August’s busy primary season continues today with elections in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin. Yesterday my colleague Nathaniel Rakich looked at notable Republican primaries, so now we’ll look at four notable primaries on the Democratic side. Three of those races involve progressive Democrats who are on track to defeat their opponents — two in heavily Democratic congressional districts in Vermont and Minnesota and one in the highly competitive Wisconsin Senate race. (The other Democratic primary involves a red-leaning House seat in Wisconsin that Democrats will struggle to defend in November.)
So without further ado, here are these contests in order of the closing time of the ballot.
Race to follow: At-Large Congress District
Closing of surveys: 7 p.m. Eastern Time
It’s been 16 years since Vermont held a race for Congress, but a series of falling dominoes precipitated a high-profile Democratic primary in the state. Headquarter. Longtime Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy announced his retirement in November, prompting Democratic Rep. Peter Welch to run for his seat, leaving Vermont’s one-house district open.
Two leading Democratic candidates have emerged in this race: Senate Pro Tempore Speaker Becca Balint and Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray. And thanks to the state’s solid blue skinny, the primary winner will almost certainly win in November, so Vermont looks set to send its first woman to Congress, making it the 50th and final state to do so.
The race between Balint and Gray is no longer as close as it once was, however, as the more progressive Balint has held sizable leads in the race’s two most recent surveys. In late July, liberal pollster Data for Progress found Balint leading from 59% to 27%, and around the same time, a University of New Hampshire/WCAX survey found Balint up 63% to 21%. %. (Both polls were likely of Democratic primary voters.) Moreover, while both candidates were equally well known in the UNH poll, Balint was much more popular: 73% had a favorable opinion of Balint, compared to just 42. %. % for Gray.
Balint campaigned on his accomplishments in the state legislature and also racked up financial support and endorsements. She highlighted her status as the first woman to lead the state Senate and her efforts to enact gun violence prevention measures. Balint also emphasized the importance of fighting efforts to curtail voting rights, reproductive rights and same-sex marriage, and noted the effect this would have on her life, as she is a lesbian. married and mother of two children. Financially, Balint had raised $1.1 million as of July 20, and she also had $1.3 million in outside support, primarily from the LGBTQ Victory Fund. Endorsements from progressive leaders, including Vermont’s own senator Bernie Sanders, have also strengthened his standing in the race.
Unlike Balint, Gray has a statewide victory on his resume, winning the 2020 election for lieutenant governor after upsetting a more seasoned state legislator in the Democratic primary. But although she easily matched Balint in fundraising, raising just over $1 million, it wasn’t enough to keep the race close. Gray has tried to take advantage of Balint’s outside support, criticizing the “dark money” in the race, but it appears Balint’s long track record and progressive record has put her in pole position over Gray.
Race to follow: 5th congressional district
Closing of surveys: 9 p.m. Eastern Time
Minnesota’s only notable Democratic primary takes a deep blue, Minneapolis-based seat 5th District, where progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar faces a challenge from her right by former Minneapolis City Councilman Don Samuels. Omar, who is part of “The Squad,” a group of progressive members of Congress who are mostly women of color, has drawn criticism within the party for her past statements about Israel, and she has also joined a handful other progressives to break with his party to oppose the bipartisan infrastructure package passed in 2021.
Samuels tried to capitalize on these clashes by sending the message that “any politician can make a point” but will “make a difference”. He also made the police an important part of his campaign, as he was a prominent opponent of Question 2, a 2021 municipal ballot initiative that would have replaced the Minneapolis Police Department with a Public Safety Department. . On the other hand, Omar supported the measure, which failed at the polls, 44% against 56%. Samuels raised a solid amount for a primary challenger — nearly $1.1 million — and won the endorsement of major Minneapolis newspaper, the Star Tribune.
But Omar has proven that she can withstand a well-funded challenger. In 2020, she beat fellow Democrat Antone Melton-Meaux, 58% to 39%, although Melton-Meaux also ran to her right and edged her in the primary. This time around, however, Omar has outdone her challenger, having brought in $2.4 million, and she’s already spent $2.1 million on the campaign, proof that she’s not taking any risks against Samuels. We don’t have an independent poll, but Omar released a survey in June from Change Research that showed her ahead of Samuels, 60% to 21%. Given his electoral record, tenure and financial advantage, Omar remains a clear favorite.
Races to follow: U.S. Senate, 3rd Congressional District
Closing of surveys: 9 p.m. Eastern Time
A few weeks ago, the Democratic primary of Senate in Wisconsin was to be one of the biggest races on the ballot today. But instead, progressive Democratic Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes is his party’s presumptive nominee after his three main opponents pulled out and endorsed him. Barnes’ near-certain victory puts him on a collision course with Republican Senator Ron Johnson, who held the seat for two terms but has sparked controversy with his claims and actions regarding the 2020 presidential election, including reports that he tried to push a fake Wisconsin voters list in an effort to prevent certification of President Biden’s election.
Looking ahead to November, Barnes has put some distance between himself and some of his past actions, such as holding up a shirt that read “Abolish ICE,” likely in anticipation that Republicans will cast him as too left-wing for Wisconsin. Still, Johnson is arguably more vulnerable than he should be as an incumbent in a state that leans slightly to his party and midterm where the opposition party is in the White House – the election predictions of FiveThirtyEight’s midterms in 2022 currently only give him a 2 of 3 shot of beating Barnes. Early polls have been sparse, but a Marquette University Law School poll found the two candidates neck and neck in a hypothetical matchup in June.
With the disappointing Senate race, the 3rd District in western Wisconsin is now the Democrats’ most interesting congressional primary in Badger State. Democratic Representative Ron Kind is retiring after 13 terms in the House. His departure and the region’s rightward drift have jeopardized the Democrats’ chances of taking the seat, which is 9 points more Republican than the country as a whole, according to the partisan leaning of FiveThirtyEight. Despite these challenges, three notable Democrats are vying to be their party’s pick to defend the seat this fall: State Senator Brad Pfaff, former CIA officer Deb McGrath and businesswoman Rebecca Cooke.
Although we don’t have a poll to go on, Pfaff may be the favorite for the primary. After all, he was able to showcase his endorsement of Kind (Pfaff was previously Kind’s chief of staff). He also has a proven campaign record as a state legislator and he has raised $722,000. But his two opponents cannot be written off, as McGrath raised $639,000 and Cooke raised $432,000. McGrath also grabbed attention with an ad in which she skydives, highlighting her past as a former Army paratrooper while saying “sometimes it takes a mother to get things done.” Cooke, meanwhile, highlighted her background growing up on a farm while touting her support of organized labor groups, including the Service Employees International Union Wisconsin State Council.
However, the eventual Democratic nominee will face a tough fight, given the district’s partisan leanings. Republicans have coalesced around retired Navy SEAL Derrick Van Orden, who lost to Kind by less than 3 points in 2020. Van Orden has already raised $4.5 million, giving him a huge resource advantage before the November elections.
As we watch how these races go tonight, you should come join us! Our live results blog will begin at 7 p.m. EST, so come see us as we process all the results and more.