NEWS & Insights

Today’s Primaries

We see three sets of nomination elections scheduled for today, with two US House incumbents facing serious challenges.

So far, House members facing credible primary opponents in other states have won all 11 campaigns, but the contest particularly in Virginia could result in the nation’s first incumbent defeat at the hands of a challenger. In March, Rep. Jerry Carl (R-AL) lost his primary, but that was against fellow Rep. Barry Moore (R-AL) who won the competitive contest when the two were thrown together in a newly configured House district through a second round of court-ordered redistricting.

While Virginia Republicans will be choosing a US Senate nominee to battle incumbent Tim Kaine (D) in November, most of tonight’s electoral attention will be turned to the state’s 5th Congressional District. There, two-term Rep. Bob Good (R-Lynchburg), for the first time, faces a primary electorate. In his other two elections, Good was nominated through a district convention that his supporters controlled. Such is not the case today.

Rep. Good’s opponent is state Sen. John McGuire (R-Manakin Sabot), who has support from both former President Donald Trump and ex-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Rep. Good was one of the leaders of the effort to oust McCarthy, and the deposed House leader is involved with the outside effort to elect McGuire, thus attempting to even the political score with Good.

The latest published poll of this race, from WPA Intelligence (6/2-4; 300 VA-5 likely Republican primary voters; live interview), found McGuire holding a 41-31% advantage. Though the national trends have unanimously favored incumbents, the fact that Good has only been nominated by a fraction of the number of people who will vote today suggests that his incumbency factor may be lessened. Therefore, Sen. McGuire may well defeat him when the votes are counted tonight.

Another primary race that has commanded national attention lies in southern Oklahoma where veteran Rep. Tom Cole (R-Moore/Norman) faces a self-funded Republican opponent in businessman Paul Bondar. The latter man has spent almost $5 million of his own money through the May 29th pre-primary financial disclosure period to defeat Rep. Cole, but the incumbent, now chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, still must be favored to overcome the onslaught.

Countering the attacks, Rep. Cole has spent over $3 million, and another $3.7 million in outside expenditures has come into the district to defend the Congressman and attack his opponent.

This primary campaign is not over issues. Mr. Bondar has been attacking Rep. Cole as a Congressman who has lost touch with the district, and has become captive of the Washington, DC “swamp.” The Cole attacks hit Bondar as a person who has just moved to Oklahoma from Texas, citing evidence that his opponent voted in Lone Star State elections even as late as March of this year. Despite the heat of this campaign, Rep. Cole is still favored to win tonight.

Returning to Virginia, the other races worth watching are in open Districts 7 and 10.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Glen Allen) is eschewing re-election to a fourth term from her northern Virginia 7th CD in order to prepare for an open Governor’s race next year. Crowded fields have formed in both parties. Retired Army Lt. Colonel Eugene Vindman, who briefly became a national figure when defying then-President Trump over issues involving his native Ukraine, is favored to win the Democratic nomination over several state and local current and former Democratic officials.

For Republicans, Iraq War veteran Derrick Anderson looks to top a crowded field. The general election will be competitive in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+2.

In open District 10, three-term Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Leesburg) is retiring due to a serious health condition. Vying to replace her are twelve Democrats, featuring a state Senator and four sitting state Delegates in addition to former state House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn. State Delegate Dan Helmer (D-Clifton) appears to be the favorite for the party nomination and the seat in November.

The Georgia runoffs are also today, and the race attracting the most attention in the Republican contest to replace retiring Rep. Drew Ferguson (D-The Rock/Carrollton). It appears that former Trump White House aide Brian Jack is poised to defeat state Sen. Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton). Mr. Jack attracted 47% of the vote in the original May primary and appears to be headed for victory tonight. In a district the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+38, tonight’s election will decide who represents the western Georgia district in the next Congress.

The state’s other runoff is also on the Republican side in District 2 where businessman Wayne Johnson is favored to defeat political activist Chuck Hand. In the primary election, Johnson topped Hand, 45-32%, just five points short of winning the nomination outright. Tonight’s victor will then advance into the general election to face veteran Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Albany) in a district that favors the Democrats.

We offer this political insights report for your information and not as a predictor or representative of opinions of HBS or its employees.