Indiana, North Carolina and West Virginia primaries: What to watch for

at 01:28 PM ET, 05/08/2012

Indiana Republican Sen. Richard Lugar’s likely demise and the gubernatorial recall primary in Wisconsin aren’t the only two races worth watching tonight. There are also some key House, Senate and governor primaries in Indiana, North Carolina and West Virginia.

Two of those states — Indiana and North Carolina — represent relatively rare opportunities for the House Republicans to play some offense this year.

In addition, North Carolina Democrats will pick their gubernatorial nominee in the marquee governor’s race of 2012 (after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s recall election, that is), and West Virginia will hold its governor, Senate and congressional primaries.

There are lots of moving parts; that’s where we come in. Here’s a cheat sheet of what you need to know, state by state and race by race. Impress your friends! Vanquish your enemies!

NORTH CAROLINA (Polls close: 7:30 p.m. eastern)

* Governor: Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and former congressman Bob Etheridge are battling for the right to face former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory (R). Dalton appears to have the edge, but McCrory probably starts this race as the favorite either way. There is a slight chance that the race could go to a runoff, too, if the other four candidates take enough of the vote to hold both Dalton and Etheridge below 40 percent.

* 3rd district: Rep. Walter Jones (R) regularly votes against his party and could be vulnerable to a primary challenge because of it. But at this point, there’s not much reason to believe that former New Bern Police Chief Frank Palombo can knock him off. Notably, the anti-incumbent super PAC Campaign for Primary Accountability did not get involved here.

* 7th district: Rep. Mike McIntyre (D) is a top target after his home was drawn out of his district, which also got considerably more Republican (going 58 percent for John McCain in 2008). But he’s a survivor. National Republicans would prefer state Sen. David Rouzer as their nominee rather than Iraq veteran Ilario Pantano, who came up short against McInytre in 2010 despite a strongly favorably electoral environment. Pantano also has baggage. But this seat will be a top GOP target regardless of who wins tonight.

* 8th district: Rep. Larry Kissell (D), like McIntyre, is a survivor whose task got much tougher in redistricting. His new district would have gone about 57 percent for McCain in 2008. A crowded GOP field here could lead to a runoff if no candidate gets 40 percent of the vote. The top candidates appear to be former congressional aide Richard Hudson, who is backed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and dentist Scott Keadle, who has the Club for Growth behind him. A potential spoiler is former Winston-Salem City Councilman Vernon Robinson, who Fix readers may remember from some extremely over-the-top ads he ran in past campaigns.

* 11th district: Rep. Heath Shuler (D) retired rather than run in what is now the state’s most conservative district. His former chief of staff, Hayden Rogers, is the likely Democratic standard-bearer in this uphill battle. The GOP primary is VERY crowded. Businessman Mark Meadows appears to have the edge, but he could face a runoff, potentially with businessman Vance Patterson.

* 13th district: Democrats have basically given up hope of holding retiring Rep. Brad Miller’s (D) seat, which was decimated in redistricting. Former U.S. attorney George Holding is the strong GOP favorite here and will probably soon be a congressman.

INDIANA (All polls close by 7 p.m. eastern)

* 2nd district: The matchup here is pretty much set, with Iraq veteran Brendan Mullen (D) facing 2010 GOP nominee and former state representative Jackie Walorski (R) this fall. President Obama would have taken just 50 percent of the vote in this newly drawn district in a state where he significantly over-performed in 2008, so Republicans have a good shot to nab this seat.

* 8th district: This race is also all but set, with freshman Rep. Larry Bucshon (D) likely to face former state representative Dave Crooks. One subplot to watch, though, is how Bucshon does in his primary against 2010 opponent Kristi Risk. Risk hasn’t raised much money, but she did finish second to Bucshon in their open 2010 primary.

WEST VIRGINIA (Polls close: 7:30 p.m. eastern)

* Governor: Businessman Bill Maloney (R) is a cinch to face Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) after falling by just three points in 2011. Could he fare better this year, given how anti-Obama the state is? A media poll in April showed Tomblin leading by 28 points despite GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney leading Obama by 17 points. Those are stunning numbers

* Senate: Sen. Joe Manchin (D) also faces a rematch with businessman John Raese. But given Raese couldn’t win a special election in 2010 (or in three previous statewide bids), and Manchin remains VERY popular in his home state. It’s hard to see why Manchin doesn’t win a full term. The same poll that showed Tomblin up 28 points showed Manchin up by 52 (!), 74 percent to 22 percent.

* 3rd district: Republicans are keeping an eye on state Del. Rick Snuffer (R) — GREAT name — in hopes that he can raise some money and give Rep. Nick Joe Rahall (D) a race, but this is still a lower-tier target.

 
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