Voters will head to the polls Tuesday to cast their primary votes in crucial states to help shape the next Congress, with races that feature everything from establishment candidates to tea party darlings and the first-time campaigners with well-known political names. Here’s a preview of five of some of the hottest races on Super Tuesday:
There are seven contenders for the GOP nomination for Georgia’s U.S. Senate seat. The crowded field makes the race unpredictable, although it’s almost certain that the contest will lead to a runoff, as no candidate is expected to push past the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid one.
David Purdue, a businessman and cousin of former Republican Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, has consistently led the field in a number of polls released this month, according to data from Real Clear Politics. U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., is backed by the Chamber of Commerce and is battling former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, who has the support of Sarah Palin, for second place. Tea party candidates and U.S. Reps. Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey are also in the mix, although it appears they won’t secure a runoff spot as they lag in polls.
The primary winner, which won’t be decided until July if there's a runoff, will go on to face Democrat Michelle Nunn, a first-time candidate and daughter of former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga.
The Keystone State features another key Super Tuesday race, as the winner of the Democratic primary for governor has a viable shot at unseating unpopular Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. Businessman Tom Wolf, who committed to spend $10 million of his own money to win the seat, has been leading in a number of polls in the last month. The latest survey, released Sunday by the Allentown Morning Call, shows Wolf trouncing his closest competitor, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, 41 percent to 16 percent. Schwartz was seen as the likely winner of the primary at the outset of the contest.
Schwartz’ House seat, which is open due to her Senate run, is also a race to watch because the Clintons have given fundraising help to one of the seat’s contenders, former U.S. Rep. Marjorie Margolies. Margolies is the mother-in-law of Chelsea Clinton, and she’s received an assist from former President Bill Clinton, who appeared in an ad on her behalf. But how much reach does the Clinton influence still have? Margolies has reportedly had difficulty connecting with voters and is in a tough race with Brendan Boyle, a state legislator.
Oregon’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate was expected to be a shoo-in for pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby, the first woman to graduate from UCLA’s neurosurgery program. But the race became hot last week after news of a 2007 police report in which her then-husband claimed she was harassing him as the couple was going through a divorce. Audio recordings of the 911 call were also released.
Oregon is a state that allows voting via mail, and the story came out on Friday, the same day that mail votes could be cast, so it remains unclear if it will derail Wehby’s run.
The Bluegrass State is on the radar because Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who doesn’t have as much popularity in his home state as you might expect, is being challenged by businessman Matt Bevin. While the contest first appeared to be a primary to watch because Bevin is a well-funded candidate, recent polls show McConnell being expected to pull off a sizeable victory. The poll, released Saturday and conducted by a number of Kentucky media outlets and SurveyUSA, has McConnell with a 20-point advantage in the primary.
McConnell’s biggest challenge may be in the general election, where that same poll showed Democrat and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes with a 1-point lead over McConnell, 43 percent to 42 percent.