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What to Watch in Kentucky Election Results and Colorado Senate Race

  • The Democratic presidential primary may be effectively decided, but there are still elections left on the calendar. And Tuesday brings a handful of new contests, as well as some long-awaited results. There are competitive Democratic Senate primary races in Kentucky and Colorado. A governor’s race in Utah. And House Republican primaries in Utah and Colorado as the party chooses candidates to run in highly competitive congressional contests in November. Results may be delayed, with many voters casting absentee ballots because of the coronavirus crisis.

  • Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky should learn which Democratic opponent — Amy McGrath or Charles Booker — will embark on what is expected to be a well-financed, if somewhat long-shot, bid to unseat him this fall. (Yes, the voting took place last Tuesday. These things take time.)

  • Colorado is the top priority for Democrats trying to pick up states to take back the Senate. Will the party’s favored candidate, John Hickenlooper, the former governor, emerge unscathed from his primary race after a rough month that rattled Democrats and heartened Republicans?

  • Can you go home again? After stints as ambassador to Russia and China, Jon Huntsman Jr. wants to be governor of Utah again. The Republican primary election on Tuesday should tell whether voters agree.

After a week of waiting, the full results of the Democratic primary for Senate in Kentucky should be announced on Tuesday night. Most ballots cast by voters who went to the polls in person last Tuesday have already been counted, but counties have until 6 p.m. local time this Tuesday to report official results, which will include many thousands of absentee ballots.

The Democratic Party (and Mr. McConnell) will learn whether Ms. McGrath, who at one point seemed to be floating to the nomination, has faced a spirited challenge from Mr. Booker, a state representative.

Credit…Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader, via Associated Press
Credit…Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader, via Associated Press

Ms. McGrath is a former fighter pilot who assembled a war chest exceeding $41 million, in no small part because she had the backing of Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. Mr. Booker drew a burst of support for his campaign from the left — including from Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

How much does it matter who wins this race? Mr. McConnell is a top target for Democrats, not so much because polls suggest he is particularly vulnerable, but because he is Mitch McConnell. History and polling suggest that he is likely to win re-election in November, but Ms. McGrath’s extraordinary fund-raising and Mr. Booker’s rapid rise during a period of heightened political activism are testimony to these very unusual and unpredictable times.

Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado is probably the most endangered Republican in the Senate: Any path to Democrats’ taking control of the chamber starts in Colorado. Things were certainly looking up for the party when it coaxed Mr. Hickenlooper to jump into the Senate race after he abandoned a long-shot campaign for president.

ImageFormer Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado briefly ran for president last year.
Credit…Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

But it hasn’t turned out to be that easy. For one thing, Mr. Hickenlooper is facing a primary challenge from Andrew Romanoff, a former state House speaker who has drawn heavy financial support from liberal groups across the country who find Mr. Hickenlooper too much of a centrist.

For another, Mr. Hickenlooper has had a difficult month. His campaign has been marked by missteps and gaffes. He was held in contempt by the state ethics commission for defying a subpoena to appear at a hearing over a complaint against him, and was found guilty of two ethics violations while he was the state’s governor, for accepting rides on a private jet and in a limousine.

Polling suggests that Mr. Hickenlooper is in a strong position to win on Tuesday — and that, if he wins, he would be a formidable challenger to Mr. Gardner in the fall. But a closer than expected outcome could raise questions about Mr. Hickenlooper’s fortitude going into the general campaign, and could embolden Republicans who were inclined to turn their attention to other races.

In 2009, Mr. Huntsman, a Republican, stepped down as governor of Utah to become ambassador to China — for President Barack Obama. In 2017, he went on to become ambassador to Russia — for President Trump. In 2020, he wants to become governor again, now that Gary Herbert, the former lieutenant governor who became governor when Mr. Huntsman went to China, is stepping down.

Utah is not exactly laying down the welcome mat. Mr. Huntsman is in a tough primary fight with Spencer Cox, the lieutenant governor — who has the backing of Mr. Herbert, who was barred from running again by term limits. Mr. Huntsman might be more popular outside his party than inside it; he encouraged independents and Democrats to register as Republicans so they could vote for him on Tuesday.

Credit…Eli Lucero/The Herald Journal, via Associated Press

Republicans are picking challengers in two House seats that they lost to Democrats in 2018 and are intent on clawing back. They are prime pickup opportunities for Republicans: Mr. Trump won both districts in 2016.

The first is in Oklahoma, where there is a nine-way Republican primary for the opportunity to take on Representative Kendra Horn, a Democrat. She unseated Steve Russell, a Republican, with just over 50 percent of the vote in 2018.

In Utah, there is a four-way Republican primary for the chance to challenge Representative Ben McAdams, a Democrat, who defeated Mia Love, the Republican incumbent, by an even narrower margin in 2018.

Three closely watched races from last Tuesday’s primary elections in New York will not be decided until tens of thousands of absentee ballots are counted, and that process won’t begin until Wednesday at the earliest, according to election officials.

In the 15th Congressional District in the Bronx, Ritchie Torres, a City Council member, leads a pack of seven Democrats and could become the first openly gay black man to serve in Congress. The same is true of Mondaire Jones, a Harvard-educated lawyer, who holds a formidable lead in the 17th District, located just north of New York City, though some absentee ballots in that district will not be counted until July 7.

Bridging the two is the 16th District, in which the political newcomer Jamaal Bowman, a middle school principal from Yonkers, is leading Representative Eliot L. Engel, a longtime incumbent, in a four-way Democratic primary. Mr. Bowman has already claimed victory, though Mr. Engel — who serves as the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee — says he wants all votes counted.

Jesse McKinley contributed reporting.

Source: NYT

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