The Fix’s top 10 primaries of 2014


Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) is seen in his campaign headquarters in 2010 in Honolulu. Abercrombie is in deep trouble in his primary this year. (Marco Garcia for the Washington Post)

If you're a big follower of The Fix -- and we know you all are -- you'll notice that we haven't had many primaries to cover lately. That's because we're in a thing called the month of July, during which states know better than to schedule their elections.

The good news? Primary season is about to pick up again, and more than one-third of the country (18 states) has yet to hold its primaries.

FridayLine

The vast majority of the most interesting primaries are over, but there are still important races to play out.

The good news for Republicans is that those races include relatively few big tea party primaries. While that has been the biggest subplot of primary seasons for years, it's looking more and more as though the GOP establishment has escaped the 2014 election cycle without an incumbent senator being defeated.

That could change, as the list below shows, but for now, this list includes about as much Democratic infighting as GOP infighting. And that, truly, is a change of pace.

To the line!

10. Alabama's 6th District Republican runoff (July 15)/Massachusetts 6th District Democratic primary (Sept. 9): It's been a tough cycle for the anti-tax Club for Growth, which saw its crowd-sourced candidate fizzle in Idaho's 2nd District and spent heaps of cash in Mississippi for losing Senate candidate Chris McDaniel. The Club will look for some measure of redemption in the race for retiring Rep. Spencer Bachus's (R-Ala.) seat next week, where it is backing Gary Palmer -- after its first-choice candidate failed to make the primary runoff. The conservative Palmer is pitted against state Rep. Paul DeMarco, who received the most votes in round one. Meanwhile, in the Bay State, Rep. John Tierney (D) is trying to get by Iraq war veteran Seth Moulton. Tierney is favored, but the late primary gives the underdog Moulton time to make up ground.

9. Tennessee Republican Senate primary (Aug. 7): Sen. Lamar Alexander is in strong position to defeat his main primary challenger, state Rep. Joe Carr. Carr has been running to Alexander's right on immigration. But he simply hasn't raised the money or built the kind of support from national tea party groups he needed to make this a really close race. Anything can happen, as Rep. Eric Cantor's (R-Va.) race taught us. But if you're looking for the next incumbent upset, this probably isn't it.


Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., speaks to reporters in Nashville in January. (Mark Humphrey/AP)

8. Hawaii Democratic governor primary (Aug. 9): Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) is a familiar name to folks in D.C., having represented the Aloha State in Congress. Now he's an unpopular governor facing a tough reelection bid -- both in the primary and the general election. A recent poll, in fact, showed state Sen. David Ige with a double-digit lead over Abercrombie in the primary, 48 percent to 37 percent. Polling in Hawaii is notoriously difficult, but it's clear Abercrombie's in trouble. The good news for him: He's outraising Ige more than 10-to-1.

7. Rhode Island Democratic governor primary (Sept. 9): Rhode Island's politics never disappoint (except perhaps if you're, you know, from Rhode Island), and this years governor's race is no exception. State Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras are both considered rising stars in their party, and they're locked in a tight race for the Democratic nomination for governor. Polls show it's a margin-of-error race. The winner will be favored to succeed retiring Gov. Lincoln Chafee (D), with the GOP picking between Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and former Moderate Party nominee Ken Block.

6. Kansas Republican Senate primary (Aug. 5): This could be the tea party's last, best hope of unseating a big-time incumbent, but so far, physician/Obama cousin Milton Wolf hasn't landed big-name support for his challenge to Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). Roberts has hardly run a flawless campaign, and he keeps stepping in it when it comes to his (lack of) residency in Kansas. But an automated SurveyUSA poll last month showed him leading Wolf by 33 points. Keep an eye on this, but don't expect an upset.

5. Alaska Republican Senate primary (Aug. 19): Former attorney general Dan Sullivan remains the candidate to beat here. Underdog Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell got a boost from conservative blogger Erick Erickson last month but has yet to parlay it into major momentum, and 2010 nominee Joe Miller is hugely unpopular even in his own party. It would probably take a big misstep for Sullivan to lose; he's got both national tea party and establishment support, making any kind of substantive anti-Sullivan push difficult to envision.


Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) photographed near University Lake in Anchorage, Alaska, in January 2013. Begich faces the winner of the GOP primary on Aug. 19. (Marc Lester for The Washington Post)

4. Michigan 3rd District Republican primary (Aug. 5): Establishment and business-oriented Republicans would like to make an example of Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), the libertarian-minded Ron Paul ally who often doesn't fall in line with the rest of his party. Some of the most powerful GOP-aligned groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, have lined up behind businessman Brian Ellis, hoping he can pull off a reverse-tea  party upset. A poll last month showed this race is closer than most primaries, but Amash still led 55 percent to 35 percent. An upset here would certainly be big news.

3. Hawaii Democratic Senate primary (Aug. 9): This is the most contentious and personal Democratic primary of 2014. A year and a half after Abercrombie appointed Brian Schatz to the Senate over the deathbed wishes of longtime Sen. Daniel Inouye, the deeply personal element of this contest remains the dominant theme. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is running as the natural successor to Inouye, her mentor. Schatz is arguing he has used his year and a half in the Senate to build relationships with party leaders and get results for Hawaii. The question of seniority, raised by Abercrombie, also looms large. Schatz is 41, while Hanabusa is 63. For his part, Schatz says age should not be an issue. Schatz has been the better fundraiser and also has the support of President Obama -- huge in the state where the president grew up -- and remains very popular. In their first statewide television debate this week, Hanabusa was quite critical of Schatz. Underdogs tend to take more aggressive postures in debates.

2. Georgia Republican Senate primary runoff (July 22): There's a reason this race has stayed below the radar nationally: There is no tea party vs. establishment dynamic at work. Senate Republicans would be probably be pleased with either Rep. Jack Kingston or businessman David Perdue running against Democrat Michelle Nunn. Pre-runoff campaign finance reports showed Kingston started July with more money in his campaign account -- about $1.2 million -- than Perdue, who had abut $783,000. But Perdue has dipped into his own pockets before and could do so again down the stretch. Limited polling shows a close race, suggesting the final week is going to get awfully competitive.

1. Louisiana open Senate primary (Nov. 4): We're still about four months from this primary day, and the biggest question here seems to be whether an alternative to Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) gets any traction. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) is likely to finish first in the open, nonpartisan primary, but Republicans will split up the vote from there. And the more time Cassidy or another Republican nominee spends trying to make the runoff (rather than focusing on Landrieu), that could help the incumbent. Retired Col. Rob Maness has tea party support, including from Sarah Palin, but he's still far behind Cassidy. State Rep. Paul Hollis also has some money to throw around.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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