TagDemocratic primaries

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 28 (July 29, 2020)

This week: Ilhan Omar challenger raises $3.2 million in second quarter, Working Families Party spends in support of Rashida Tlaib, and Bernie Sanders endorses in Vermont gubernatorial primary

On the news

Where do Democratic and progressive pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

On Medicare for All in the Democratic Party platform

“The platform does nod to ‘Medicare for All,’ the policy backed by Sanders, saying: ‘We are proud our party welcomes advocates who want to build on and strengthen the Affordable Care Act and those who support a Medicare for All approach.’

“Platform committee co-chair Denis McDonough, who served as former President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, called it the ‘boldest Democratic platform in American history.’

“Still, anticipating virtual floor fights and frustration from progressive activists who want the party to set an even more aggressive policy course, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said at the top of the committee meeting that ‘we should never confuse unity with unanimity, nor should we confuse debate with division.’”

Denis McDonough, Tom Perez, quoted by Scott Detrow, NPR, July 27, 2020

“History teaches a clear lesson: The fact that our nation is the only advanced industrial country without universal healthcare cannot be blamed on Republican obstruction alone. It was also caused by Democratic leaders who’ve spent decades catering to corporate interests (while collecting their campaign donations)—and refusing to fight for universal coverage. 

“This history of Democratic obstruction and vacillation is why hundreds of elected delegates to next month’s Democratic convention have put their foot down. They’ve signed a petition pledging to vote down the party platform if it ‘does not include a plank supporting universal, single-payer Medicare for All.’ The petition’s initiator is Judith Whitmer, chair of the convention’s Nevada delegation. She told Politico: ‘This pandemic has shown us that our private health insurance system does not work for the American people. Millions of people have lost their jobs and their healthcare at the same time.’

“By demanding of the party leadership what Harry Truman called for 72 years ago, Whitmer and other Democratic activists are indeed ‘giving ’em hell.’” 

Jeff Cohen, Common Dreams, July 28, 2020

U.S. Congress

MN-05: Melton-Meaux raises $3.2 million in second quarter

Antone Melton-Meaux raised $3.2 million to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s $480,000 in the second quarter of 2020. They and three others are running in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District primary on Aug. 11.

As of June 30, Omar raised $3.9 million to Melton-Meaux’s $3.7 million. 

The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Torey Van Oot wrote, “Much of the money on both sides comes from out of the state, reflecting Omar’s national profile as one of the first Muslim women in Congress and an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump.”

Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party Chairman Ken Martin and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison—who previously represented the 5th District—held a press conference July 20 in which Martin said contributions to Melton-Meaux’s campaign were efforts to “silence a progressive champion rooted in xenophobia.” Martin said the average ActBlue contribution Melton-Meaux received in May was $650 compared to Omar’s average of $18. Melton-Meaux said he received five times the amount of contributions Omar did from within the 5th District. Omar said her campaign received more individual contributions from within the state than Melton-Meaux’s.

Omar is among four House members often referred to as the squad, along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) recently endorsed Omar. Pelosi said in September 2019 that she has a policy of only endorsing incumbents. 

Working Families Party spends in support of Tlaib in MI-13

The Working Families Party and Detroit Action are spending $100,000 in support of Rep. Rashida Tlaib in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District primary. Tlaib faces Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones.

Politico’s Holly Otterbein reported that the independent expenditure campaign “will be focused on young Black and Latino voters, and is expected to highlight [Tlaib’s] record on racial justice, including her promotion of the BREATHE Act, which seeks to eliminate federal programs ‘used to finance and expand’ law enforcement.”

The Detroit News’ Melissa Nann Burke and Christine Ferretti wrote:

Tlaib, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, made history as one of the two first Muslim women elected to Congress. But Jones’ surrogates are pitching their candidate, who is African American, as a better choice to lead the majority-Black district amid a national movement for racial justice. Blacks comprise nearly 54% of the district’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The primary is a rematch. Tlaib and Jones ran against one another in both the regular and special election primaries in 2018. Jones defeated Tlaib in the special primary election 37.7% to 35.9%, while Tlaib defeated Jones in the regular primary 31.2% to 30.2%. Jones completed the term to which John Conyers Jr. had been elected in 2016. Tlaib assumed office in January 2019.

The Michigan AFL-CIO recently endorsed Tlaib. In 2018, the group endorsed Jones. Jones’ 2020 endorsers include several local elected officials and Black pastors.

The primary is Aug. 4.

AG commissioner endorses Vazquez in FL-18

Nikki Fried, Florida’s agriculture commissioner and the only Democrat to win statewide office in 2018, endorsed Oz Vazquez in Florida’s 18th Congressional District primary.

Fried said in her endorsement, “Florida’s 18th Congressional District deserves a Congressperson who will fight to protect Social Security and Medicare, will be a champion for clean water, and will work to get things done for the Treasure Coast and Palm Beaches.”

Vasquez is a lawyer and former Americorps volunteer. He faces Pam Keith, a lawyer and Navy veteran.

The Florida AFL-CIO endorsed Vasquez in June. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) endorsed Keith.

Both Keith and Vazquez completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. The survey questions are designed to elicit insightful and thoughtful responses from candidates on what they care about, what they stand for, and what they hope to achieve. Read Keith’s responses here and Vazquez’s responses here.

Incumbent Rep. Brian Mast (R), first elected in 2016, is seeking re-election and faces a primary challenger. Three election forecasters rate the general election Safe or Solid Republican. The primary election is Aug. 18.

State executives

Candidates prepare runs for Virginia lieutenant governor, attorney general

Candidate fields have begun to emerge for two top-level executive offices in Virginia ahead of next year’s primaries. This month, five Democrats, including three members of the legislative class of 2017, announced their intention to run for executive office.

Although there are no term limits on the offices of attorney general or lieutenant governor, Virginia is the only state where governors are prohibited from serving back-to-back terms. Both Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) and Attorney General Mark Herring (D) have suggested they will run to succeed Gov. Ralph Northam (D).

Delegate Jay Jones (D), who was elected to the Norfolk-area district his father represented during the 1990s, became the first member of either major party to declare his intention to run for state attorney general on July 13. Jones, who is Black, would be Virginia’s first nonwhite attorney general. He said in his campaign kickoff video that challenging efforts to limit the Affordable Care Act would be among his priorities.

