August 9 Primary: Key House Races
The Midterm Primary Season resumes Tuesday with elections in four states: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Connecticut and Vermont.
In addition to a high-profile US Senate campaign in Wisconsin and gubernatorial elections in all four states, there is a string of US House primary elections to watch as Democrats struggle to defend their four-seat majority and Republicans seek to widen the playing field target majority.
Tuesday’s election — minus a special election in Minnesota’s 1st Circuit — will be held under new congressional lines introduced following the post-census redistribution. None of the four states that voted Tuesday saw any changes in their number of seats in the House of Representatives.
Courts drew the maps in Connecticut, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Vermont retained its lone seat at large.
Here’s a look at the top house primaries we’ll see on Tuesday:
Despite Wisconsin’s swing-state status, the partisan makeup of the state’s U.S. House delegation has remained inelastic over the past decade, with five Republicans and three Democrats. But the resignation of longtime Democratic Rep. Ron Kind of the 3rd District has boosted GOP hopes of turning over a seat.
Four Democrats are running to succeed Kind in the largely rural county, which includes parts of western and central Wisconsin: State Senator Brad Pfaff, retired CIA officer and Army veteran Deb McGrath, small business owner Rebecca Cooke, and La Crosse City Councilman Mark Neumann. Retired Navy SEAL Derrick Van Orden, who narrowly lost to Kind in 2020, is unchallenged in the GOP primary for a seat that former President Donald Trump would have won by 5 points in 2020.
A Last year’s daily beast report said Van Orden was in the US Capitol Restricted Area on January 6, 2021; the candidate has denied the allegation saying on Facebook last year that he “didn’t set foot on the Capitol grounds, let alone the Capitol building, because I’m not breaking the law.”
Van Orden, who is on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Young Guns program for promising recruits, has dominated his Democratic opponents in fundraising. As Democrats lose ground in rural America, political analysts rate the 3rd District among the seats likely to flip this yearespecially without a verified incumbent like Kind on the ballot.
Minnesota’s 1st District is holding a special election for the remainder of the term of former GOP Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who died in February. Republican nominee Brad Finstad, a former US Department of Agriculture official in the Trump administration, is the favorite against Democrat Jeff Ettinger, the former CEO of Hormel Foods, in a seat Trump carries forward by 10 points in 2020.
Both Finstad and Ettinger will be competing for the full two-year term for the southern Minnesota seat in the regular primary on Tuesday. Finstad meets GOP state MP Jeremy Munson, whom he narrowly defeated in May’s special election. Munson had previously stopped running for the regular election but did so resumed activity in recent weeks.
The special election will take place under the existing county lines, while the regular primaries will be held under the new lines. The newly drawn district remains Republican-leaning – Trump would have led it by about 9 points.
Two Democratic congressmen in deep blue seats in Twin Cities face big challenges. In the Minneapolis-anchored 5th District, Rep. Ilhan Omar, a member of the House Progressives “Squad,” is being challenged by former Minneapolis Councilman Don Samuels, among others. In the 4th Ward, which includes St Paul, 11-year-old MP Betty McCollum’s main opponent is community organizer Amane Badhasso, a refugee from Ethiopia Generation change required.
Republicans are targeting the 2nd and 3rd districts — both suburban seats in the Twin Cities area that Democrats flipped during the Trump era. The major party candidates are running unopposed in the primaries in both districts. In November, Democratic Rep. Angie Craig faces a rematch with retired Marine Tyler Kistner in the redrawn 2nd Circuit that President Joe Biden would have won by 7 points. Kistner is on the NRCC’s Young Guns program, while Craig is on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s frontline program for imperiled incumbents. Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips appears safer in the 3rd Circuit, where he faces Navy veteran Tom Weiler in a seat Biden would have won by 21 points.
Vermont is poised to make history this November by sending a woman to Congress for the first time — it’s currently the only state not to have done so.
Rep. Peter Welch, who is running to succeed retiring Sen. Patrick Leahy, a fellow Democrat, is up for a seat in the state’s Free House of Representatives. The leading contenders for the Democratic nomination are Senator Becca Balint and Lt. gov. Molly Gray. Balint is supported by prominent progressives, including the state’s junior senator, the independent Bernie Sanders, and Massachusetts senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey. Gray has Leahy’s backing in the race. The winner would be heavily favored in November as Biden has led the state by 35 points in 2020.
While Nutmeg State hasn’t elected a Republican to Congress since 2006, the GOP is seeking two seats in the US House of Representatives this fall — the 2nd Circuit in eastern Connecticut and the 5th Circuit in western Connecticut.
The general election matchups are in place as Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney meets GOP Rep. Mike France, a Navy veteran, in the 2nd Circuit. On the 5th, Democratic Rep. Jahana Hayes will meet former Republican Senator George Logan. Courtney and Hayes participate in the DCCC’s Frontline Program for Vulnerable Office Holders. Biden would have led both the 2nd and 5th districts by about 11 points.