Three questions in the Arkansas and Kentucky primaries
Republicans and Democrats will pick their nominees for a pair of open seats in Arkansas and Kentucky on Tuesday, while Democrats choose their candidate against targeted freshman Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.).
The trio of House primaries highlight what is otherwise a pretty sleepy primary day in which President Obama’s performance in the Arkansas primary will likely be the most intriguing storyline
For those watching the battle for the House — political nerds unite! -- below are the three key questions that will be answered as tonight’s results roll in.
1. Do Republicans win Rep. Miss Ross’s (D-Ark.) seat?
This is one of the Democrats’ toughest holds this year, with the longtime Democratic incumbent retiring in a conservative-leaning district. Republicans are counting on gains in seats like this to make Democrats’ odds of reclaiming the House tougher.
On the GOP side, Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Tom Cotton leads the way and has raised by far the most money ($1 million). The question seems to be whether he gets enough of the vote (50 percent) to avoid a runoff. Beth Anne Rankin, a former aide to ex-Arkansas governor
Mike Huckabee, appears to be his top competition. A recent independent poll put Cotton ahead of Rankin 51 percent to 33 percent, with a third candidate taking 6 percent.
On the Democratic side, the same poll showed attorney Q. Byrum Hurst (great name!) and state Sen. Gene Jeffress likely headed for a runoff, with Hurst at 23 percent and Jeffress at 22 percent. Neither man has raised even close to the $1 million Cotton has brought in, but Hurst has been named to the “emerging races” portion of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” program for top candidates.
2. Can Democrats go after Crawford?
Despite hailing from a conservative-leaning district that he won in 2010, Crawford’s 1st district was held by a Democrat for 126(!) years before that.
Democrats hope state Rep. Clark Hall can make this race competitive, but first he’s got a primary with prosecutor Scott Ellington and a third candidate. That race, like the Democratic primary in Ross’s district, could be headed for a runoff.
A Democratic poll conducted in October showed Crawford could be vulnerable, with his favorable rating at just 38 percent and his unfavorable rating at 49 percent. But that’s an old poll and it notably didn’t include any head-to-head matchups.
3. Who claims Rep. Geoff Davis’s (R-Ky.) seat?
Davis was once a Democratic target, but this race is likely over once the GOP primary wraps up.
Lewis County Judge-Executive Tom Massie (R) has been getting lots of tea party and conservative support – including from the Club for Growth and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) – and appears to be the favorite heading into primary day, but state Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington has Davis’s endorsement and support, and Boone County Judge-Executive Gary Moore could be a player too.
On the Democratic side, no candidate has raised even $20,000.