Primary preview: Trump’s presence very much felt in Alabama GOP Senate race – Spectrum News NY1

The runoff for the Republican nomination in Alabama’s Senate election — which includes a Donald Trump-endorsed candidate facing a congressman who was once one of the ex-president’s staunchest supporters — highlights Tuesday’s slate of primaries.


What You Need To Know

  • Alabama and Georgia are holding primary runoffs Tuesday, while voters in Virginia and the District of Columbia head to the polls for the first time this midterm season
  • Republicans Katie Britt and Mo Brooks are squaring off in the race to replace retiring Sen. Richard Shelby, an election in which Trump’s presence is very much being felt
  • There are four Republican and two Democratic House primaries in the Peach State, with the GOP race in the 10th District growing especially heated
  • Virginia is the only state holding a regular primary Tuesday — two Democratic-controlled districts are considered “toss-ups” 

Georgia also is holding runoffs, while voters in Virginia and the District of Columbia head to the polls for the first time this midterm season.

Here are the top races to watch Tuesday.

Alabama

Republicans Katie Britt and Mo Brooks are squaring off in the race to replace retiring Sen. Richard Shelby, an election in which Trump’s presence is very much being felt.

Britt was the top vote-getter in the crowded May 24 primary, receiving 45.2%, compared to Brooks’ 28.6%. Since that election, Britt, a former Shelby chief of staff, has received the coveted nomination of Trump, who called Britt “a fearless America First Warrior.”

Brooks, who represents Alabama’s 5th District in the House, once had Trump’s endorsement in this race and was one of the former president’s fiercest allies on Capitol Hill, pushing Trump’s false election fraud claims and becoming the first member of Congress to say he’d formally object to Joe Biden’s win.

Trump, however, soured on Brooks after the congressman’s poll numbers sagged and he told a rally crowd to “put (the 2020 election) behind you.” Brooks’ campaign rebounded to force the runoff, but it would be a stunning upset if he defeats Britt on Tuesday. Polls last week by Emerson College and Auburn University Montgomery both had Britt with at least a 16-point lead over Brooks.

The Britt-Brooks winner will face Democratic nominee Will Boyd in November.

Only one primary for Alabama’s seven House seats requires a runoff. In the 5th District, which Brooks is vacating, Dale Strong, a volunteer firefighter and chairman of the Madison County Commission, and Casey Wardynski, a former Army assistant secretary and ex-schools superintendent, are vying for the GOP nomination. 

Strong led a six-person field with 44.7% of the vote last month.

Georgia

There are four Republican and two Democratic House primaries in the Peach State.

The GOP race in the 10th District has grown especially heated. Trucking company owner Mike Collins has handed out rape whistles with former state Rep. Vernon Jones’ name on it to remind voters Jones was accused of rape in 2005. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation investigated but Jones was never charged. Jones’ attorney insisted the encounter was consensual. Collins also has sent out mailers calling Jones, who is Black and a former Democrat, a radically anti-white racist.”

Jones has accused Collins of using the “same attack methods Democrats and RINOs (Republicans in name only) used” against Trump.

Trump has endorsed Jones. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has thrown his support behind Collins. Collins received 25.6% of the vote last month, while Jones had 21.6%.

Both candidates have amplified Trump’s election fraud lie. They are seeking to fill the seat being vacated by Rep. Jody Hice, who unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination to become Georgia’s secretary of state.

In the 6th District in Atlanta’s northern suburbs, physician Rich McCormick and attorney Jake Evans, whom Trump has nominated, have been accusing each other of not being conservative enough. 

McCormick, who never conceded after losing in the 7th District in 2020, alleging voter fraud, received was the top vote-getter last month with 43.2%. Evans, whose father, Randy, served as ambassador to Luxembourg under Trump, had 23%.

The district was redrawn after the 2020 census and is now more Republican leaning. Its current congresswoman, Democrat Lucy McBath, is running in a neighboring district. 

The 2nd District, meanwhile, is expected to be Georgia’s most competitive in November. Republicans Jeremy Hunt and Chris West are battling for the chance to unseat longtime Democratic incumbent Sanford Bishop.

Virginia

Virginia is the only state holding a regular primary Tuesday, but there are only a handful of congressional nominations being decided. That’s because not all nominations were contested and the state gives the parties the option to run their own nominating contests, such as conventions, in select districts.

One Democratic and four Republican House primaries are being held. The state does not have a U.S. Senate seat up for grabs this year.

The Cook Political Report rates two Democratic-controlled districts “toss-ups,” which could prove to be key as Republicans try to win back control of Congress. Elaine Luria in the 2nd Congressional District and Abigail Spanberger in the 7th District were unopposed for their Democratic nominations. Now they’re waiting to find out which Republicans they’ll face in November.

In the 2nd District, which includes Virginia Beach, home to several military facilities, four veterans are competing for the Republican nomination and opportunity to take on Luria, a retired Naval commander herself. Based on fundraising and polling, state Sen. Jen Kiggans, a former Navy helicopter pilot who has the backing of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, appears to be the favorite. 

Among Kiggans’ opponents is Jarome Bell, who believes the 2020 presidential election was stolen and everyone involved should be executed.

Luria serves on the House committee investigating the violent Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that was fueled by false election fraud claims.

In the 7th District, four of the six GOP candidates have received high-profile endorsements. 

  • State Sen. Bryce Reeves has the backing of GOP Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida. 

  • Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the No. 3 House Republican, has endorsed Stafford County Board of Supervisors member Crystal Vanuch. 

  • And Prince William County Board of Supervisors member Yesli Vega has the support of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; and former Congressman David Brat, who represented the district from 2014-19.

Vega would become Virginia’s first Hispanic member of Congress if she wins.

In her past two runs, Spanberger won the seat by less than 2 percentage points, and this year’s election is expected to be tight again.

District of Columbia

Two-term Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser faces a trio of challengers from within her party at a time when the nation’s capital is batting surging crime rates and homelessness. 

Her opponents include two D.C. Council members: Robert White and Trayon White — no relation. A Lake Research Partners poll last week had Robert White four percentage points behind Bowser, but within the margin of error.

Also running is James Butler, a former lawyer who led an advisory neighborhood commission.

Since the district began holding popular elections for mayor in 1975, only Democrats have held the office.

Three Democrats also are running to become the District of Columbia’s nonvoting, at-large House delegate. Eleanor Holmes Norton has occupied the seat since 1991. 

One GOP candidate, Nelson Rimensnyder, also is running.

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