On July 14, Del. Hala Ayala (D), who defeated incumbent Rich Anderson (R) to win a district representing Prince William County, said she would run for lieutenant governor in 2021, becoming the first candidate to officially enter the race. She said she was running to ensure Virginia was better-prepared for future public health emergencies, including expanding Medicaid coverage.

State Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D), who defeated incumbent Scott Lingamfelter (R) in another Prince William County contest, said she was exploring a run for lieutenant governor. 

On July 22, Norfolk city Councillor Andria McClellan (D) announced she was also exploring a run for lieutenant governor. McClellan was first elected to the city council in 2016, defeating incumbent Barclay Winn. Ayala, Guzman, or McClellan would each be the first woman elected to the office.

Sean Perryman said on July 27 that he was exploring a run. Perryman, a former counsel to the House Oversight Committee under Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), is the president of the Fairfax branch of the NAACP, Virginia’s largest.

Other Democrats who have indicated they are considering a run for lieutenant governor include former Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Paul Goldman and Mike Pudhorodsky.

Bernie Sanders endorses David Zuckerman for governor of Vermont

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed Vermont Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman’s (D) run for governor Monday. The announcement came as Zuckerman and former state Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe (D) aired their first television ads ahead of the Aug. 11 primary.

Holcombe’s ad, titled “Believe”, first aired July 16. The ad introduces Holcombe as a former educator and says she believes Vermont can emerge from the coronavirus pandemic in a stronger position than when the pandemic started if it takes the opportunity to expand healthcare and education and attract high-paying jobs.

Zuckerman’s ad, titled “Building our Future”, displays clips of Zuckerman working on his farm. The ad says that while daily life has been disrupted by the pandemic, farm work needs to continue.

A third candidate, attorney Pat Winburn, began running television ads when he entered the race in March. Winburn, who has not previously held elected office, says he is running to bring a new perspective to state government.


The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 41 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Preliminary New York legislative results show progressive challengers defeated five incumbents

New York’s primaries occurred on June 23, but due to the coronavirus, results have been delayed as absentee ballots continue to be counted. Within the past week, additional votes counted show at least five progressive challengers defeating incumbent state Assembly members.

The New York Times’ Jesse McKinley and Luis Ferre-Sadurni wrote, “A slew of progressive challengers upset entrenched incumbents in the New York Legislature … cementing their movement’s influence in Albany and making it likely that the state government will become one of the most liberal in the nation.”

The NYC Democratic Socialists of America, for example, endorsed one incumbent, Sen. Julia Salazar (D-18), and four others—Jabari Brisport (D), Phara Souffrant Forrest (D), Zohran Mamdani (D), and Marcela Mitaynes (D)—in the primaries. Of those five, Salazar, Forrest, Mamdani, and Mitaynes won their primaries. Brisport’s primary for the open Senate District 25 seat remains uncalled, but he has claimed victory.

Below is a list of races where challengers defeated incumbents. Vote totals have not been finalized, but in each instance the incumbents have either conceded or the challenger’s victory has been widely reported:

  • AD-34: Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, an immigrant and healthcare activist, defeated Assm. Michael DenDekker, who first assumed office in 2009.
  • AD-36: Mamdani defeated Assm. Aravella Simotas. Simotas was first elected in 2010. She ran unopposed that year. Before Mamdani’s 2020 primary challenge, her only other contested election, general or primary, happened in 2012.
  • AD-50: Emily Gallagher defeated Assm. Joseph Lentol. Lentol was first elected in 1972. The NYC DSA did not endorse Gallagher, but she says she is a democratic socialist.
  • AD-51: Mitaynes defeated Assm. Felix Ortiz. Ortiz was first elected in 1994 and served as Assistant Speaker of the Assembly.
  • AD-57: Souffrant Forrest defeated Assm. Walter Mosley, who was first elected in 2012. Mosley will appear on the general election ballot on the Working Families Party ticket.

12 primaries featuring Democratic incumbents in the state Assembly remain uncalled. In the Senate, one such race remains uncalled.

Candidates participate in primary forum for Hawaii’s House District 20

On July 20, the four candidates running in the Democratic primary for Hawaii’s House District 20 participated in a virtual forum hosted by the Oahu County Democratic Party. 

This is the first election since 1976 when Rep. Calvin Say (D-21) will not appear on the ballot. The longtime incumbent and former House Speaker announced in May he would run instead for Honolulu City Council in 2020.

House District 20 encompasses the Honolulu neighborhoods of St. Louis Heights, Palolo, Maunalani Heights, Wilhelmina Rise, and Kaimuki.

The candidates are Kaimuki Neighborhood Board member Becky Gardner (D), state Department of Labor program specialist Jay Ishibashi (D), St. Louis Heights Neighborhood Board member Jackson Sayama (D), and attorney Derek Turbin (D).

The candidates were asked to speak about the intersection of economic and public health amid the coronavirus outbreak. All four candidates said public health should be the top priority while acknowledging the influence tourism has on the local economy. Ishibashi and Turbin suggested Hawaii begin marketing to tourists in countries with less severe coronavirus outbreaks. 

Sayama, Turbin, and Gardner also said they would prioritize creating jobs in industries distinct from tourism. Sayama mentioned growing the state’s renewable energy and cybersecurity sectors. Turbin said he would direct federal funds towards the local agriculture industry and develop a remote-worker economy. Gardner supported the Green New Deal as a means to recover from the economic downturn. 

The winner of the primary will face Julia Allen (R) in the general election.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch endorses Sherod in six-way primary for Missouri’s open Senate District 5 seat

On July 25, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch endorsed former deputy State Auditor Michelle Sherod (D) in the six-person Democratic primary for the open seat in Missouri’s Senate District 5. The paper said: “Sherod, 58, has the maturity and broad-based experience to advance [an urban-centric] agenda without brow-beating or lecturing conservatives about causes and concerns they don’t necessarily prioritize.” 

