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Four States to Chose Midterm Nominees 05/22 06:14
ATLANTA (AP) -- Four states will cast ballots Tuesday as the 2018 midterm
elections take shape. Voters in Arkansas, Georgia and Kentucky hold primaries,
while Texans settle several primary runoffs after their first round of voting
in March. Some noteworthy story lines:
IN THIS #METOO MIDTERM, A BIG DAY FOR WOMEN
Texans will settle an all-female congressional runoff between liberal
activist Laura Moser and Houston attorney Lizzie Fletcher in a Houston-area
House race that has become a proxy for the Democratic Party's battle over style
and substance. The winner faces Republican Rep. John Culberson in the fall.
Women also could claim nominations in two other Texas congressional
districts on Democrats' national target list. In the metro-Dallas district now
represented by Republican Pete Sessions, it's attorney Lillian Salerno vs.
attorney Colin Allred. Both are former Obama administration officials; Allred's
also a former player for the NFL's Dallas Cowboys. In a San Antonio-Mexican
border district, Gina Ortiz Jones is vying to become the first openly lesbian
Latina congresswoman from her state.
The three Texas districts are among the 25 nationally where President Donald
Trump ran behind Hillary Clinton in 2016. Democrats must flip 24 GOP-held seats
for a House majority.
In Georgia, Democrats will tap either Stacey Abrams or Stacey Evans as the
state's first female nominee for governor from either major party. If Abrams
ultimately were to prevail in November, she'd become the first black female
governor in any state capital.
GOP MELEE IN GEORGIA
Georgia's Republican candidates for governor have engaged in a sprint to the
right on everything from immigration to bear-hugging Trump.
Secretary of State Brian Kemp set the curve with his home-stretch ads. In
one, he wields a shotgun alongside a young male suitor of his teenage daughter.
Another features an explosion (what Kemp says he does to government spending),
a chain saw (he'll use it to cut regulations), and Kemp driving a pickup truck
(which he says might come in handy to "round up criminal illegals").
Michael Williams, a state senator lagging badly in public polls, followed
suit by campaigning with a "deportation bus." When it broke down --- literally
--- he suggested leftists had put water in the gas tank.
Kemp is trying to secure a second-place finish to qualify for a likely
runoff against Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who has GOP business establishment support
but also touts his determination to "protect" Georgians from "criminal illegal
The question is whether Cagle leads by enough to suggest that he's a clear
runoff favorite. A second round between Cagle and Kemp could escalate the
rhetoric and spook Georgia Republicans accustomed to more centrist,
business-aligned politicians who rarely flout Atlanta-based behemoths like
Delta and Coca-Cola. Some of those GOP figures worry the gamesmanship already
has ensured Georgia won't land Amazon's second headquarters.
A HEALTH CARE PREVIEW IN ARKANSAS
While Washington fixates on the daily glut of developments in the Russia
election meddling investigation, Democratic congressional candidates insist
they'll win in November arguing about bread-and-butter issues like health care.
Arkansas state Rep. Clarke Tucker is running for Congress in a Little
Rock-based district by telling his story as a cancer survivor. His first target
is a crowded Democratic field. His real target is Republican Rep. French Hill,
who voted many times to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
NATIONAL DEMOCRATS' SCORE SHEET
Several congressional matchups will test Democrats' recruiting and campaign
strategies. In metro Houston, national Democrats' House campaign arm incensed
liberals when operatives unloaded opposition research essentially calling Laura
Moser a carpetbagger.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hasn't endorsed her
opponent, but the implications were clear: Washington Democrats think Moser is
too liberal to flip the seat in November. Moser parlayed voter disgust with
DCCC's maneuver into her runoff spot, but Moser says the unusual move hurt her
fundraising and momentum in the long run.
The DCCC initially missed in the Dallas-area seat: Its preferred candidate
didn't make the runoff. The committee has since shifted to Allred, the civil
rights attorney and former NFL player.
National Democrats say they'd be OK in Kentucky's 6th District with Amy
McGrath, a veteran fighter pilot who garnered national attention with her
announcement video that detailed her struggles against sexism as she pursued
her goals. But the national party's initial recruit in the race is Lexington
Mayor Jim Gray, who lost a 2016 Senate race to Republican Sen. Rand Paul.
GEORGIA DEMS: TEST OF STRATEGY AND TACTICS
The battle between Stacey Abrams, 44, and Stacey Evans, 40, in Georgia
Democrats' primary for governor is a microcosm of the national party's debate
Abrams, a former state House minority leader, is an African-American
attorney from the Democratic bastion of Atlanta who says the way to turn
GOP-run Georgia into a battleground is to take an unabashedly liberal message
to potential voters who aren't casting ballots. That group, she says
matter-of-factly, invariably trends young and nonwhite.
Evans, 40, is a white attorney who represented suburban Atlanta in the
General Assembly, insists that the path involves the traditional Democratic
base while coaxing back voters (read: white voters) that Democrats have lost.
It's very much a reflection of the 2016 post-mortem: Did Hillary Clinton
lose because too many nonwhite Democrats stayed home or because too many whites
defected to Trump?
TED CRUZ 2.0
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a favorite for re-election this fall, backed two former
staffers among his many endorsees this primary season. One failed to advance in
March. But a second, Chip Roy, is in a GOP runoff for the House seat being
opened by the retirement of Republican Rep. Lamar Smith. Cruz would love to
place another ally among House conservatives, particularly one who once served
as his chief of staff.
Republicans outvoted Democrats in some big-state early primaries this year
--- Texas on March 6 and Ohio on May 8. There'll be plenty of eyeballs on the
respective vote totals of the two parties in Georgia. In those three Texas
congressional battlegrounds, partisans will compare Democratic runoff turnout
to the March vote totals of the three vulnerable Republican congressmen.
Worth noting, of course: Reactions to those numbers will be as much about
claiming momentum as they will be about actual predictive value for November.