Not Just the Presidency. Congressional Primaries 2020


Updated: May 20, 2020 - Oregon

by Mike Cowburn, John F. Kennedy-Institute, Freie Universität Berlin

Whilst news coverage of Tuesday’s nomination contests will be dominated by the Democratic presidential contests, Super Tuesday also marked the start of the congressional nomination process. Alabama, Arkansas, California, North Carolina and Texas all had the chance to have primaries to select candidates for House of Representatives and Senate elections in November. These elections have important consequences, frequently these are the only challenges elected officials face. They also give observers important insight into divisions and factional groupings in both of the parties. In this election cycle these divisions in the Democratic Party are primarily ideological, between moderate or establishment and progressive wings. In the Republican Party these divisions are framed around closeness to President Trump with candidates choosing either to abstain from mentioning him in their primary campaigns or wholeheartedly embracing his rhetoric and policy positions. This blog provides an overview of every district in these states and all states to come.

For each district, the district number in the U.S. House of Representatives is provide in bold, SEN refers to US Senate. After each district I’ve provided the Cook PVI score of the district. This is a measure provided by the Cook Political Report which shows how much the district leans Democratic or Republican. This measure is important in understanding the dynamic of a primary contest as it shows the value of becoming each party’s nominee, this dictates both the quality and number of candidates who enter the race. For each state I’ve mentioned any relevant rules which vary between states. (R) denotes a Republican candidate, (D) denotes a Democrat.

Super Tuesday

Across both parties there were few notable shocks or surprises on the night. This a continuation of a pattern of primary challenges to incumbents being unsuccessful. While the number of challenges and competitive primary competitions has risen in the past decade, the rate of challenger success has shown no sign of increasing. At the presidential level, Super Tuesday was a good night for the moderate or establishment part of the Democratic Party, the same was true at the congressional level where several notable races between establishment and progressive-endorsed candidates went the way of the moderates. In the Texas Senate, progressive-endorsed Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez failed to finish in the top-two required to make the run-off, while establishment-backed M.J. Hegar came a clear first. A similar pattern continued in challenges to incumbents, such as in TX-28 where progressive Jessica Cisneros failed to unseat moderate incumbent Henry Cuellar. For Republicans loyalty to President Trump continues to be a winning strategy in safe Republican districts, such as in the open contest in TX-11, where Trump’s endorsement of August Pfluger helped him emerge with 52% in a crowded field. In less Republican districts, candidates continue to avoid mention of the President. Very few Republican candidates openly criticized President Trump in a continuation of a pattern from in 2018. These trends will be interesting to watch in the remaining contests between now and September.

Congressional Primaries

List of U.S. states

Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming

Alabama (March 3, 2020)

Rules: In Alabama if a candidate does not win a majority of votes, they advance to a run-off with the second placed finisher. The winner of this run-off then advances to the November general election.

In the Republican race to run for Democratic Senator Doug Jones’ AL-SEN (R+14) seat, former Aubern football coach Tommy Tuberville defeated former Senator and attorney general Jeff Sessions. Both advance to the run-off. Representative Bradley Byrne, who gave up a House seat to run in this race finished 3rd, disgraced former candidate Roy Moore came a distant fourth after the Alabama Republican Party took an ‘anyone-but-Roy Moore’ endorsement stance. Jones faced no opposition within his own party and will do well to hold his seat in a state that Trump won by 27 points in 2016.

AL-01 (R+15) was an open seat with Representative Byrne vacating his office to run for the Senate. The result is a run-off for both parties. For the Democrats, community college professor Kiani Gardner won a narrowly over former marine James Averhart, both will advance to the run-off. For the Republicans county commission Jerry Carl beat state senator Bill Hightower after spending nearly $500k on his primary campaign, both will advance to the run-off.

AL-02 (R+16) was another open seat. For the Democrats a straight shoot-out between Nathan Mathis and Phylliss Harvey-Hall went Harvey-Hall's way, with nearly 60% of the votes. Who she'll face in November remains uncertain with Jeff Coleman winning the Republican primary from Barry Moore. These two candidates will enter a run-off due to the size of the field making it difficult to get 50%, Jessica Taylor finished 700 votes behind Moore in third. Harvey-Hall will have her work cut out in November as this district is safely Republican. There were no primaries in AL-03 (R+16) or AL-04 (R+30) where Republican incumbents Mike Rogers and Robert Aderholt will face Democrats Adia Winfrey and Rick Neighbors respectively.

In AL-05 (R+18) incumbent Representative Mo Brooks was challenged by retired Navy Commander Chris Lewis. Lewis had gained the support of the Alabama Farmers Federation and this looked set to be competitive. However, Brooks won comfortably gaining 75% of the vote. Democrats did not field a candidate in this district or in AL-06(R+26) meaning both Brooks and Gary Palmer (R) will be re-elected in November. Conversely Republicans did not field a candidate in AL-07 (D+20) handing another two years to incumbent Terri Sewell (D) who was also unopposed in her party.

Arkansas (March 3, 2020)

Recapping Arkansas' congressional primaries is very easy...there weren't any. This means that in AR-01 (R+17) incumbent Rick Crawford (R) will be re-elected in November with no Democrat standing. In AR-02 (R+7) French Hill (R) will be favorite against Joyce Elliot (D). Incumbents Bruce Westerman and Doug LaMalfa in AR-03 (R+19) and AR-04 (R+17) likewise have little cause for concern in November against Democrats Celeste Williams and William Hanson respectively.

