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Five questions about House primaries in five states

Aug. 1, 2022 Updated Mon., Aug. 1, 2022 at 12:07 p.m.

Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) speaks during a news conference to advocate for ending the Senate filibuster, outside the U.S. Capitol on April 22, 2021, in Washington, DC.    (Drew Angerer/Getty Images North America/TNS)
Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) speaks during a news conference to advocate for ending the Senate filibuster, outside the U.S. Capitol on April 22, 2021, in Washington, DC.   (Drew Angerer/Getty Images North America/TNS)
By Mary Ellen McIntire, Stephanie Akin, Kate Ackley and Niels Lesniewski CQ-Roll Call

WASHINGTON — While there are many uncertainties, one sure thing about Tuesday’s primaries in five states is that at least one House incumbent will lose the chance to be in the next Congress. That’s because Democratic voters in one Michigan district have to choose between two incumbents. But other sitting House members are also in jeopardy on Tuesday, and numerous other primaries will pick nominees for competitive races, especially against members of the Democrats’ “Frontline” program for incumbent protection.

Here are five questions that will be settled after Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington vote.

Who survives the member-member face-off?

Democratic Reps. Haley Stevens and Andy Levin, each seeking a third term, are facing off in Michigan’s 11th District in one of the most closely watched member matchups this year.

Stevens has cut a more moderate reputation in the House, while Levin has leaned on support from the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Retiring Rep. Brenda Lawrence, whose current district makes up about 30 percent of the newly drawn 11th District, backed Stevens earlier this year.

Stevens has the edge in fundraising, raising $4.7 million by July 13 to Levin’s $2.7 million. But Levin, whose father and uncle represented the state in the House and Senate for a combined 72 years, can lean on name recognition and family legacy.

The race has also featured heavy outside spending from pro-Israel groups that have defined other Democratic primaries this year, including last month in Maryland. Super PACs have spent a combined $9.9 million on the race.

Are these incumbents vulnerable?

Republican David Schweikert: Schweikert may well prevail in his Republican primary in Arizona’s new 1st District, but businessman Elijah Norton has been all over the airwaves and has loaned his campaign $4.35 million from his personal wealth. Many of Norton’s attacks have focused on Schweikert’s long-standing ethical troubles. The incumbent was formally reprimanded by the House in 2020. Norton has also been coming after Schweikert from the right, citing a vote Schweikert took against funding for the southwest border wall championed by former President Donald Trump. But Trump endorsed Schweikert in mid-June with a message that said, in part, “David fights to Secure our Border.”

Democrat Cori Bush: Bush, a member of the “squad” of progressive House Democrats who defeated Democratic incumbents in recent cycles, is facing a challenge in Missouri’s St. Louis-area 1st District from the more centrist state Sen. Steve Roberts, 34, who argues that Bush is too busy being an activist to legislate. Roberts, a former prosecutor, has raised $436,000 to Bush’s $1.9 million, but he has the support of prominent state Democrats, including former longtime Rep. Lacy Clay, whom Bush defeated in 2020. Roberts has also been dogged by allegations of sexual assault and groping but insists he did nothing wrong and that old allegations are resurfacing as a part of a political smear campaign. Bush has had $148,000 in outside support, while a group called Yachad PAC, which has spent $62,000 opposing Bush, is reportedly funded by a company tied to Roberts’ father. The race in November is rated Solid Democratic by Inside Elections.

Who makes the November ballot in open battleground seats?

Arizona’s 6th District: Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick’s decision to retire rather than seek election in a reconfigured Tucson-based district has given Republicans a prime pickup opportunity. President Joe Biden would have carried the new district by just 395 votes, according to Arizona Public Media. Juan Ciscomani is the GOP front-runner in the race, which is rated Tilt Republican by Inside Elections. But the Congressional Leadership Fund recently put in $1 million to support Ciscomani, a former aide to Gov. Doug Ducey, ahead of the primary. Kathleen Winn, a former local TV reporter, is the only other candidate in the field to have raised even $100,000 (compared to Ciscomani’s $1.7 million), but Winn has the endorsement of Trump-backed gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake. On the Democratic side, Kirsten Engel and Daniel Hernandez have each raised more than $1 million. Engel is a former state senator who has the endorsement of EMILY’s List, while Hernandez is a state representative perhaps best known nationally because he was an intern for then-Rep. Gabby Giffords who was present when she was shot in 2011.

