The next state primaries

Welcome to the Friday, May 6, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. The next state primaries
  2. Four candidates competing in Pennsylvania’s Democratic U.S. Senate primary
  3. #FridayTrivia: How many fundraising leaders won their state legislative primaries in Indiana?

The next state primaries

Nebraska and West Virginia have statewide primaries for federal and state offices coming up on May 10. Today, let’s take a closer look at Nebraska, the races on the ballot and how their primaries work.

Nebraska voters will see a mix of partisan and nonpartisan primaries on their ballots. 

  • Partisan primaries are those where candidates from the same party run against each other, with the winning candidate receiving that party’s nomination for the general election. 
  • In nonpartisan primaries, sometimes called top-two primaries, every candidate runs on the same ballot without party labels and the top-two vote-getters advance to the general election.

At the federal level, voters will decide partisan primaries for the state’s three congressional districts. Every district will feature both a Democratic and Republican primary for the first time since at least 2014. 

Incumbents are seeking re-election in two districts. In the 1st District, former U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R) filed for re-election but resigned from Congress on March 31 after being found guilty in a federal campaign finance investigation. Fortenberry’s resignation came after the deadline to withdraw from the primary, meaning his name will still appear on the primary ballot. Voters will elect Fortenberry’s replacement in a separate special election on June 28.

Voters will also decide primaries for state executive offices. The races for governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, and two public service commission spots will be determined using partisan primaries. The four spots on the state’s board of education and two spots on the board of regents are determined using nonpartisan primaries.

Half of the Nebraska State Senate is also up for election. Nebraska is the only state with a unicameral legislature, meaning it has only one chamber rather than the upper and lower chambers present in other states. 

The Nebraska Senate is also officially nonpartisan, meaning legislators are not identified by party labels, but legislators often identify and caucus with a particular party. At Ballotpedia, we identify party labels using candidate statements and publicly-available voter registration information, among other sources. Republicans currently hold a 31-17 majority.

Nebraska’s Senate will see several new faces no matter what next year. There are 13 open districts where no incumbent is running for re-election, representing 54% of the districts holding elections this year. Eleven of those 13 outgoing incumbents were term-limited. An open district is guaranteed to be won by a newcomer.

This year, 14 Senate districts are holding nonpartisan primaries, 58% of those possible, the largest number since 2014. Of that total, six primaries will feature incumbents, meaning over half of the incumbents running for re-election will face primary challengers for the first time since 2014.

In Nebraska, candidates can advance from a primary with a plurality, rather than a majority, of the vote. The state does not hold runoff elections. This means the candidate or candidates with the most votes—even if less than 50% of the total votes cast—advances.

For more information, click here to view the battleground primaries we will be following in Nebraska next week.

Keep reading 

Four candidates competing in Pennsylvania’s Democratic U.S. Senate primary

Switching gears, let’s take a look at another one of the battleground primaries we are following this cycle: the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania coming up on May 17. The Republican contest in this race is also a battleground primary. Read more about that here.

This is one of seven open seats in the U.S. Senate up for election this year with incumbent U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R), first elected in 2010, announcing his retirement last year. It is also one of two Senate seats held by a Republican in a state that President Joe Biden (D) carried in 2020.

Four candidates are running in the Democratic primary: Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, Jenkintown City Councilwoman Alexandria Khalil, and U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb. Fetterman and Lamb have received the most campaign contributions and media attention.

Fetterman was mayor of Braddock, Penn., from 2005 until he was elected lieutenant governor in 2018. Fetterman’s top campaign priorities include adopting a single-payer healthcare system, legalizing marijuana, and supporting LGBTQIA+ rights.

Fetterman described himself as “a different kind of Democrat,” saying he “doesn’t look like a typical politician, and more importantly, he doesn’t act like one.”

Lamb worked as an assistant U.S. attorney before he was first elected to the U.S. House in a March 2018 special election. On his campaign website, Lamb listed his top priorities as “protecting and expanding Medicare and Social Security, raising the minimum wage to $15, cutting prescription drug prices, creating and protecting jobs and strengthening unions.”

Lamb described himself as practical, saying, “I’m someone that has worked with Republicans when it’s necessary … and work with extremely progressive Democrats.”

According to campaign finance reports through March 31, Fetterman led in fundraising with $15.1 million raised and $10.9 million spent. Lamb raised $5.7 million and spent $4.4 million.

The winner of this primary will face one of the seven candidates running in the Republican primary.

Keep reading 

#FridayTrivia: How many fundraising leaders won their state legislative primaries in Indiana?

Earlier this week, we brought you a look at the top five with the most money raised in both chambers of Indiana’s legislature. That list included eight Republican primaries and two Democratic races. Here’s that list one more time:

From the list above, how many fundraising leaders won their state legislative primaries in Indiana?

  1. 6
  2. 10
  3. 1
  4. 4