California (March 3, 2020)

Rules: California and Washington use a primary system called a top-two primary. This is where all candidates, regardless of party, compete in a single contest and the top-two candidates advance to the general. One result of this is that it means general elections between two candidates from the same party are possible. Because of the state’s Democratic leaning, this is not uncommon. This also means there is only a single primary contest per district.

In CA-01 (R+11) incumbent Republican Doug LaMalfa easily advanced to the general with almost 60% of the vote. He'll face Democrat Audrey Denney who finished second, with the other three candidates receiving less than 6% of the vote between them. In CA-02 (D+22) incumbent Jared Huffman (D) will again face Dale Mensing (R) in November. Huffman beat Mensing comfortably in 2014, 2016 and 2018. Other candidates received 12% of the vote. In CA-03(D+5) Incumbent Democrat John Garamendi will face Republican Tamika Hamilton in November. This race mainly focused on agricultural needs in the district.

Republican incumbent Tom McClintock will face Democrat Brynne Kennedy in CA-04 (R+10) in November. Kennedy campaigned on her experience as a businesswoman and claimed she wants to put partisanship aside, the word Democrat didn't feature on her website. In CA-05 (D+21) incumbent Democrat Mike Thompson will face Republican Scott Giblin. Giblin's primary campaign focused on his ability to represent the people and get citizens more involved. Incumbent Doris Matsui easily won her CA-06 (D+21) primary contest and will face Republican Chris Bish in November. Bish has campaigned saying her competence in business will make her a good Representative in Congress. In CA-07 (D+3) Incumbent Democrat Ami Bera will face Republican Buzz Patterson in November in this Republican target. Patterson is a former Air Force pilot and is a best-selling author, in the Clinton administration he was responsible for carrying the nuclear football.

The open seat in CA-08 (R+9) will likely see Republican Jay Obernolte face Democrat Christine Bubser, with some precincts still left to report. Republicans will be strong favorites here. Republican Tim Donnelly is in 3rd. Over in CA-09(D+8) incumbent Democrat Jerry McNerney will face Republican challenger Tony Amador. Republican Will Martinek was the only other candidate in the race. CA-10 (EVEN) Incumbent Josh Harder finished only narrowly ahead of Republican challenger Ted Howze in this Republican target. These two will contest what will be a close general in November, the total Republican votes here on Tuesday exceeded the total Democratic votes. Howze also contested the 2018 primary, failing to advance to the general in this district when it was held by Republican Jeff Dunham. This will be a race to watch in November.

There were no surprised in CA-11 (D+21) as incumbent Democrat Mark DeSaulnier and Republican Nisha Sharma advanced past Green Michael Kerr. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D) will face fellow Democrat Shahid Butttar in November's general election for CA-12 (D+37) after Republican John Dennis finished 3rd. CA-13 (D+40) saw no contest, meaning its straight to the general for Democratic incumbent Barbara Lee and Republican challenger Nikka Piterman. Incumbent Democrat Jackie Speier will face Republican Ran Patel in November in CA-14 (D+27) where other candidates got less than 7% combined. In CA-15 (D+20) incumbent Democrat and former presidential candidate Eric Swalwell will face Republican Alison Hayden in the general election.

In CA-16 (D+9) Republican challenger Kevin Cookingham narrowly defeated Democratic incumbent Jim Costa and a field of Democrats. These two will be the candidates in the November general, and Costa should be safe as the total number of Democratic votes here on Tuesday was significantly more than Cookingham’s total. Democrat Ro Khanna will have a Republican rather than Democratic general election as Republican Ritesh Tandon beat Democrat Stephen Forbes into 2nd place in CA-17 (D+25). Khanna originally won this seat in 2014 by coming second in the primary to incumbent Democrat Mike Honda then defeating him in the general election. In 2016 he again competed against a Democrat in the general. In 2018 he defeated a Republican to hold the seat and he should have no problem doing the same again this cycle, in 2018 he won over 75% against Republican opposition.

There was a close race to face incumbent Democrat Anna Eshoo in November in CA-18 (D+23). Democrat Rishi Kumar was leading Republican Richard Fox by less than 1% with 265 of 337 precincts reporting. Eshoo is unlikely to be troubled regardless of the opponent in November. CA-19 (D+24) saw a close race between Republicans Justin Aguilera and Ignacio Cruz for the right to challenge incumbent Democrat Zoe Lofgren in November. Aguilera won out by less than 600 votes and advances to the general. In CA-20 (D+23) Democrat incumbent Jimmy Panetta will have a Republican opponent in Jeff Gorman in November. Gorman focused his campaign on the benefits of private healthcare and the threat of America becoming a communist nation.

Moderate Republican former Representative David Valadao is trying to win his seat back in CA-21 (D+5). He leads Democratic incumbent TJ Cox; both will advance to the general election. Father and son Rocky & Ricardo De La Fuente (more on this family later), one competing for each party, were eliminated. In CA-22 (R+8) Incumbent Republican Devin Nunes will face Democrat Phil Arballo in November. Arballo calls himself a "practical progressive", this was a bit of an upset for the California Democratic Party who had supported Bobby Bliatout and came third. There was no primary in CA-23 (R+14) No primaries here, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy and challenger Kim Mangone advance straight to the general. In CA-24 (D+7) incumbent Democrat Salud Carbajal and Republican Andy Caldwell had no trouble advancing past independent Kenneth Young.