The editorial board also mentioned state Rep. Steven Roberts (D-77), another candidate in the primary, saying, “it’s important for voters to know that they have a strong alternative candidate in [Roberts], 32, … a former prosecutor,” adding, “Although Roberts has more legislative experience, Sherod clearly has more life experience.” Roberts was first elected to represent House District 77 in 2016.

Of the six candidates running, three have raised more than $10,000 according to pre-primary campaign finance reports. Sherod, Roberts, and St. Louis Alderwoman Megan Green (D) raised $138,000, $273,000, and $101,000, respectively. Each candidate reported at least $20,000 cash on hand. 

Incumbent Sen. Jamilah Nasheed (D) is not running for re-election. She was first elected to represent District 5 in 2012.

Former St. Louis Public Schools Board member Bill Haas (D), non-profit consultant McFarlane Duncan (D), and property manager Jeremiah Church (D) are also running in the primary. The winner of the Aug. 4 primary will face Michael J. Hebron Sr. (R).

Power players

“In 2019-2020, we will work to elect Democratic senators who are committed to an economy that provides opportunity and security for America’s working families and who stand up to protect the rights of all Americans.” – Senate Majority PAC website

Founded in 2010 by supporters of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate Majority PAC is a super PAC with the goal of supporting Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate. As of June 30, the PAC has raised $148 million this cycle compared to $125 million for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Senate Democrats’ official campaign PAC.

During the 2018 campaign cycle, the Senate Majority PAC reported more than $111.6 million in satellite spending, spending over $10 million each to oppose four Republican Senate candidates: Josh Hawley in Missouri ($18.0 million), Rick Scott in Florida ($15.8 million), Dean Heller in Nevada ($14.4 million), and Mike Braun in Indiana ($14.2 million). Other than Heller, each of the four won their races.

So far this cycle, the Senate Majority PAC has reported spending more than $1 million in three races, having already spent $5.2 million to oppose John James in Michigan, $3.6 million to oppose Susan Collins in Maine, and $1.9 million to oppose Steve Daines in Montana.

Georgia Democrats select Williams as nominee to replace late Rep. Lewis in the 5th District

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) passed away on Friday, July 17, 2020, after winning the June 9 primary in his bid for re-election to Georgia’s 5th Congressional District. The Georgia Democratic Party selected party chairwoman and state Sen. Nikema Williams (D) to replace him on the general election ballot. She faces Angela Stanton King (R) in the November 3 election. The winner of the general election will be up for re-election in 2022.

Because Lewis died between the primary and general election, Georgia law gave the Democratic Party one business day to decide whether to replace him on the general election ballot. The state party accepted applications to replace Lewis on the ballot Saturday and Sunday and chose Lewis’ replacement on Monday, July 20.

A nominating committee chose five finalists from the 131 applications they received. The finalists were Williams, state Rep. Park Cannon, Atlanta City Council member Andre Dickens, Robert Franklin, and James Woodall. Williams received 37 of the 41 votes cast.

A special election is also anticipated to choose Lewis’ replacement for the remainder of his term. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has 10 days following a vacancy to call the special election. As of July 23, the race had not been scheduled. The winner of that election would serve until January 2021.

Williams was seeking re-election to Georgia State Senate District 39. She was unopposed in the general election. Because Williams dropped out of the race, a special primary may be called to select her replacement.

Additional reading:

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 27 (July 15, 2020)

This week: M.J. Hegar wins Senate nomination in Texas, Super PAC spends $900,000 to support Ed Markey in Massachusetts, and Vermont gubernatorial candidates differ on ethics policy

On the news

Where do Democratic and progressive pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

On ‘cancel culture’

“A specter is haunting Western democracies. No, it is not the surging pandemic, mass death or catastrophic unemployment. It is, if you believe Donald Trump and some of his critics, the end of free speech and the advent of ‘cancel culture.’ … 

“… free speech has never been more widely available than it is today. So much so that the cacophony of voices liberated by digital media too frequently drowns out well-informed and sensible opinion. Trump, who blurts out several hot takes every day, is himself an example of the verbal incontinence enabled by Twitter in recent years. … 

“… the picture that Trump and highly prominent writers draw of narrowed and darkened intellectual horizons seems wholly unrecognizable, even paranoid.

“Could it be that increasingly diverse voices and rich conversations are a threat to their free speech — more accurately, the prerogative of famous and powerful people to speak at length on all sorts of things without interruption or disagreement? … 

“No doubt this networked minority will continue to protect its privileges by invoking various dangers to free speech. But no one should mistake its fear of obsolescence and irrelevance for any kind of liberalism.”

Pankaj Mishra, Bloomberg Opinion, July 14, 2020


“In recent years, there has been a marked and disquieting increase in the willingness of a raft of actors left, center, and right, both in government and in civil society, to engage in a practice and attitude of censorship and to abandon due process, presumption of innocence, and other core civil liberties.

“There have been some attempts from different quarters at a pushback against this, but the most recent such effort at a course correction is an open letter decrying the phenomenon appearing in Harper’s magazine. …

“What is true is that to limit this discussion to the acts of the extremely online mob, to, say, British author Jon Ronson’s concerns about Twitter public shaming, or to the ill-defined term ‘cancel culture,’  entirely misses the far wider atmosphere of an aggressive and accelerating threat to civil liberties.

“It is understandable that a brief open letter would not offer a catalog of episodes, but this is nevertheless unfortunate, as it allows Robinson and others to maintain a ‘nothing to see here, please move along’ stance.

“When we do in fact consider such a catalog, we find that to deny that this is happening, or to diminish it as inconsequential is untenable. There are simply too many examples.”

Leigh Phillips, Jacobin, July 12, 2020

Election results

U.S. Senate in Maine: Sara Gideon defeated Betsy Sweet and Bre Kidman in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Maine. As of 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time on July 15, Gideon had received 70%of the vote followed by Sweet and Kidman with 23% and 7% of the vote, respectively, with 87% of precincts reporting. Gideon was endorsed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the official Senate campaign wing of the national Democratic Party. According to pre-primary campaign finance reports, she had raised $23,001,088, more than all but four other Senate candidates across the country so far in 2020. Gideon will face incumbent U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R) in the general election. Collins is one of two incumbent Republican senators running for re-election in a state that Hillary Clinton (D) won during the 2016 presidential election. Clinton received 48% of the vote in Maine to Donald Trump’s (R) 45%.

