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The top 10 primary races still to come in 2014

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and challenger, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D). (Cindy Ellen Russell/The Star-Advertiser via AP)

Primary season is back next week!

After a breather this Tuesday -- we live and breathe politics but it was nice to have a night off -- the campaign kicks back into full gear with a full slate of congressional and gubernatorial races in the next seven days.

On Tuesday, voters head to the polls in Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington. On Thursday, Tennessee votes. On Saturday, Hawaii will vote.

There is so much activity that we decided to pare it down to the top 10 races you should watch. What did we miss? The comments section awaits your input!

10. Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) vs. the field: There is only one Washington congressional district that stands any chance of changing party control, according to the Cook Political Report's ratings, and it's DelBene's. The Democrat is a substantial favorite to hold her seat, but Republicans are hopeful retired Microsoft engineer Pedro Celis might spring an upset in November. Celis must first get through to the next round in the all-party primary, which includes perennial candidate "Mike the Mover" (seriously, that's his name) and four others. (Aug. 5)

9. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) vs. Alan LaPolice: LaPolice, a former local schools superintendent, is challenging Huelskamp somewhat from the middle. Indeed, there really isn’t any getting to Huelskamp’s right. A poll this week showed LaPolice trailing Huelskamp 50-29 – a wide margin with just a few days left, but more competitive than the vast majority of primaries. And a conservative super PAC has spent nearly a quarter million against Huelskamp in the stretch run. Don’t expect the upset, but it’s real enough to keep an eye on. (Aug. 5)

8. Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) vs. state Sen. Jim Tracy: It's amazing that DesJarlais actually has a chance at keeping his job. This is the doctor who admitted to sexual relationships with multiple patients and co-workers and urged his now-ex-wife to get abortions, even as he has campaigned as a social conservative. A recent poll showed him leading. The lesson here may be that time heals political wounds better than anything else -- DesJarlais's problems surfaced way back in the fall of 2012. (Aug. 7)

7. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.) vs. businessman David Trott: Bentivolio is in a lot of trouble. A recent EPIC-MRA poll showed him down 22 points to Trott, who has been outraising and outspending the congressman. And it's never a good sign when your campaign manager departs three months before the election, as Bentivolio's did. A win for Trott would be a win for the GOP establishment, which has butted heads with Bentivolio since his unlikely 2012 rise. (Aug. 5)


6. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) vs. former congressman Todd Tiahrt: One of three Kansas races on our list, this contest features another conservative incumbent against somebody running nominally to his left. Tiahrt, after losing the 2010 GOP Senate primary to now-Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), is attempting to beat the man who took his seat in the House. A recent SurveyUSA poll put Pompeo’s margin at just seven points, so this is a real race. (Aug. 5)

5. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) vs. businessman Brian Ellis: This race in Michigan is like Bizarro world Republican politics. It's the incumbent -- Amash — who is the tea party firebrand — while the challenger, Ellis, has the backing of much of the establishment. Amash has a wide lead in most polling, but Ellis will be well-financed in the final days. (Aug. 5)

4. Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) vs. state Sen. David Ige: It’s very rare that an incumbent governor loses a primary, but it appears to be at least a 50-50 proposition in the Aloha State. The most recent poll showed Ige up by double digits (11 points), thanks in large part to Abercrombie’s long-standing unpopularity. But polling in Hawaii is notoriously difficult, so keep an open mind. (Aug. 9)

3. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) vs. physician Milton Wolf: Earlier this year —when the New York Times reported that Roberts had only the loosest residency ties to Kansas — it looked like Wolf, a distant cousin of President Obama, had a good shot at ousting the incumbent.  Then came the news that Wolf, a radiologist, had posted a series of x-rays of gunshot victims to a Facebook group and joked about the images. Goodbye momentum! There is some concern from Roberts's camp that Wolf is picking up steam as the primary approaches, however. (Aug. 5)

2. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) vs. state Rep. Joe Carr: Carr has been running hard to Alexander's right on immigration, an issue that is once again dividing the GOP. He has Sarah Palin and Laura Ingraham in his corner. But it feels like too little, too late. Alexander has run a smart campaign, preparing very early on in the election cycle. Plus, national tea party groups never really rallied to Carr's side like they did with other insurgents. Rep. Eric Cantor's stunning loss reminded us that no incumbent is 100 percent safe. But Alexander has put himself in a solid position to win. (Aug. 5)

1. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) vs. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa: This race has been high on this list for a long time – mostly because of the drama. Abercrombie appointed Schatz to the seat over the wishes of the late senator Daniel Inouye (D), who wanted Hanabusa to succeed him. But apart from that subplot, it’s perhaps the last, best shot for anyone to knock off a Senate incumbent this primary season. The same pollster from No. 4 showed Schatz up by 10 but, again ... it's Hawaii. (Aug. 9)

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.



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