CA-25 (EVEN) also had a special election to replace Katie Hill (D). As with that election Christy Smith (D) and Mike Garcia (R) will advance to the ballot in November by which time one of them will be the incumbent. They will next face each other in May in a general election run-off to fill the vacant seat until January. I expect whoever wins in May to be the favorite in November, but this will be close and is worth watching. In CA-26 (D+7) Incumbent Julia Brownley (D) and challenger Ronda Baldwin-Kennedy (R) advanced past two other Democrats. Baldwin-Kennedy focused her primary campaign on closeness with President Trump & the opioid crisis.

CA-27 (D+16) Incumbent Judy Chu (D) will be on the ballot along with either perennial challenger Johnny Nalbandian (R) or Beatrice Cardenas (R). Nalbandian lost in CA-28 in 2018. Only 85 of 252 precincts have currently reported, Nalbandian is around 2,000 votes ahead of Cardenas. In CA-28 (D+23) incumbent Adam Schiff (D) leads Eric Early (R) in a field with multiple Republican and Democratic candidates. Only 66 of 248 precincts have reported. Early's primary campaign was focused on attacks on Schiff, G. Pudlo (D) is less than 2,000 votes behind Early in third.

With 154 of 205 precincts reporting it looks like CA-29 (D+29) will be an all Democratic general election. Incumbent Tony Cardenas (D) will be on the ballot and it looks like Angelica Duenas (D) has beaten Brian Perras (R) to join him. Duenas leads Duncan by nearly 2,000 votes. In CA-30 (D+18) incumbent Brad Sherman (D) will yet again face Mark Reed (R). Reed has lost four general elections for this seat (2010, 2012, 2016, 2018) which doesn’t seem to have put him off trying again. There was no contest in CA-31 (D+8) meaning incumbent Pete Aguilar (D) will face Agnes Gibboney (R) in November. In CA-32 (D+17) incumbent Grace Napolitano (D) will have a Republican challenger as Joshua Scott finished ahead of two other Democrats. This is a repeat of the 2018 match up which Napolitano won handily (68.8%).

CA-33 (D+16) incumbent Ted Lieu (D) will face James Bradley (R) in November, where no other candidate received 10% of the vote. Bradley previously ran for US Senate in 2018, finishing as the highest placing Republican but not advancing to the general. No contest in CA-34 (D+35) as Mike Cargile (R) will take on incumbent Norma Torres (D) in November. In CA-36 (D+2) incumbent Raul Ruiz (D) will be joined on the November ballot by Erin Cruz (R). Cruz previously ran for US Senate in 2018, receiving 4% of the vote in the primary. There were no surprises in CA-37(D+37) as incumbent Karen Bass (D) and challenger Errol Webber (R) moved past independent Larry Thompson.

CA-38 (D+17) was a great example of the oddities of California electoral law. Only two candidates stood, incumbent Linda Sanchez & Michael Tolar. They are both Democrats, and due to no Republican entering the race they both progress to the November general. California State Assembly Member Young Kim (R) and incumbent Gil Cisneros (D) will have a rematch of their 2018 race in CA-39 (EVEN). Last time Cisneros narrowly won; this will be a top Republican target in November. Young Kim would be the first Korean-American woman in Congress.

It remains unclear whether incumbent Lucile Roybal-Allard (D) will have a Republican or Democratic challenge in CA-40 (D+33). David Sanchez (D) and C Antonio Delgado (R) are split by just 16 votes for second with 135 of 180 precincts reporting. In CA-41 (D+12) incumbent Mark Takano will have Republican opposition in the form of Aja Smith in November in a repeat of the 2018 contest which Takano won comfortably (65.1%). The right to take on incumbent Ken Calvert (R) in CA-42 (R+9) was narrowly won by William O'Mara (D) over Regina Marston (D). 

It’s still too early to say if incumbent Nanette Barragan (D) will face Democrat Analilia Joya, or Republican Billy Early in CA-44 (D+35). Joya leads Earley by less than 300 votes with 176 of 235 precincts reporting. Greg Raths (R) has won the race to challenge incumbent Katie Porter (D) in CA-45 (R+3). This will be a priority seat for Republicans in the general. Raths is Mission Viego Mayor. In CA-46 (D+15) incumbent Lou Correa (D) and challenger James Waters (R) advanced past a field of Democrats and independents to contest the general. Waters is a former Marine who campaigned as a strong supporter of Trump.

Incumbent Alan Lowethal (D) and challenger John Briscoe (R) made it through a crowded field in CA-47 (D+13). This is a repeat of the 2018 contest which Lowethal won comfortably (64.9%). Challenger Michelle Steel (R) won the contest to take on incumbent Harley Rouda (D) in CA-48 (R+4). This seat will be a top priority for Republicans to win back in November. Steel is a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. There was no contest in CA-49 (R+1) no meaning incumbent Mike Levin (D) will face Brian Maryott (R) in November.

