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Primary preview: Voters head to the polls in seven states on June 26

June 26th will see primaries in New York, Maryland, Oklahoma, Colorado and Utah, as well as runoff races in South Carolina and Mississippi.

A former Republican presidential candidate and a convicted U.S. Army leaker are among the candidates that will appear on ballots next Tuesday as voters in seven states make their primary election picks.

And in the South, voters will head to the polls again in two primary runoffs to determine who will be on their November ballots.  

Here’s a look at the money being spent in New York, Maryland, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Mississippi and South Carolina ahead of Tuesday’s primaries:

New York

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who is up for re-election to New York’s Senate seat, is running unopposed in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. But the spotlight is on the heated House primaries elsewhere in the state, which includes districts containing the Hudson Valley and parts of New York City.

Seven Democrats are fighting an expensive battle in New York’s 19th District House race to challenge incumbent Rep. John Faso (R-N.Y.) in November. As of June 6, the Democrats have combined spent nearly $5 million on the race, with outside spending groups throwing in another $524,000 ahead of Tuesday’s primary. Iraq War veteran Pat Ryan has received the most support from outside spending groups, who have put roughly $356,000 behind his campaign.

In the 11th District’s Republican primary, incumbent Rep. Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.) is facing a challenge from Michael Grimm, who held the seat before pleading guilty to tax fraud and resigning in 2015. Donovan himself is facing scrutiny for allegedly discussing a potential pardon for Grimm with President Donald Trump.

Donovan is outspending Grimm more than 3 to 1 ahead of the primary. Donovan also has the backing of outside spending groups, who have spent about $484,000 supporting his campaign. The largest of those outside backers is the US Chamber of Commerce, which is a corporate-funded trade association that doesn’t have to disclose its donors.

A super PAC closely aligned with President Trump and his political allies, America First Action, has also pitched in $59,960.

Maryland

Incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who has held his Senate seat for decades, is heavily favored to win Tuesday’s Democratic primary, according to a February Goucher College poll. He’s facing seven other Democrats on Tuesday, including Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. Army soldier found guilty of leaking classified information.

Manning has raised just over $81,000, putting her far behind Democratic competitor Jerome Segal, who has raised nearly $1.4 million. Cardin, though, has more than $2.8 million on hand to spend.

Maryland’s 6th District House race will see two crowded primaries on Tuesday, with eight Democrats and four Republicans facing off for a chance to fill Rep. John Delaney’s (D-Md.) seat in November. Delaney announced in 2017 he wouldn’t seek reelection and instead focus on his 2020 presidential bid.

David Trone, the millionaire co-founder of Total Wine & More who’s running in the Democratic primary, has spent more than $10 million of his own money on his campaign, the Washington Post reported. He lost his last bid for the House in 2016 after dropping more than $13 million on his failed campaign.

Candidates in the 6th District primary have proven that money doesn’t always win endorsements. More than two dozen Democratic elected officials in Maryland have endorsed Aruna Miller, one of Trone’s Democratic competitors, the Post reported. She has raised more than $1.3 million.  

Utah

Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate, has been a vocal Trump critic since the mogul’s 2016 campaign. But that does not seem to bother Utah voters, who are expected to pick Romney over state legislator Mike Kennedy in Tuesday’s Republican primary. Tuesday’s winner will face Democrat Jenny Wilson in a race for retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-Utah) seat this November.

Romney has far outspent Kennedy and Wilson, pouring nearly $2 million into the race ahead of the primary. Kennedy, the only candidate to get support from outside spending groups, has spent just under $420,000 in his Senate bid.

Colorado

Most of Colorado’s House primaries are competitive, but the 5th and 6th Districts are drawing the most attention.

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), a five-term incumbent, will have to fend off four Republican challengers in the 5th District race on Tuesday if he wants to keep his House seat this fall. Lamborn’s not getting any help from outside spending groups: The Clean Up Congress PAC, a liberal super PAC, has spent $96,000 opposing him.

In the 6th District, two Democrats are facing off to challenge incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) in November. Coffman is widely seen as a vulnerable Republican, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has selected Jason Crow, one of his Democratic challengers, as part of its “Red to Blue” program to flip House seats this fall.

Crow is up against Levi Tillemann in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. Tillemann has made headlines in recent days for dousing himself with pepper spray in a campaign ad, which YouTube viewers have watched hundreds of thousands of times.

Oklahoma

Four Republicans and two Democrats are battling in Oklahoma’s 1st District House race for an open seat vacated when former Rep. James Bridenstine (R-Okla.) became NASA administrator in April.

Republican Kevin Hern, a McDonald’s franchisee, has raised over $1.3 million — more than all other candidates combined. But he’s stoked the ire of the Club for Growth Action, a conservative super PAC that has spent roughly $272,000 opposing Hern ahead of the primary. And the With Honor Fund, a non-partisan super PAC dedicated to helping veterans win elections, has put just under $200,000 behind one of Hern’s competitors, Republican Andy Coleman.

About half of all money raised in Oklahoma House primaries is from out-of-state donors, Oklahoma Watch reported Monday. The majority of that out-of-state money has gone to GOP incumbents.

Mississippi

Mississippi will hold two runoffs on Tuesday. Two Democrats will face off for a chance to continue in the Senate race, while two Republicans will battle to continue in the 3rd District House race.

Tuesday’s Senate primary runoff will determine whether Democrats Howard Sherman, a venture capitalist, or David Baria, a state legislator, will face incumbent Sen. Roger Wicker (R-M.S.) in November. Sherman leads Baria in fundraising in a primary that has so far been free of outside spending.

In the 3rd District Republican primary runoff, Whit Hughes and Michael Guest are competing to appear on the November ballot against Democratic state legislator Michael Evans. Guest has raised roughly $490,000, while Hughes has raised about $452,000.

South Carolina

Republicans Lee Bright and William Timmons will head to a runoff in South Carolina’s 4th District House race, following a close primary that was decided by only a few hundred votes.

Timmons, who came in second behind Bright in the district’s June 12 primary, edged out Dan Hamilton by only 349 votes.

Though Bright received the majority of the vote on June 12, Timmons received most of the money. The state legislator has raised about $703,000 compared to Bright’s $192,000.

The House race caught the eye of outside spending and politically active nonprofits, who have poured more than $845,000 into the 4th District. A 501(c)(4) social welfare group called Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES) backed Timmons with $50,000 in support earlier this month, OpenSecrets reported. The Conservative Leadership Alliance, another social welfare group, has spent roughly $290,000 opposing Bright ahead of the runoff.

Social welfare organizations like CRES and CLA are not supposed to have politics as their primary purpose, but they can engage in significant political spending without oversight from the IRS or FEC. And because these groups do not have to disclose their donors, they are often referred to as “dark money” groups when they spend in elections.

Read From Source… [OpenSecrets Blog]

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