It’s Super Tuesday, and while most people were focused on former Vice President Joe Biden’s great night against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, there were also a handful of interesting local races with national relevance being decided.
Five states — California, Texas, North Carolina, Alabama, and Arkansas — held statewide primaries for a variety of elected positions, including a number of races that could impact which party ends up in control of Congress. All but Arkansas will be key House and Senate battleground states in November.
There were also a number of disruptions to voters in several states. Deadly tornadoes knocked out polling places in Tennessee, fears over the coronavirus left some precincts in California and Texas short of election workers, and overwhelmed voting systems led to long lines in Los Angeles.
Here’s a brief rundown of the state primary races to watch across the country tonight:
Jeff Sessions, who previously occupied this Senate seat but left to become President Donald Trump’s attorney general (and was subsequently fired), will advance to a run-off later this month against former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville after failing to secure a majority of the primary vote Tuesday night.
Sessions has gone out of his way to express his admiration of Trump on the campaign trail, but that didn’t stop the president from roasting his former attorney general on Twitter Wednesday morning.
“We’re going to finish what President Trump started when he looked at Jeff Sessions from across the table and said ‘You’re fired,’” Tuberville said Tuesday night.
Fortunately for Republicans, failed 2017 special election candidate (and accused child molester) Roy Moore finished a distant fourth.
The winner of the run-off between Sessions and Tuberville will face incumbent Democrat Doug Jones in November.
In California, where many races remain too close to call, two familiar Republicans are eyeing a comeback.
In the 50th Congressional District, former Republican Rep. Darrell Issa is ahead of former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio to fill the seat vacated by former Rep. Duncan Hunter, who resigned after pleading guilty to misusing campaign funds. Whomever ends up with the most votes after mail-in ballots are counted will face Ammar Campa-Najjar, who served in former President Barack Obama’s Labor Department and lost to Hunter in 2018.
In the 21st Congressional District, former Republican Rep. David Valadao survived a primary that included father-son hopefuls Rocky and Ricky De La Fuente. Valadao will face off against incumbent Democrat Rep T.J. Cox in November in a closely-watched rematch of 2018′s contest.
In the 25th Congressional District, Democratic state Rep Christy Smith and Republican Mike Garcia, a former Navy fighter pilot, appear to have advanced in a highly-contested primary for the seat vacated by the resignation of Democratic Rep. Katie Hill due to allegations of inappropriate relationships with her staffers.
Smith and Garcia will face-off in a May special election to immediately fill Hill’s seat until November. The two will then be on the ballot again in November.
Among the other Republicans in that race were former Rep. Steve Knight and ex-Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. On the Democratic side, Cenk Uygur — the progressive founder of The Young Turks and a former MSNBC contributor — failed to garner much support.
North Carolina’s Senate race is one of a handful across the country that could decide which party ends up in the majority. Incumbent Republican Sen. Thom Tillis won his seat in 2014 and easily defeated his three primary challengers Tuesday night.
But Tillis is among the most-vulnerable Republican Senate incumbents, and will face a stiff challenge from Democratic opponent Cal Cunningham, a former state lawmaker and Iraq and Afghanistan veteran who also easily won his primary.
Thanks to a court-ordered redistricting of congressional districts, Democrats are expected to gain a handful of seats in the Tar Heel State come November. Three Republican members of Congress are not seeking reelection this year, and two of those seats — the 2nd Congressional District and the 6th Congressional District — are targeted by Democrats.
Former state Rep. Deborah Ross easily won the Democratic primary in the 2nd District. Over in the 6th District, University of North Carolina-Greensboro trustee Kathy Manning defeated congressional aide Rhonda Foxx and three other Democratic candidates.
This year’s Senate race in Texas has attracted a crowded field of Democratic candidates looking to unseat incumbent Republican John Cornyn in November. Mary “MJ” Hegar, a former Air Force rescue helicopter pilot, earned enough votes to make it a May 26 runoff. It appears she’ll face state Sen. Royce West, who holds a narrow vote lead over labor activist Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez.
As for congressional primaries, the 22nd Congressional District is one of many Democrats are looking to flip in 2020. Pierce Bush — the grandson of the late President George H.W. Bush — failed to garner enough votes to quality for a two-person run-off. Instead, Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls will face off against wealthy activist Kathaleen Wall.
The winner will face off in November against Democrat Sri Preston Kulkarni, a former diplomat who ran but lost against Olson in 2018.
Another seat Democrats are looking to turn blue is the 23rd Congressional District, thanks to incumbent Republican Rep. Will Hurd’s decision to not seek reelection. Hurd endorsed retired Navy cryptologist Tony Gonzales, who narrowly leads Retired Lt Colonel Raul Reyes Jr. with a little more than half of precincts reporting.
On the Democratic side, Iraq war veteran Gina Ortiz Jones — who lost to Hurd in 2018 by just 926 votes — easily won the Democratic primary.
Two other House members from Texas — Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar of the 28th Congressional District and Republican Rep. Kay Granger of the 12th Congressional District — are faced competitive primaries.
With a little less than half of precincts reporting, Cuellar — who is among the few pro-life Democrats in office — narrowly leads progressive civil rights lawyer Jessica Cisneros.
Granger, the only female Republican to hold office in Texas, survived a challenge from the right by former tech executive Chris Putnam.
While Democrats are fighting across the country to flip the Senate, the party didn’t even field a candidate in Arkansas to take on Republican incumbent Sen. Tom Cotton. It was just six years ago that Cotton defeated then-incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, who went unchallenged himself by Republicans in 2008.