In the open race in CA-50 (R+11) Darrell Issa (R) looks to have cleared the first hurdle in his bid to regain a congressional seat. Ammar Campa-Najjar (D) will be on the November ballot having won the primary with Issa in second ahead of Carl Demaio (R). There was no contest in CA-51 (D+6) which will be a battle of the Juans in November as incumbent Vargas (D) takes on Hidalgo (R). In CA-52 (D+6) Incumbent Scott Peters (D) will face Jim DeBello (R) in November. DeBello's campaign has focused on needs of the district and claimed that Congress had lost touch. There was an open primary in CA-53 (D+14) which will be a general election between two Democrats after Sara Jacobs and Georgette Gomez came out on top in this race. Chris Stoddard was the highest placed Republican in 3rd.

Illinois (March 17, 2020)

An interesting night in Illinois which saw the first incumbent defeated in a continuation of the moderate versus progressive battle in the Democratic Party. Elsewhere there was a competitive race in the Republican Party for the Senate and a host of other intriguing House races, some of which essentially electing new Representatives.

Starting in the IL-SEN (D+7), incumbent Dick Durbin (D) faced no challenger but there was an interesting battle among Republicans to face him in November. Lake County Sherriff Mark Curran came out on top in a five-way race. Curran has previously stated his support for some of President Trump’s policies such as building a wall along the Mexican border but has also taken some stances, such as support for DACA, that go against the President. He won the race, which received low turnout, in large part due to greater name recognition.

Over to the House and in IL-01 (D+27) incumbent Bobby Rush (D) faced three challengers in Sarah Gad, Robert Emmons and Ameena Matthews. Rush faced no major difficulty, receiving over 70% of the vote and each challenger struggling to get above 10%. There was no contest on the Republican side, meaning renal technician and former president of the Great Lakes Illinois Republican Women Philanise White will take on Rush in November.

In IL-02 (D+29), incumbent Robin Kelly (D) defeated perennial challenger Marcus Lewis with 85% of the vote. This was Lewis’ sixth attempt at running for this seat, he is yet to make it past the primary. Again, no Republican contest meaning Theresa Raborn will be on the ballot in November. Raborn is a home-schooling mom who is running against career politicians with the claim that she can bring solutions to Washington.

IL-03 (D+6) saw the first incumbent defeat of the 2020 primary cycle. Moderate Democrat Dan Lipinksi, who had a pro-life voting record, had previously refused to endorse President Obama and was against same-sex marriage was defeated by progressive Marie Newman. Newman was supported by Justice Democrats and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The district leans Democratic (D+6) so it is likely that Newman will be elected to Congress in November. The Lipinksi family have held the seat since 1982, with Dan’s father Bill representing the district until 2005. Newman previously ran against Lipinski in 2018 and came close to unseating him then, winning 49% of the vote. In November Newman will face off against Mike Fricilone. Fricilone won the Republican Primary, with the claim against his rivals that “The number one difference is that I’m not a Democrat or a Nazi.” The other candidates in the primary were moderate Catherine O’Shea and commit neo-Nazi Arthur Jones. Jones caused outrage in the Republican Party when he made it unopposed onto the general election ballot in 2018.

In IL-04 (D+33) there were no contests meaning incumbent Jesus Garcia (D) will face Christopher Lasky (R) in this heavily Democratic district in November. In IL-05 (D+20) moderate Democrat Mike Quigley defeated progressive Brian Burns in an ideological campaign, Burns did manage to get 25% of the vote. In the Republican race Tommy Hanson defeated Kimball Ladien to set up a repeat of the 2018 general election contest. Quigley won that race 77-23 two years ago.

There was no challenge to incumbent Sean Casten (D) in IL-06 (R+2). He’ll take on Club for Growth and FeedomWorks endorsed Jeanne Ives. Ives has campaigned on abortion and immigration and defeated the comparative moderate Jay Kinzler in the primary. Incumbent Danny Davis defeated three challengers in IL-07 (D+38) on Tuesday night but was held to 60% of the vote, the rest was shared almost evenly between Kina Collins, Anthony Clark and Kristine Schanbacher. No Republican primary meant Craig Cameron advanced straight to the November ballot in a rematch of their 2018 race. Davis won that contest 88-12.

In IL-08 (D+8) incumbent Raja Krishnamoorthi (D) defeated two challengers winning 80% of the votes. Krishnamoorthi is set for re-election in November with no Republican currently standing against him. No contests took place in IL-09 (D+18) where incumbent Jen Schakowsky (D) will take on challenger Sargis Sangari (R). Sangari competed for this seat in 2018 but was defeated in the primary. There were also no contests in IL-10 (D+10) meaning incumbent Brad Schneider (D) will face Valerie Ramirez Mukherjee (R) in November. Ramirez Mukherjee is running on competence grounds as a self-made businesswoman and against career politicians, the word Republican doesn’t feature on her website.

IL-11 (D+9) saw contests on both sides as moderate incumbent Bill Foster (D) was held to less than 60% of the vote by progressive challenger Rachel Ventura. An even closer contest in the Republican Party as veteran and sheriff’s sergeant Rick Laib defeated businessman Krishna Bansal. Bansal spent more money in a campaign focused on issues. It’s still too close to call between Raymond Lenzi and Joel Funk (both D) in IL-12 (R+5), Lenzi leads by less than 2,000 votes in the battle to take on incumbent Mike Bost (R) who faced no challenger in his primary.