U.S. Senate in Texas:  M.J. Hegar defeated Royce West in the Democratic primary runoff for U.S. Senate in Texas. Hegar received 52% of the vote to West’s 48%. Hegar’s endorsers included the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and End Citizens United. She is a former U.S. Army search and rescue and medevac pilot. Hegar ran for the U.S. House in Texas’ 31st District in 2018, losing to incumbent John Carter (R) 51% to 48%. The Texas Working Families Party and several state House members endorsed West. West has served in the state House since 1992. Incumbent Sen. John Cornyn (R) is running for re-election. Democrats last won a statewide election in Texas in 1994. In the most recent U.S. Senate election, incumbent Ted Cruz (R) defeated then-Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) 51% to 48%.

Texas’ 10th Congressional District: Mike Siegel defeated Pritesh Gandhi in the Democratic primary runoff for Texas’ 10th Congressional District. Siegel received 54% of the vote to Gandhi’s 46%. The candidates split on healthcare and climate policy, with Siegel supporting a single-payer healthcare plan and the Green New Deal and Gandhi backing a plan he described as Medicare for All who want it and a carbon fee structure to reduce emissions. The Austin American-Statesman endorsed Gandhi, while the Austin Chronicle and Houston Chronicle endorsed Siegel.

Texas’ 24th Congressional District: Candace Valenzuela defeated Kim Olson in the Democratic primary runoff for Texas’ 24th Congressional District. Valenzuela received 60% of the vote to Olson’s 40%. Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro (D), U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), several members of the U.S. House, and multiple congressional caucus PACs endorsed Valenzuela, who served on the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school board. The Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and multiple organizations supporting military veterans in politics endorsed Olson, a retired Air Force colonel. In 2018, retiring incumbent Kenny Marchant (R) won re-election by three percentage points.

Texas’ 31st Congressional District: Donna Imam defeated Christine Eady Mann in the Democratic primary runoff for Texas’ 31st Congressional District. Imam received 57% of the vote to Eady Mann’s 43%. Imam, a computer engineer, received an endorsement from former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang (D), who said, “Imam is one of the most solutions-oriented candidates I’ve ever spoken to, which is no surprise as she’s an engineer and entrepreneur.” Imam will face incumbent Rep. John Carter (R) in the general election. Carter has represented the 31st District since its creation in 2003. He most recently won re-election in 2018 over M.J. Hegar (D), receiving 51 percent of the vote to Hegar’s 48 percent, the first time a Democratic candidate had won over 40 percent of the vote in the district.

U.S. Congress

Super PAC spends $900,000 supporting Markey in Mass.

The super PAC United for Massachusetts spent $900,000 on TV and digital ads saying Sen. Ed Markey was progressive on healthcare and the environment before crises developed in these areas. The Sunrise Movement and Environment America Action Fund formed the PAC. 

Markey faces U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy in the Sept. 1 primary. Kennedy has pledged to disavow satellite spending in the race and called on Markey to do the same. Markey says he wants to allow progressive voices to be heard.

Former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer endorsed Markey on June 29, saying he’s “been leading the fight in Congress to tackle our climate crisis.”

Markey introduced a Green New Deal resolution into Congress with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in 2019. Kennedy says he supports the Green New Deal and that Markey hasn’t done enough to implement it.

Kennedy released an ad last week saying America has left people behind and, “If you think this is as good as we can possibly be, then great, vote for the status quo. But if you believe that we actually can do better, this has to be the moment where we finally reject the policies of the past and we build something better, something stronger for the future.”

Markey has been in the Senate since 2013. He served in the U.S. House from 1976 to 2013. Kennedy has been in the U.S. House since 2013. 

Groups focused on Israel policy fundraise for Omar challenger Melton-Meaux

Antone Melton-Meaux, who is challenging Rep. Ilhan Omar (D) in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District primary, raised $1.5 million in May. Some of his contributors cite policy differences between him and Omar on Israel as the reason for their support.

Melton-Meaux has received about $450,000 from Pro-Israel America and NORPAC. NORPAC says it supports candidates who “demonstrate a genuine commitment to the strength, security, and survival of Israel.” Pro-Israel America collected about $300,000 in individual donations for Melton-Meaux, and NORPAC collected about $150,000.

Omar has supported the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement’s approach of using economic pressure in an effort to change Israel’s policies regarding Palestine. Melton-Meaux opposes BDS. Both candidates say they support a two-state solution.

Omar has apologized for a 2012 tweet in which she said Israel “has hypnotized the world.” In 2019, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) said he would take action against Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) for their statements on Israel and BDS. Democratic and Republican members of Congress criticized Omar for responding that McCarthy’s statement was “all about the Benjamins,” saying she was playing on anti-Semitic tropes. Omar said she was referring to lobbying money from groups supporting Israel and apologized for her comment. 

Through March 31, Omar reported raising $3.4 million to Melton-Meaux’s $484,000. John Mason had raised $108,000. Data was unavailable for the remaining two primary candidates.

Omar was first elected in 2018. She is part of a progressive group of representatives of color known as the Squad, including Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.).

The primary is Aug. 11.

State executives

Vermont gubernatorial candidates differ on ethics regulations

Former Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe’s (D) proposed ethics rules have split two of her opponents in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Holcombe’s proposal, released July 9, calls for expanding the Vermont Ethics Commission’s powers as well as a five-year lobbying ban on former governors and administration officials and a two-year lobbying ban on former state legislators.

Attorney Pat Winburn said he backed Holcombe’s proposal and that lobbyists should have less influence in state politics. Holcombe’s other opponent, Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, said her proposal went too far. 

Zuckerman said Vermont’s two-year gubernatorial terms already put the state at a disadvantage when attempting to hire top administration officials from the private sector and that a five-year lobbying ban was a step in the wrong direction. 

The Aug. 11 primary is open to all registered voters. Incumbent Phil Scott (R), who was first elected in 2016, is running for a third term this year. Two election forecasters say Scott is likely to win and a third says he is a solid bet to win.

