It’s primary day in D.C. plus nine states – Arizona, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin. Keep in mind the Dems need to pick up 6 seats in November to regain control of the Senate and 15 seats to win back the House.
Here’s a rundown of what we’ve got our eyes on:
Rhode Island Senate Republicans: In the Republican version of Connecticut’s Lamont-Lieberman slugfest, incumbent Sen. Lincoln Chafee is battling for political survival against Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey, a conservative backed by the Club for Growth. Despite Chafee’s frequent opposition to Bush administration policies, in recent days the National Republican Senatorial Committee has declared Laffey “unelectable” in the general election, and vowed not to support him. Even if Chafee wins, he is projected to have a tight race against Democratic challenger Sheldon Whitehouse. While pro-Israel money had initially been slow in coming to Laffey, his spokesperson said at least 4 PACs have donated in the past week, while several officials at other PACs have told the Forward they plan to help Whitehouse in the event of a match-up with Chafee.
Maryland Senate Democrats: Polls show Rep. Ben Cardin with a slight edge over former congressman and NAACP leader Kwesi Mfume for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Paul Sarbanes. Check out Matthew Berger’s coverage in our pages last week.
New York 11: City Councilmember David Yassky faces three opponents for the open seat of retiring Democratic Rep. Major Owens. The race has been highly contentious for months because Yassky, who is white and Jewish, is vying to represent a majority-minority district. It’s too close to call, with one recent poll giving all four candidates around 20% each, with 20% undecided.
Maryland 3: Eight Democrats are competing for the Baltimore-area district seat being vacated by Cardin, including John Sarbanes, son of the retiring senator. If Sarbanes prevails, November will feature a blow-out contest that pits Jew vs. (sort of) Jew … Republican nominee Dr. Gary Applebaum is Jewish, and Sarbanes is married to a Jew and is reportedly raising his children as Jews.
Minnesota 5: If he prevails in this tight four-way race for the seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Rep. Martin Sabo, Keith Ellison will almost surely make history in November as the first Muslim-American elected to Congress. While Ellison had been the front-runner in this race, in recent months he has been dogged by scandals involving his past association with the Nation of Islam, as well as unpaid taxes and late campaign filings. Bonus for another Jewish Republican nominee – Alan Fine – who will stand no chance in the general election, regardless of who wins the Democratic nomination.
Wisconsin 8: While this open seat leans Republican – it’s currently held by Republican Rep. Mark Green, who is running for governor – it is definitely on the Dem hit list for November. Tomorrow, Steve Kagen (Jew) battles Nancy Nusbaum (not Jew) for the shot. He’s favored to win.