In IL-13 (R+3) incumbent Rodney Davis (R) faced no primary challenger. In the Democratic contest Betsy Londrigan defeated Stefanie Smith 77-23. Londrigan narrowly lost to Davis by less than 1% in 2018 (50.4-49.6%). In IL-14 (R+5) Jim Oberweis (R) looks to have won a seven-way race to take on incumbent Lauren Underwood (D). Underwood gained this seat in 2018 and this looks set to be a close race in November. Oberweis is the owner of Oberweis Dairy and has previously run for House, Senate and Governor.

In the open seat of IL-15 (R+21) following John Shimkus’ retirement Mary Miller (R) will be the firm favorite after she comfortable won the Republican primary ahead of three other candidates. Miller is a staunch supporter of President Trump and received endorsements from Mark Meadows, Ted Cruz and FreedomWorks. She’ll face progressive Erika Weaver (D) who comfortably defeated three other Democrats on Tuesday. Weaver will face an uphill task against Miller in this staunchly Republican district.

No contests in IL-16 (R+8) where incumbent Adam Kinzinger (R) will take on community leader and activist Dani Brzozowski (D). No primary challenge either for incumbent Cheri Bustos (D) in IL-17 (D+2). Bustos will face Esther Joy King (R) after she won the Republican primary against 2018 candidate William Fawell on Tuesday. King aligned herself closely with President Trump and received the endorsement of Steve Scalise. Finally, in IL-18 (R+15) incumbent Darin LaHood (R) faced no primary challenger and with no Democrat running looks set to be re-elected in November.

Mississippi (March 11, 2020)

In the MS-SEN incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) didn’t face any challenger and so will be on the ballot in November. Hyde-Smith was first elected in a special election in 2018. She’ll face off against former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Epsy (D) in a repeat of that 2018 race. Epsy comfortably defeated his two primary opponents Tobey Bartee and Jensen Bohren, securing over 90% of the vote. 

In the House of Representatives MS-01 there were no primaries. Incumbent Trent Kelly (R) will face law professor Antonia Eliason (D) in November.

In MS-02 there were contest in both parties. Incumbent Bennie Thompson (D) had no problems against challenger Sonia Rathburn, winning 94% of the vote. The Republican race will go to a runoff between Brian Flowers and Thomas Carey after neither managed to win 50%, B.C. Hammond was eliminated. There was only 1.5% between the top-two candidates.

Over in MS-03 incumbent Michael Guest (R) took almost 90% of the vote against challenger James Tulp. In the Democratic race Dorothy Benford had no problems getting past Katelyn Lee, winning 64% of the vote and will take on Guest in November. Benford ran for Mississippi Public Service Commission last year, losing in the Democratic primary.

In MS-04 no Democratic candidates stood. Incumbent Steven Palazzo (R) will serve another two years, after defeating three other Republicans in the primary, winning 67% of the vote.

Nebraska (May 12, 2020)

Despite the coronavirus, primary voters in Nebraska’s three congressional districts went to the polls on Tuesday with few notable results. All four Republican incumbents will be on the ballot again in November, as the Democratic contests saw a continuation of establishment vs. progressive intraparty division.

In the NE-SEN (R+14) race, incumbent Ben Sasse (R) faced a challenge to his right from Matt Innis (R) who claimed he was the conservative in the race who would support President Trump. Sasse won the primary 75-25 and will face Chris Janicek (D) in November. Janicek came through a crowded field and won with 31% of the vote having been defeated in the primary two years ago on a good governance platform stating “it’s not about moving further right or moving further left. It’s about moving out state and this country forward for all of us.”

In NE-01 (R+11) incumbent Jeff Fortenberry (R) received no primary challenger and will be firm favourite for re-election in November. He will face Nebraska Legislature member Kate Bolz (D) who defeated progressive Babs Ramsey (D). Ramsey campaigned on universal healthcare, trade, and climate change, while Bolz focused on the impact of coronavirus on health and the economy, stating “we need to bring some common sense and common ground back to Washington, D.C.”

In NE-02 (R+4) incumbent Donald Bacon (R) will face a re-run of the 2018 match up with Kara Eastman (D). On Tuesday, Bacon comfortably defeated Paul Anderson (R) while progressive Eastman beat comparative moderate Ann Ashford (D). Gladys Harrison (D) finished a distant third. This district will likely be competitive in November, Bacon won 51-49 in 2018. A DCCC source leaked that their internal polling has Eastman up 48-47 over Bacon. A race worth keeping an eye on.

In NE-03 (R+27) incumbent Adrian Smith (R) comfortably defeated four challengers including Aaron Kowalski (R) and Justin Moran (R). Smith looks to have received over 80% of the votes and will face Mark Elworth (D) who advanced to the general without a primary contest. Smith will almost certainly be re-elected in November.

North Carolina (March 3, 2020)

Rules: If the winning candidate does not receive 30% of the votes, they enter a run-off with the second placed candidate.

A comfortable win for incumbent Thom Tillis in the NC-SEN (R+3) Republican primary with almost 80% of the vote with 60% of precincts report. On the Democratic side, Army Veteran Cal Cunningham has beaten progressive alternative Erica Smith and avoided the run-off, Cunningham has 56% of the vote with 61% of precincts reporting.