Vermont Auditor, challenger clash over state audit release

Vermont Auditor Doug Hoffer and primary challenger Linda Sullivan released dueling statements following Hoffer’s release of an audit of Vermont’s healthcare system. 

Sullivan, a member of the state House, criticized the timing of the report’s release. Sullivan said the report had been deliberately timed to coincide with the start of early voting in the primary. She said Hoffer’s campaign had sent a message to supporters touting the audit the same day it was published. 

Sullivan also criticized the substance of the audit, saying it did little beyond state known risk factors and describe existing problems without offering any suggestions for improvement. Sullivan campaign manager Jim Salsgiver said the report was evidence that Hoffer did not have the technical knowledge necessary to oversee an office of auditors since he was not a licensed accountant or auditor.

Hoffer, who was first elected in 2012, said Sullivan’s criticisms were politically motivated and contained multiple factual errors. He said the report was intended to be a first step in a larger audit process and that it was appropriate for his campaign to promote it since it was directly related to the responsibilities of the office. He described Sullivan’s criticism as an attempt to gain voters’ attention ahead of the primary.

The Aug. 11 primary is open to all registered voters. The winner of the Democratic nomination will face Progressive nominee Cris Ericson in the general election. No Republican candidate filed for state auditor in Vermont this year.


*The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 41 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Minn. state Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party warns incumbent to stop implying he received the party’s endorsement

Minnesota Democratic-Famer-Labor Party (DFL) Chairman Ken Martin wrote a letter to state Sen. Erik Simonson (D-07) last week warning him over his campaign practices. The letter requested that Simonson stop implying the party has endorsed him in the Aug. 11 primary.

In a now-inactive Facebook ad, Simonson wrote, “As a Senate DFL assistant leader, public servant and fierce advocate of Duluth, it comes as no surprise that labor and local DFL organizations are standing by Senator Simonson.”

In his letter to Simonson, Martin wrote, “I … request that you cease and desist the manner in which you reference your affiliation with the ‘DFL.’” He added, “An unendorsed candidate like you wishing to identify himself as a member of the DFL Party must use words such as ‘member of’ or ‘affiliated with’ in conjunction with the party name.” 

On May 13, we reported that challenger Jen McEwen (D) received the party’s endorsement over Simonson at a virtual convention with 70 percent of the delegate vote to Simonson’s 29 percent. McEwen’s campaign manager, Bridget Holcomb, said, “While it must be difficult for Sen. Simonson to have lost the support of local Democrats, it’s important that we all play by the rules.”

Simonson said he addressed the issues on July 9: “I wasn’t trying to be sneaky, I get it … I am an assistant minority leader of the DFL caucus in the state Senate.”

Campaign finance reports show challenger outraising incumbent in Hawaii’s House District 13

Campaign spending reports covering the period from January 1 to June 30 showed Walter Ritte (D) outraising incumbent Rep. Lynn DeCoite (D-13) in Hawaii’s House District 13. 

According to The Maui News Colleen Uechi, reports from across the state showed that “incumbent candidates unsurprisingly led the field in total campaign funds,” but that “Ritte was one of the few challengers to stay financially competitive with his opponent.” During the first half of the year, Ritte raised $39,076.83, giving him $23,127.60 cash on hand. DeCoite raised $16,050, bringing her cash total to $29,872.95.

Ritte is a Native Hawaiian activist who helped form Hui Alaloa, a group focused on water and land access rights, in the 1970s. Since then, he has been involved in a number of movements on the island of Molokai. He received endorsements from Our Revolution Hawaii, the Sierra Club, and the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

DeCoite owns and operates L&R Farms Enterprises on Molokai. She was appointed to District 13 in 2015 following the resignation of Rep. Mele Carroll (D). She won election to a full term in 2016 and was re-elected in 2018. DeCoite received contributions from the campaigns of state Sens. J. Kalani English (D-07), Michelle Kidani (D-18), Donna Kim (D-14), and Gil Keith-Agaran (D-05).

The winner of the Aug. 11 primary will face Republican Robin Vanderpool and Aloha Aina Party candidate Theresa Kapaku in the general election.

Power players

“BOLD PAC is the fastest growing Democratic Political Action Committee dedicated to increasing the diversity of our leadership in the House and Senate. It champions progressive Democrats fighting for change.” – BOLD PAC website 

BOLD PAC was founded in 2001 as the fundraising arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The group says it supports “strong Hispanic candidates and candidates who embrace BOLD policies.” As of May 2020, the group said it was spending $2.75 million on 2020 congressional primaries. 

BOLD PAC Chairman Tony Cárdenas said, “BOLD PAC is proud to support Latino candidates to help hold the Democratic House majority and expand the Hispanic Caucus. Democrats made historic gains in 2018 and secured the majority in the House with the most diverse Congress in our nation’s history. With so much at stake, BOLD PAC is fully committed to building on the success of 2018 and helping elect a new wave of Latino leaders to Congress.”

Click the following links to view the group’s endorsed Hispanic candidates, endorsed candidates, and BOLD members

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 26 (July 8, 2020)

This week: Kennedy wins NJ-2 primary, Texas Working Families Party endorses West in Senate runoff, and Tlaib and Jones completed Ballotpedia’s candidate survey.

Click here to follow developments on the Republican side. Have a tip or see something we missed? Email us at geoff@ballotpedia.org. And please share this newsletter with your colleagues!

Election results

This section includes election results for each July 7 battleground Democratic primary we followed, as well as the results from those June 23 battleground primaries in New York that were too close to call at the time we published last week’s edition.

July 7

New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District: Amy Kennedy defeated Brigid Callahan Harrison and three other candidates to win the Democratic nomination in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District. As of 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time on July 8, Kennedy had received 59% of the vote to Harrison’s 26%. Local political observers described the race as part of a larger battle among state Democrats. Harrison’s supporters included Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, and six of the district’s eight county Democratic parties. Kennedy had support from Gov. Phil Murphy and the Atlantic County Democratic Party, which is the district’s largest. Kennedy will face incumbent Jeff Van Drew (R), who was elected as a Democrat in 2018 and joined the GOP the following year.