Michigan’s 10th District: Army veteran John James, who ran for Senate in 2018 and 2020, is expected to be the Republican nominee in Michigan’s open 10th District. In the primary, he faces Tony Marcinkewciz. James was named to the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Gun” program for promising candidates and had $2.5 million in his campaign account as of July 13. He’s also had $124,000 in outside support from Americans for Prosperity Action and Elbert Guillory’s America, a PAC tied to former Louisiana state Sen. Elbert Guillory. The five-way Democratic primary includes former Macomb County Circuit Judge Carl Marlinga, lawyer Huwaida Arraf, political newcomer Rhonda Powell, Warren City Council Angela Rogensues and former state Rep. Henry Yanez. Inside Elections rates the race as Tilt Republican.

Who’s practically Congress-bound after winning these open-seat primaries?

Missouri’s 4th District: GOP Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s pursuit of retiring GOP Sen. Roy Blunt’s seat led to a crowded primary in the west-central part of the state. Former Boone County Clerk Taylor Burks, a Navy veteran, is the top fundraiser, with $851,000, including $94,000 he loaned or donated to his campaign. The second-place fundraiser, former Fox 4 anchor Mark Alford, pulled in $600,000 and had an additional $570,000 in outside support, most of it from the cryptocurrency-linked American Dream Federal Action PAC. But that was offset by $693,000 in opposition spending from the School Freedom Fund, an offshoot of the anti-tax Club for Growth, which spent $614,000 supporting state Sen. Richard Brattin, who was endorsed by the influential anti-abortion group Missouri Right to Life. Brattin, whose $301,000 in receipts included a $30,000 candidate loan, also had to contend with a combined $769,000 in opposition spending from outside groups, most of it from a group formed in July called the Conservative Americans PAC, which also invested in the 7th District race. Cattle farmer Kalena Bruce, whose $383,000 in receipts included a $150,000 candidate loan, has an endorsement from the influential Missouri Farm Bureau, which spent $9,000 supporting her campaign. Former St. Louis Blues hockey player Jim Campbell loaned his campaign more than $1 million, but he has received less than $10,000 in donations and hasn’t appeared at any forums featuring the top contenders. Democrat Jack Truman is uncontested in his party’s primary. The race in November is rated Solid Republican.

Missouri’s 7th District: Rep. Billy Long’s decision to run for Senate also drew a crowd seeking to replace him. Jay Wasson and Eric Burlison — a former and current state senator, respectively — have dominated the eight-way race in fundraising, media interest and outside support. Both are promoting themselves as devotees of Trump, with Wasson touting his local support, while Burlison has more backing from national Republicans. Wasson’s $1.3 million in receipts, which includes a $750,000 candidate loan, is nearly double what Burlison has raised. But Burlison has benefited from $573,000 in outside support from the Club for Growth and PACs associated with the far-right House Freedom Fund, while Wasson has had $1.1 million in outside spending against him — most of it from the Club for Growth. State Sen. Mike Moon, who raised $157,000, faced $273,000 in spending against him by a group called Conservative Americans PAC, which also spent $672,000 opposing Burlison. Three candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination, with the top fundraiser taking in less than $2,100. The race in November is rated Solid Republican.

Michigan’s 13th District: The nine-way Democratic primary for the vacancy caused by Brenda Lawrence’s retirement will essentially determine the Detroit-area district’s next member of Congress. State Rep. Shri Thanedar loaned his campaign $8.2 million as of July 13, giving himself a significant cash advantage despite raising just $16,500 from other donors. State Sen. Adam Hollier raised $963,000 as of July 13, while attorney Portia Roberson has raised $460,000. Those three seem to be the leading candidates in the race, although others, like John Conyers, the son of the late Rep. John Conyers Jr., could be in the mix, said Mario Morrow, a Detroit-based consultant. Outside groups have sought to offset Thanedar’s spending advantage. Combined, six groups have spent $4.2 million supporting Hollier and another $2.8 million against Thanedar, disclosures through Friday showed. Martell Bivings is running unopposed in the primary, but the district in its new configuration backed Biden over Trump in 2020 by 49 percentage points.