NC-01 (D+17) saw no Democratic contest but Sandy Smith has had a huge victory (77%) in the Republican contest to face incumbent G.K. Butterfield in November. This is a tough ask for Smith here in November; Butterfield received 70% of the vote in 2018. NC-02 (R+7) was an open contest. There was no Republican race, but Deborah Ross has a resounding victory over (70%) Monika Johnson Hostler in the Democratic primary. She'll face Alan Swain (R) in November. There were no contests in NC-03 (R+12) so it will be incumbent Greg Murphy (R) against Darryl Farrow (D) in November. NC-04 (D+17) saw a comfortable win for incumbent David Price (D) who will be challenged by Robert Thomas (R) in November. Thomas avoided a run-off, coming through a four-way race with almost 50% of the vote.

There was no challenge to incumbent Virginia Foxx (R) in NC-05 (R+10) where David Brown beat Eric Hughes in the Democratic primary. Brown was Democratic candidate in NC-10 in 2018, losing to Patrick McHenry. There were two open contests in NC-06 (R+9). Lee Haywood defeated Laura Pichardo in the Republican race and Kathy Manning emerging from a field of five Democrats without needing a run-off. Manning was the Democratic candidate for NC-13 in 2018, losing to Ted Budd. NC-07 (R+9) saw no challenge to incumbent David Rouzer (R). For the Democrats Christopher Ward defeated Mark Judson and Robert Colon. Ward prioritized his North Carolina roots and advocated a competence narrative throughout the primary contest. There were no contests in NC-08 (R+8) where Patricia Timmons-Goodson (D) will face incumbent Richard Hudson (R) in November.

After huge problems which resulted a special election last cycle there is no challenge to incumbent Dan Bishop (R) in NC-09 (R+8). Cynthia Wallace comfortably defeated three other Democrats to challenge Bishop in November. Wallace touted her business experience in the financial industry and is the chair of the 9th District Democratic Party. In NC-10 (R+12) two challengers to incumbent Patrick McHenry (R) were comfortably seen off. No contest on the Democratic side meaning former state party chair David Parker will be on the ballot in November. An open contest in NC-11(R+14) resulted in crowded fields in both parties here. Moe Davis will be the Democratic nominee, but the Republicans are going to need a run-off to separate Lynda Bennett (22.7%) & Madison Cawthorn (20.4%), Jim Davis was a close 3rd (19.3%). In NC-12 (D+18) incumbent Alma Adams (D) had no problems (88%) from challenger Keith Cradle. No contest on the Republican side, where Bill Brewster had originally filed but was disqualified after the filing deadline. It’s not clear at this stage if there will a Republican on the ballot in November, if there is it will probably be Brewster. Finally, NC-13 (R+6) saw no contests so incumbent Ted Budd (R) will face Scott Huffman (D). Huffman lost the Democratic primary for NC-08 in 2018.

Oregon (May 19, 2020)

As other states scheduled for May 19th moved their down ballot races into June due to Coronavirus, Oregon held an all-mail contest. Oregon has held its elections exclusively by mail since 1998.

In the OR-SEN (D+5) incumbent Jeff Merkley (D) was unopposed. The Republican race to challenge him in November was won by Jo Rae Perkins who took almost 50% of the votes. She touted her business and financial experience alongside her conservative credentials. In second place with just over 30% of the vote was Trump loyalist Paul Romero. Romero ran on a highly conservative platform and is scheduled to speak at an America First conference next month.

In the House, incumbent Suzanne Bonamici (D) won a landslide victory in OR-01 (D+9) against three challengers, all of whom currently have less than 7% of the vote with 65% reporting, with progressive alternative Amanada Siebe currently in third.  Bonamici looks set to face Christopher Christensen (R) who has almost 60% of the votes against Army Murray (R) with 48% reporting. Christensen campaigned heavily on his family’s pioneer history and extensively referenced that his great-great grandfather was a member of Congress, positioning his campaign as a legacy of stewardship. He defeated Republican Precinct Delegate Army Murray who ran a campaign on a more conservative platform.

The state’s only open race is OR-02 (R+11) where Greg Walden is retiring. Republicans picked Cliff Bentz from a field of eleven candidates despite raising significantly less money than favorite Knute Buehler (R). Bentz campaigned on his effective work in the state legislature, as Buehler tried to rebrand himself from a moderate in the previous gubernatorial race to a conservative Trump loyalist. Jason Atkinson and Jimmy Crumpacker (both R) were not far behind Buehler, Crumpacker received significant donations from pro-gun and pro-life groups. On the Democratic side, activist Alex Spenser and OurRevolution-backed Nick Heuertz are separated by less than 1,000 votes with 67% reporting. Regardless who wins, Bentz will be the strong favorite to head to Washington in this red district.

In OR-03 (D+24) incumbent Earl Blumenauer (D) had no problem holding off four challengers, receiving over 80% of the vote. Albert Lee (D) received 15% of the vote by running to the left of the progressive incumbent in this deep blue district with support from OurRevolution on a platform including a federal jobs guarantee, maximum wage, and free public transport for all. Blumenauer will face Joanna Harbour (R) in November after she Tom Harrison and Frank Hecker in the Republican primary. Harbour described her platform as “American First, Oregon First” and closely allied her positions with President Trump.