June 23

New York’s 9th Congressional District: Incumbent Yvette Clarke defeated Adem Bunkeddeko and three other challengers to win the Democratic nomination in New York’s 9th Congressional District. The Associated Press called the race for Clarke on July 1 based on an analysis of absentee ballots that concluded there were not enough votes remaining for Bunkeddeko to win. At the time the race was called, Clarke led Bunkeddeko 62% to 18%. Election forecasters say Clarke, who was first elected in 2006, is a solid bet to win re-election.

New York’s 10th Congressional District: Incumbent Jerry Nadler defeated Lindsey Boylan and Jonathan Herzog to win the Democratic nomination for New York’s 10th Congressional District. The Associated Press called the race for Nadler on July 1 based on an analysis of absentee ballots that concluded there were not enough votes remaining for Boylan to win. At the time the race was called, Nadler led with 62% of the vote to Boylan’s 25% and Herzog’s 12%. Election forecasters call this a safe Democratic district.

On the news

Where do Democratic and progressive pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

On Hamilton and Black Lives Matter

“One way we compliment art is by calling it either timely or timeless, praising it for capturing a moment in a way conventional political language can’t, or for lifting us out of our surroundings entirely. But there is a third category: work that is timely over and over again without ever seeming generic or insubstantial.


“‘Hamilton,’ the musical biography of both Founding Father Alexander Hamilton and the country he helped invent, is such a work. And as Disney Plus starts streaming a filmed version of the ‘Hamilton’ stage show, the source of the work’s power is clear. ‘Hamilton’ is a show for every moment because it’s about the uneven progress of personal and social change. You can watch ‘Hamilton’ in exultation and in despair, or — now that a pandemic has put much of daily life on hold even as a movement against racism promises sweeping change — both. …


“… however urgent the demands of the Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the nation and the world, that vision won’t be recognized overnight. Change is going to come. And ‘Hamilton’ will endure because it can teach us how to alternately seize the moment and savor it.”

Alyssa Rosenberg, The Washington Post, July 3, 2020

“… to reassess ‘Hamilton’ now is to note a crucial incompatibility with our current moment: Its hero and its message are essentially ambivalent while today’s politics around America’s racial sins requires taking a strong stance. … 


“While the play ‘Hamilton’ has certainly acted as a positive vehicle for the exposure and success of people of color on Broadway, their subversive casting as white founders effectively erases the 14% of late 18th-century Black residents who were mostly enslaved in New York and for whom such vaunted positions were unimaginable.


“One could argue that ‘Hamilton’ does not seek to fundamentally alter society with its feel-good version of the Revolution, especially since the values and triumphs it celebrates are drawn entirely from founding fathers who mainly did not consider people of color to be human.”

Ed Morales, CNN Opinion, July 7, 2020

U.S. Congress

Texas Working Families Party endorses West in Senate runoff 

The Texas Working Families Party endorsed Royce West in the U.S. Senate primary runoff. West has served in the state Senate since 1992. Responding to the endorsement, West said, “Together, we can raise the minimum wage to $15/hr and enact more reforms to help working families.” 

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D) also endorsed West last week. Both Castro and the Texas Working Families Party had endorsed Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez ahead of the primary. Ramirez finished third and endorsed West in the runoff.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee endorsed his opponent, MJ Hegar, ahead of the March 3 primary. She is a former U.S. Army search and rescue and medevac pilot. Hegar ran for Texas’ 31st Congressional District in 2018, losing to incumbent Rep. John Carter (R) 51% to 48%. Hegar says she supports raising the minimum wage.

Meanwhile, incumbent Sen. John Cornyn (R) released a radio ad in which a narrator says, “Royce West is far too liberal for Texas, and no one has a clue what MJ Hegar even stands for. Nice choice.”

The July 14 runoff winner will face Cornyn in November. Three election forecasters rate the general election Likely Republican.

Rashida Tlaib, Brenda Jones completed Ballotpedia’s candidate survey

Rep. Rashida Tlaib and primary challenger Brenda Jones, president of the Detroit City Council, completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. The survey questions are designed to elicit insightful and thoughtful responses from candidates on what they care about, what they stand for, and what they hope to achieve. 

Tlaib and Jones are running in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District Democratic primary on Aug. 4. In August 2018, Tlaib defeated Jones in the regular primary election 31.2% to 30.2%, while Jones defeated Tlaib in a special primary the same day 37.7% to 35.9%. Jones completed the term to which John Conyers Jr. had been elected in 2016. Tlaib assumed office in January 2019.

Select survey responses are below, with questions in bold. 

What do you perceive to be the United States’ greatest challenges as a nation over the next decade?


The fact that we haven’t truly addressed the economic inequity in our country. It has led to so many broken systems and injustices, many of which are rooted in structural racism. 

We must make the decision as a country that we will center the most vulnerable and marginalized. We continue to center wealthy individuals, corporations, and profit. We have so many crises happening across the country because of misplaced priorities.


Post COVID-19, the greatest challenge for our nation will be the balance of equity, opportunity and resources for people of color and those from impoverished neighborhoods. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed significant disparities in access to health care, funding for hospitals in minority and impoverished neighborhoods, small business resources, educational resources in minority and impoverished communities and fair employment policies for essential workers such as vacation, sick time and a high quality living wage. Elected officials must work collaboratively over the next decade to address disparities and inequality to ensure everyone across America has access to a quality standard of living.

Tlaib and Jones each also answered featured local questions from The Detroit News, including: How would you foster a more bipartisan, cooperative atmosphere in Congress?


I would ask members to walk into a room, not as a Republican or Democrat, but as a son, mom, daughter or whatever family role they play. I would ask that they function from that place so that their decisions would remain focused on the people they love, and on real change for the better. The system now is so tainted with special interest groups and others who aren’t thinking about our residents, but how they can make more money.


My ability to work across the aisle to create coalitions, develop partnerships and work collaboratively to reach a common goal. I will remain professional, listen to the position of everyone and remain dedicated to developing policies, passing legislation and bringing resources to those in the 13th District, the State and the United States.

Read Tlaib’s full responses here. Read Jones’ full responses here.

To find out more about Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, or if you are a candidate who would like to complete a survey, click here.