Who ends up facing these ‘Frontline’ Democrats?

Tom O’Halleran: Republicans have been lining up to challenge incumbent O’Halleran, whose redrawn district (renumbered to the 2nd District) favored Trump by about 8 points in 2020, and three candidates have a clear funding advantage in the crowded field. Eli Crane, a former Navy SEAL who cut a deal on ABC’s “Shark Tank” for his product Bottle Breacher, has raised about $2 million and picked up the endorsement of the former president. The candidate with the best local name ID may be state Rep. Walt Blackman, who has represented a large swath of the new district and raised about $1 million. He is the first Black Republican ever elected to the Arizona legislature. The third candidate to have brought in at least $1 million is Mark DeLuzio, who touts the endorsement of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Inside Elections rates the race Lean Republican.

Greg Stanton: Tanya Contreras Wheeless, who was a senior staffer for former Arizona Sen. Martha McSally, has the backing of the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is aligned with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, in the race to take on the Democrat Stanton in the new Phoenix-based 4th District. Others in the GOP primary include Kelly Cooper, a restaurant owner and former Marine, who has loaned his campaign more than $1.3 million, and Jerone Davison, a former Oakland Raiders running back who had a viral ad that depicted Democrats wearing white hoods of the Ku Klux Klan. Inside Elections rates the race Likely Democratic.

Sharice Davids: In Kansas, Republicans have consolidated around businesswoman Amanda Adkins in the two-person primary to take on three-term Democratic incumbent Davids in the 3rd District. Adkins, a former executive at Cerner, a health information technology company, chaired the state Republican Party a decade ago and was the 2020 GOP nominee, when she lost to Davids. Since then, the district — the state’s most competitive — has been redrawn to take in more conservative, rural areas in the west of the state in addition to the left-leaning Kansas City suburbs. Inside Elections rates the November race a Toss-up. Adkins has raised $2.2 million and had $1.5 million left on hand as of July 13. With John McCaughrean, the other Republican on the ballot, not reporting any fundraising, Adkins and Davids — along with their respective national parties — have concentrated on their presumed November matchup. To that end, the Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with GOP House leadership, has already spent $275,000 on digital ads supporting Adkins, whom Democrats have been attacking for her proximity to unpopular former GOP Gov. Sam Brownback. Davids, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary, has raised $4.8 million and had $3.5 million in the bank.

Elissa Slotkin: In Michigan’s 7th District, Slotkin is set to face state Sen. Tom Barrett, who was named an NRCC Young Gun. Another Republican, Jake Hagg, was disqualified from the ballot but is running a write-in campaign. Slotkin will enter the general election campaign with a significant cash advantage. She reported having $6.6 million on hand as of July 13, while Barrett had $447,000. Inside Elections rates the race Tilt Democratic.

Dan Kildee: The Republican primary to take on Kildee in Michigan’s 8th District is a bit more crowded. Paul Junge, a former deputy district attorney who also worked at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during the Trump administration, ran against Slotkin in 2020. He was named a Young Gun but faces two other Republicans, retired businesswoman Candice Miller and Matthew Seely, who was endorsed by FreedomWorks. Junge has outraised Seely, raising $540,000 as of July 13, to Seely’s $445,000. Miller hasn’t reported raising any money, according to FEC filings. Kildee, who has already begun airing television ads in the district, had raised $2.9 million. Inside Elections rates the race Tilt Democratic.

Kim Schrier: Democratic Rep. Kim Schrier, a pediatrician who first won election to Congress in 2018, is the only House member from Washington in a battleground district. Schrier and 10 other candidates are on the ballot Tuesday in the 8th District’s all-party primary, from which the top two finishers will advance to the general election. Schrier is expected to breeze into the top two, but she’ll be watching a field of three likely GOP opponents: Army Ranger veteran Jesse Jensen; King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn; and lawyer-businessman Matt Larkin. Schrier led in fundraising, holding $5.6 million on hand as of July 13, according to FEC disclosures. Jensen was next with $218,000. Outside groups disclosed shelling out about $400,000 so far, with nearly $250,000 of that from the Lead the Way PAC in support of Jensen. The race in November is rated a Toss-up.

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