*And one today
Ok, Ok, don’t quibble. The first of a series of August primaries is July 31, but that is close enough for a leap year.
Late primaries are a pain for the party holding them. The only thing worse are September primaries, and there are a few of those.
Late primaries mean that if the primary gets nasty, as it frequently does, the winning candidate has only a couple of months to unite his or her party, rebuild the campaign treasury and focus on the general election opponent.
Another problem: many potential voters are on vacation in August, meaning it is harder to contact them before the vote and to get them to the ballot boxes.
Let’s take a look at the upcoming primaries.
Texas – July 31 – Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) retiring
Republicans Ted Cruz, former state Solicitor General, and David Dewhurst, Lieutenant Governor, are in a brawl for the Republican nomination. The winner will become the next Senator from Texas; Democrats in the state still have a ways to go to become competitive. The fight is between Tea Party favorite Cruz and establishment favorite Dewhurst. Cruz has been supported by lots of out-of-state Tea Party heroes such as Sarah Palin and Jim DeMint and Dewhurst has been spending heavily from his own checkbook. The contest is close. While there are certainly stylistic differences between the candidates, there are very few issue differences. Either will be a Texas conservative vote in the Senate.
Michigan – August 7 – Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D)
Ex-Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R) is running against charter school founder Clark Durant (R) for the Republican nomination to face Senator Stabenow. Hoekstra is the strong primary favorite, although an underdog to Stabenow. Republicans hope to make Michigan a battleground state in both the presidential and senate election.
Missouri – August 7 – Sen. Claire McCaskill (R)
Republicans have a vigorous and nasty three-way battle for the nomination: Sarah Steelman (R), the former state treasurer, is running against U.S. Representative Todd Akin (R) and businessman John Brunner (R) for the Republican nomination. Democrats appear to be hoping that Akin wins the primary, and are running ads attacking Steelman and Brunner. Brunner is a self-funder, having funneled $7 million into his campaign treasury. Whoever wins the nomination will be favored over Senator McCaskill. A July 30 poll by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch showed the incumbent behind all three challengers, by five to eleven points. But McCaskill is a strong campaigner.
Hawaii – August 11 – Sen. Daniel Akaka (D) (retiring)
Hawaii is one of the few states where Democrats are battling it out. U.S. Representative Mazie Hirono (D) is competing against former Rep. Ed Case (D) for the right to face former Governor Linda Lingle (R). While Case has released polls showing he is ahead in the primary, Hirono is the favorite for both the primary and the general election.
Connecticut – August 14 – Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I) (retiring)
Both parties have primaries, but only one is serious. Wealthy businesswoman and former Senate nominee Linda McMahon is the overwhelming favorite to capture the Republican nomination, although she faces the underfunded former Rep. Chris Shays (R). McMahon, who spent $50 million in a losing bid two years ago, is again spending freely while Shays has little money to counter. On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy (D) faces former Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz (D). The battle is more intense on the Democratic side, but Murphy is the favorite for both the nomination (he won 76% of the vote at a May 12 nominating convention) and the general election. But McMahon’s money could make it close.
Florida – August 14 – Sen. Bill Nelson (D)
Nelson has been home free without any primary challenger while Republicans have been battling it out. As Nelson is the last Democratic statewide office holder, Republicans are gunning for him. Retired Colonel and ex-candidate for Governor Mike McCalister (R), Rep. Connie Mack (R) and ex-Rep. Dave Weldon (R) are competing for the GOP nomination. Mack is the favored candidate, but has under severe attack by his opponents. Nelson will be favored in the general election, but not by a large margin.
Wisconsin – August 14 – Sen. Herb Kohl (D) (retiring)
U.S. Representative Tammy Baldwin (D) has avoided any primary challenge, while four Republicans are fighting it out. Former four term governor Tommy Thompson (R) is narrowly favored, but only because he has three opponents: former Rep. Mark Neumann (R), State Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R) and hedge fund manager Eric Hovde (R). Democrats appear to hope to face Neumann, but any of the candidates will be even money against Baldwin, who has managed to amass money in her campaign treasury and avoided the bruising on the Republican side.
Arizona – August 28 – Sen. Jon Kyl (R) (retiring)
Republicans thought the Arizona Senate contest to replace Sen. Jon Kyl (R) would be a cakewalk. Republican Congressman Jeff Flake, the establishment favorite of the GOP, would waltz in as the newest Senator from the state. The contest has proved anything but a coronation. Two Republican candidates, U.S. Representative Flake and wealthy businessman Wil Cardon (R) are spending millions of dollars attacking each other. Dr. Richard Carmona, the Democratic nominee, is running even in the polls when matched against either of the two Republican candidates. Cardon has pumped $5 million of his own funds into his campaign treasury and Flake, whose negatives rose amidst the flurry of attacks, has been forced to spend $2 million on television ads for his primary that he had hoped to save for the general election.