State executives

In Vermont gubernatorial race, Zuckerman leads in spring fundraising, Holcombe leads overall

Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman (D) was the top fundraiser in Vermont Democrats’ gubernatorial primary this spring. But according to reports filed July 1 with the Vermont Secretary of State, Rebecca Holcombe (D) has raised the most money overall.

Zuckerman reported raising $130,000 since the March 15 campaign finance reports, bringing his overall fundraising to $290,000. He is in his second term as lieutenant governor after serving 20 years in the state legislature.

Holcombe reported raising $100,000 since March, bringing her cumulative total to $480,000. She served four years as Vermont’s secretary of education.

Attorney Pat Winburn raised $88,000, bringing his cumulative total to $195,000.

A fourth candidate, Ralph Corbo, had not filed a July campaign finance report as of July 7.

The Aug. 11 primary is open to all registered voters. Since 2000, Republicans have won six Vermont gubernatorial elections to Democrats’ four.

Terry McAuliffe raises $1.7 million, fueling speculation over potential 2021 gubernatorial run

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) reported raising $1.7 million for his leadership PAC for what local political observers suggest could be a run to return to the governor’s mansion in 2021. McAuliffe, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was elected governor in 2013.

Virginia is the only state where governors may not serve consecutive terms. Although former governors are eligible to seek re-election after a single term out of office, the only governor to do so successfully in the past century was Mills Godwin, who was elected in 1965 as a Democrat and in 1973 as a Republican.

Should he choose to run again, McAuliffe’s $1.7 million would put him at the head of the Democratic field in fundraising. State Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D) has raised $780,000 to date, while state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D) has raised $275,000.

Other potential Democratic candidates include Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring.

Virginia is currently a Democratic trifecta, where a Democrat is governor and Democrats hold majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly. Except for the 2013 election, every Virginia gubernatorial race since 1973 has been won by the party that lost the previous year’s presidential election.


*The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 40 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Incumbent criticizes Planned Parenthood’s use of Spanish word for dirty in oppositional materials in Texas’ Senate District 27 runoff 

Planned Parenthood Texas has created a website and other materials opposing Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-27) in the July 14 primary runoff. The group has used a Spanish word for dirty—sucio—to describe the senator. The group’s PAC funds the website suciolucio.org. One ad said, “For 30 years, Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. has done the dirty work of extremist politicians like Dan Patrick and Greg Abbott.” The ad mentions Lucio’s positions on a bathroom bill and on abortion. 

Lucio, who was first elected in 1990, is running against Sara Stapleton-Barrera (D).

On July 2, Lucio issued a press release criticizing Planned Parenthood Texas for using the term “Sucio Lucio” in direct mail the group sent opposing him. 

Lucio’s son, Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-38) said, “These big special-interests groups from outside our border community should comprehend the deeper connotations behind the word ‘sucio’ (‘dirty Mexican’) and the association with a person of Hispanic descent.”

The Dallas Morning News’ Allie Morris wrote, “A devout Catholic, [Sen. Lucio] is often the lone Democrat to side with ruling Republicans on contentious social issues, including abortion.”

Lucio’s challenger, constitutional lawyer Stapleton-Barrera, said she “has seen firsthand how the system is rigged against working families, women, immigrants, our LGBT community, and all other minorities,” adding, “I’m running for office because I believe South Texas deserves a senator who truly represents our people.”

During the March 3 primary, Lucio received 49.8% of the vote to Stapleton-Barrera’s 35.6%. In Texas, a candidate must receive more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary to avoid a runoff.

South Florida Sun Sentinel endorses former legislator in Florida’s House District 81 

On July 2, the South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial board endorsed former legislator Kelly Skidmore (D) over first-time candidate and criminal defense attorney Michael Weinstein (D). 

The board wrote, “Democrats in Florida House District 81 are lucky. They get to choose between two very good candidates in the Aug. 18 primary.” The board said Skidmore has “an admirable understanding of how politics works in Tallahassee.” Skidmore previously represented House District 90 from 2006 to 2010. Before that, she was a legislative aid for Ron Klein, a former state senator and representative, from 1996 to 2005. 

Weinstein operates a private practice as a criminal defense attorney. He was the assistant state attorney in Broward County from 1998 to 2002. Weinstein says he is “a proven litigator and negotiator who will bring effective representation that works for our community.”

Incumbent Rep. Tina Polsky (D-81) is not seeking re-election, leaving the seat open. The winner of the primary will face either Saulis Banionis (R) or Silmo Moura (R), the two candidates running for the Republican nomination. The last Republican to run for the 81st District was James Ryan O’Hara in 2012. Kevin Rader (D) defeated O’Hara 64-36%. 

Power players

“Everytown is a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities. Gun violence touches every town in America. For too long, change has been thwarted by the Washington gun lobby and by leaders who refuse to take common-sense steps that will save lives.” – Everytown for Gun Safety website

Founded in 2012, Everytown for Gun Safety is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that describes itself as “a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities.”

The group’s website lists the following issues:

  1. BACKGROUND CHECKS: “We want to close the loopholes that allow criminals and other dangerous people to buy guns without background checks.”
  2. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: “We support laws that save lives by keeping guns away from domestic abusers.”
  3. PREVENTABLE DEATHS: “We can save lives by educating parents about safe storage and responsible gun ownership.”
  4. GUN TRAFFICKING: “We need stronger trafficking laws to give law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on criminals.”

To view a list of candidates the Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund endorsed in June, click here.

Kennedy wins Democratic nomination in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District

Amy Kennedy defeated Brigid Callahan Harrison and three other candidates to win the Democratic nomination in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District. As of 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time, Kennedy had received 55% of the vote to Harrison’s 32%.

Local political observers described the race as part of a larger battle among state Democrats. Harrison’s supporters included Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, and six of the district’s eight county Democratic parties. Kennedy had support from Gov. Phil Murphy and the Atlantic County Democratic Party, which is the district’s largest. Kennedy will face incumbent Jeff Van Drew (R), who was elected as a Democrat in 2018 and joined the GOP the following year.

House Judiciary Chairman Nadler wins three-way Democratic primary in New York’s 10th District

Rep. Jerry Nadler, first elected in 1992, defeated Lindsey Boylan and Jonathan Herzog in the Democratic primary for New York’s 10th Congressional District. The election was held on June 23, 2020, but results were delayed. due to the number of absentee ballots. New York state law prohibits such ballots from being counted until the beginning of the canvas period, which starts one week after election day.

