suburban Twin Cities-area seats that Democrats flipped during the Trump era. The major-party candidates are running unopposed in the primaries in both districts. In November, Democratic Rep. Angie Craig faces a rematch with retired Marine Tyler Kistner in the redrawn 2nd District, which President Joe Biden would have carried by 7 points. Kistner is in the NRCC’s Young Guns program, while Craig is in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Frontline program for vulnerable incumbents. Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips appears safer in the 3rd District, where he faces Navy veteran Tom Weiler in a seat Biden would have won by 21 points.
Vermont is poised to make history this November by sending a woman to Congress for the first time – it’s currently the only state not to have already done so.
With Rep. Peter Welch running to succeed retiring Sen. Patrick Leahy, a fellow Democrat, the state’s at-large House seat is up for grabs. The leading contenders for the Democratic nomination are state Sen. Becca Balint and Lt. Gov. Molly Gray. Balint has the endorsement of prominent progressives, including the state’s junior senator, independent Bernie Sanders, and Massachusetts Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey. Gray has Leahy’s backing in the race. The winner would be heavily favored in November, given that Biden carried the state by 35 points in 2020.
While the Nutmeg State has not elected a Republican to Congress since 2006, the GOP is targeting two US House seats this fall – the 2nd District in eastern Connecticut and the 5th District in the western part of the state.
The general election matchups are set – in the 2nd District, Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney will face GOP state Rep. Mike France, a Navy veteran. In the 5th, Democratic Rep. Jahana Hayes will meet former Republican state Sen. George Logan. Courtney and Hayes are in the DCCC’s Frontline program for vulnerable incumbents. Biden would have carried both the 2nd and 5th Districts by about 11 points.
CNN’s Renée Rigdon contributed to this report.