In OR-04 (EVEN) incumbent Peter DeFazio (D) defeated progressive community organizer Doyle Canning (D) in the Democratic primary. Doyle received the endorsement of Brand New Congress and local OurRevolution groups but looks set to receive less than 15% of the vote. DeFazio will face actor, writer, and former soldier Alek Skarlatos (R) in November after he defeated computer engineer Nelson Ijih (R). Skarlatos gained international recognition when he stopped a terrorist on a French train in 2015 and is currently outraising DeFazio This is a race worth keeping an eye on in November.

Finally, in OR-05 (EVEN) incumbent Kurt Schrader (D), the most moderate of Oregon’s Democratic members of congress, defeated progressive Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba (D). Gamba ran a campaign closely allied with Bernie Sanders and the race was seen as a test of how influential the progressive Portland suburbs would be over the rural communities and smaller towns in the district, Gamba has received 22% of the vote with 70% reporting. Andrew Yang supporter Blair Reynolds (D) came third with a universal basic income platform. Schrader will face Amy Ryan Courser (R) in November after she comfortably won a four-way race for the Republican nomination. Courser ran a campaign focused on conservative values and her experience in the district, without directly referencing President Trump. G. Shane Dinkel and Joey Nations (both R) ran on explicitly Trump-allied platforms and finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Texas (March 3, 2020)

Rules: Candidates here need 50% of votes to becoming the nominee, anything less and they face a run-off. There were lots of important races here, not least in the Senate.

In TX-SEN (R+8) incumbent John Cornyn appears to have no problems, with 75% of the vote at the time of writing. The Democratic race will be going to a run-off however and it's still unclear who the second candidate will be with 99% of precincts reporting. Establishment-backed M.J. Hegar has won the race but Royce West on 13.9% and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez backed Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez on 13.7% will both hope to finish second. Hegar will be the favorite in the run-off regardless of opposition.

In TX-01 (R+25) there was no primary for the Democrats meaning Hank Gilbert will be on the ballot in November. Incumbent Louie Gohmert (R) was challenged by Johnathan Davidson but received almost 90% of the vote. TX-02(R+11) featured no challenge to incumbent Dan Crenshaw (R). Three became two for the Democrats, with Sima Ladjevardian and Elisa Cardnell heading to the run-off. Ladjevardian narrowly missed out on avoiding the run-off (48%) and will be favorite to make it on November's ballot. TX-03 (R+13) had another unchallenged Republican incumbent, Van Taylor, and another Democratic race heading to a run-off. Lulu Seikaly narrowly beat Sean McCaffity but neither of them reached 50%. Less than 500 votes separated these candidates. There were no contests in TX-04(R+28) where challenger Russell Foster (D) and incumbent John Ratcliffe (R) went straight onto November's ballot.

In TX-05 (R+16) challenger Carolyn Salter (D) advanced to the general with no primary competition. Incumbent Lance Gooden handily defeated (85%) Don Hill in the Republican race. TX-06 (R+9) featured no primary activity. Stephen Daniel (D) will face incumbent Ron Wright (R) in November. Daniel is running an issue focused campaign focused on healthcare. In TX-07 (R+7) incumbent Lizzie Fletcher (D) didn't face any challenge from within her party. West Point and Cornell graduate Wesley Hunt avoided the need for a run-off coming through a Republican field of six candidates with 61%. Hunt campaigned on national issues, in particular against the "extreme anti-energy policies of Washington special interests and the radical Green New Deal."

In TX-08 (R+28) incumbent Kevin Brady (R) held off two challengers, receiving 81% of the vote. The Democratic race was closer with accountant Elizabeth Hernandez defeating Laura Jones. Hernandez cited her accounting experience to help solve fiscal issues and was critical of the level of national debt. In TX-09 (D+29) there were no problems (84%) for incumbent Al Green (D) against Melissa Wilson in the Democratic primary. Pastor Johnny Teague (R) also managed to avoid the need for a run-off (59%) against two other Republicans. TX-10 (R+9) held no challenge for incumbent Michael McCaul (R) but the Democrats are heading for a run-off. Mike Siegel defeated Pritesh Gandhi but neither managed 50% of the votes in a three-way race with Shannon Hutcheson.

There was an open contest in TX-11 (R+32). Only Jon Hogg stood for the Democrats in what promises to be a thankless task between now and November. Given the nature of the seat Republican interest was high with ten candidates on the ballot. August Pfluger is almost certain to be the new Representative after he managed 52% of the vote to avoid a run-off. Pluger received the endorsement of President Trump but was notably the only leading candidate who refused to commit to joining the House Freedom Caucus, stating "my oath is to the Constitution, not a caucus" In TX-12 (R+18) incumbent Kay Granger (R) survived (58%) a challenge from Chris Putnam (42%) focused on her role in spending bill negotiations. There were no problems for challenger Lisa Welch (D) (82%) against Danny Anderson but she'll face an uphill task in November.

There was an open contest in TX-13 (R+33) following Mac Thornberry's retirement. This led to run-offs on both sides as Gus Trujillo and Greg Sagan advance for the Democrats. 15 Republicans ran for this seat, with President Trump's former doctor Ronny Jackson finishing second behind Josh Winegarner, a former adviser to Senator John Cornyn. There were no run-offs needed in TX-14 (R+12) as incumbent Randy Weber (R) (85%) and teacher Adrienne Bell (D) (62%) comfortable won their respective primaries. This is a repeat of the 2018 race which Weber won 59%-39%. There was no challenge to incumbent Vicente Gonzalez (D) in TX-15 (D+7) but Monica De La Cruz-Hernandez and Ryan Krause (both R) are heading to a runoff on May 26th. Incumbent Veronica Escobar (D) faced no primary challenge in TX-16 (D+17). Sam Williams and Irene Armendariz-Jackson emerged from a field of six Republican candidates to the run-off. Williams prioritized veterans’ affairs and immigration.

TX-17 (R+12) was an open contest following the retirement of Bill Flores. For the Democrats Rick Kennedy and David Jaramillo will advance to the run-off, with Kennedy narrowly (48%) missing out on avoiding it. It proved an interesting race on the Republican side with a crowded field of 12 candidates. Former Representative Pete Sessions won the primary race and looks like he will face business owner Renee Swann. Swann, who was endorsed by the retiring Flores, finished less than 1% ahead of George Hindman in third.

No issues for incumbent Shelia Jackson Lee (D) (76%) despite facing six different challengers in TX-18 (D+27). Republicans will head to a run-off, with Wendell Champion having won the primary. He'll face either Robert Cadena or T.C. Manning who are separated by less than 200 votes with 385 of 401 precincts reporting. The challenge to incumbent Jodey Arrington (R) easily seen off (90%) in TX-19 (R+27). Only one Democrat filed meaning Tom Watson advanced straight to the general. In TX-20 (D+10) incumbent Joaquin Castro (D) had no problems (92%) against two challengers. Mauro Garza won the Republican primary but will face a run-off against either Gary Allen. There was no challenge to incumbent Chip Roy (R) in TX-21 (R+10). For the Democrats 2014 gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis defeated Jennie Lou Leeder.

An open contest in TX-22 (R+10). Sri Kulkarni (D) advanced directly to the general after taking 53% of the vote in a four-way race. Troy Nehls and Kathaleen Wall will need a run-off to decide who will be the Republican candidate after they came through a field of 15. The winner of that run-off will be the firm favorite to win the seat in November. Another open contest TX-23 (R+1) saw Gina Ortiz Jones avoided the need for a run-off, taking 67% of the vote in the Democratic primary. Tony Gonzalez won the Republican race but will face a run-off against Raul Reyes in May to become the nominee.

One more open contest in TX-24 (R+9) saw primaries on both sides. Kim Olson and Candace Valenzuela advance to the Democratic run-off. For the Republicans Beth Van Duyne will be on the ballot in November having received 64% of the vote. In TX-25 (R+11) there were primaries in both parties as Roger Williams (R) comfortably defeated (88%) challenger Keither Neuendorf. Jule Oliver (D) won the right to face Williams in November, winning 70% of the vote against Heidi Sloan.

In TX-26 (R+18) there were no problems (74%) for incumbent Michael Burgess (R) against three Republican challengers. Carol Iannuzzi (D) also avoided the need for a run-off (55%) against two other Democrats. In TX-27(R+13) no challenge to incumbent Michael Cloud (R). But exciting news in the Democratic primary where a De La Fuente won a primary and will be on the ballot in November! For those unfamiliar with this family there are several members who keep running (and losing) in primaries. Information on Rocky who ran in multiple races in the last two cycles is here, he's also currently running for President. Here his son Ricardo has finally brought some electoral success to the De La Fuente name. More on the family here:

TX-28 (D+9) saw no Republican primary so challenger Sandra Whitten (R) will be on the ballot. Moderate incumbent Henry Cuellar, who was supported by establishment groups finished slightly ahead (52%-48%) of Justice Democrats' endorsed Jessica Cisneros. This is a good result for moderates and the Democratic establishment, this is a pattern I expect will continue in future races this cycle. In TX-29 (D+19) there was no challenge to incumbent Slyvia Garca (D). Jaimy Blanco edged out Robert Schafranek in the Republican race. Blanco and Schafranek both failed to make the run-off in this district last time. Garcia has little to fear here in November. In TX-30 (D+29) challenger Tre Pennie was the only Republican so advanced to the general election. Incumbent Eddie Johnson had no concerns (72%) against three other Democrats. Similarly, there were no problems for incumbent John Carter (R) (82%) in TX-31 (R+10). Christine Mann and Donna Imam advanced to the Democratic run-off for the right to take on Carter in November.

There was no challenge to incumbent Colin Allred (D) in TX-32 (R+5). The Republican field featured five candidates, but the race was between Genevieve Collins and Floyd McLendon. Collins won and managed to avoid the run-off with 53% of the vote. Incumbent Marc Veasay had no problems (66%) in TX-33 (D+23). He'll face Fabian Vasquez (R) who advanced to the general without a primary. In TX-34 (D+10) incumbent Filemon Vela (D) saw off two challengers. A close Republican contest between Rey Gonzalez and Rod Lingsch was won by Gonzalez with 56% of the vote. In TX-35 (D+15) incumbent Lloyd Doggett (D) comfortably defeated (74%) challenger Rafael Alcoser. A close Republican race between three candidates resulted in a run-off between Jenny Sharon (37%) and William Hayward (34%), where Nick Moutos (29%) missed out. Finally, in TX-36 (R+26) challenger Rashad Lewis was the only Democrat who stood so will face incumbent Brian Babin (R) who comfortably navigated his primary contest (90%).