The Associated Press called the race on July 1, 2020, based on an analysis of absentee ballots that had so far been return which concluded that there were not enough votes remaining for Boylan or Herzog to defeat Nadler. At the time the race was called, Nadler had 62 percent of the vote followed by Boylan and Herzog with 25 and 13 percent, respectively.

Nadler received endorsements from The New York Times, the Working Families Party, and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

Decade-high number of incumbents slated for Oklahoma’s state legislative general election

On June 30, 2020, voters across Oklahoma cast their ballots in the state’s legislative primaries.

This year, 125 state legislative seats are up for election. Following the primaries, at least 106 incumbents are advancing to the general election, the highest number within the past decade. The higher number of incumbents in the general election is due to a decade-low number of open seats in both chambers and similarly low numbers of incumbents defeated in the primaries.

In the Senate, two of the 24 incumbents, both Republicans, did not seek re-election, leaving their seats open. In the House, three Democrats and six Republicans retired. In addition to these 11, four incumbents—three Republicans and one Democrat—were defeated in the June 30 primaries. They were:
• Sen. Wayne Shaw (R), Senate District 3
• Rep. Lundy Kiger (R), House District 3
• Rep. Derrel Fincher (R), House District 11
• Rep. Jason Dunnington (D), House District 88

Additionally, Sens. Ron Sharp (R) and Larry Boggs (R) advanced to primary runoffs on August 25. Sen. Paul Scott (R) and Rep. Ajay Pittman (D) ran in primaries that remain too close to call.

In total, 15 incumbents either retired before or were defeated in the June 30 primaries. Pending runoffs and too close to call elections, that number could increase to 19. In either scenario, it is the lowest such number within the preceding decade.

In total, there were 54 party primaries, 15 in the Senate and 39 in the House. By partisan affiliation, there were eight Democratic primaries and 46 Republican primaries. Overall, this marks a 54 percent decrease from 2018, which saw 117 total primaries.

Heading into the general election, Republicans hold a 38-9 supermajority in the Senate and a 77-23 supermajority in the House. Oklahoma is one of 21 Republican state government trifectas with Republicans controlling the governorship and both chambers of the legislature. General election winners will be responsible for redrawing district lines after the 2020 decennial census. The legislature is responsible for drafting congressional and state legislative district plans, both of which are subject to gubernatorial veto.

Additional reading:

Two incumbents defeated in Kentucky state legislative primaries so far

On June 23, 2020, voters across Kentucky cast their ballots in the state’s legislative primaries.

In total, there were six party primaries for state Senate seats and 32 primaries in the state House. By partisan affiliation, there were 13 Democratic primaries and 25 Republican primaries for a total of 38, a decrease from the 51 primaries held in 2018. Overall, the total number of major party candidates seeking state legislative offices in Kentucky has decreased from 289 in 2018 to 242 this year. Democrats experienced a greater decrease in candidates, down from 150 in 2018 to 106 in 2020. There were 136 Republican candidates this year, down from 139 in 2018.

Seventeen incumbents are not seeking re-election in 2020, three in the Senate and 14 in the House. In the Senate, one incumbent was defeated, so of the 19 seats up for election, 15 will feature an incumbent in the general election. One incumbent was also defeated in the House with one race remaining too close to call as of July 2. This means that of the 100 seats up this year, at least 84 will feature incumbents in the general election.

Incumbents defeated in the primary:

• Sen. Albert Robinson (R), Senate District 21
• Rep. Les Yates (R), House District 73

As of July 2, the primary between first-term incumbent Rep. R. Travis Brenda (R) and Josh Bray (R) remained too close to call. On July 1, Brenda officially requested a canvas of the vote after initial results showed Bray with 50.2 percent of the vote to Brenda’s 49.8 percent, a 30-vote margin.

Heading into the general election, Republicans hold a 29-9 majority in the Senate and a 61-37 majority in the House. In Kentucky, a simple majority of votes in each chamber is required to override a gubernatorial veto. In 2019, Andy Beshear (D) was elected governor, making Kentucky one of the 14 states with divided government. General election winners will be responsible for redrawing district lines after the 2020 census. In Kentucky, the legislature is responsible for drafting congressional and state legislative district plans, both of which are subject to gubernatorial veto.

Additional reading:

New Jersey to hold primary election on July 7

The statewide primary election for New Jersey is on July 7, 2020. The filing deadline to run passed on March 30, 2020. Candidates are running in elections for the following offices:

• U.S. Senate (1 seat)
• U.S. House (12 seats)
• State Senate District 25 (special election)
• State House District 25 (special election)

Ballotpedia is also covering local elections in the following areas:
• Essex County
• Hudson County

New Jersey’s primary election was postponed from June 2 to July 7 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Candidates are competing to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3, 2020.

New Jersey’s primary is the 30th to take place in the 2020 election. The next primary is on July 14 in Maine.

Additional reading:

McGrath wins Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Kentucky

Amy McGrath won the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Kentucky and will face Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) in the Nov. 3 general election.

With 99% of precincts reporting, McGrath had 45% of the vote to state Rep. Charles Booker’s 43%. Eight other candidates were on the ballot. The race was called Tuesday, a week following the election, as counties finished counting absentee ballots.

McGrath had raised $41 million as of June 3—more than any other U.S. Senate candidate nationally. The Senate candidate with the second-highest total was McConnell with $33 million. Two other Senate candidates nationally had raised more than $20 million; Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) with $31 million and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) with $21 million.

Among McGrath’s Democratic primary opponents, Charles Booker raised the second-highest amount of $793,000.

McGrath describes herself as progressive on some issues and conservative on others. She supports improving the Affordable Care Act and gradually increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Booker ran as a progressive, backing Medicare for All, an immediate minimum wage increase to $15 an hour, and a universal basic income.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, VoteVets, and more than a dozen unions were among McGrath’s endorsers. Booker’s endorsers included Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the Working Families Party, and the Sunrise Movement.

McConnell was first elected in 1984. Kentucky last elected a Democrat to the Senate in 1992.

Additional Reading: