primary day

What we’re watching in today’s primaries

Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Oregon, Idaho and Kentucky voters head to the polls today

Voters in five states head to the polls today, but across the country, eyes are on Pennsylvania and North Carolina, which will see some of the highest-profile — and most expensive — primary matchups of the 2022 cycle. Here’s what we’re watching today:

Pennsylvania Governor: State Sen. Doug Mastriano, a Republican, and Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, are expected to advance in their parties’ primaries to the general election. Mastriano, who was outside of the Capitol on Jan. 6, was endorsed by former President Donald Trump on Saturday. Mastriano is leading a crowded field of candidates, while Shapiro is running unopposed.

Pennsylvania Senate (GOP): What had previously been a two-man race between hedge fund exec David McCormick and Dr. Mehmet Oz in the state’s Republican primary was turned into an unexpected free-for-fall in the final days of the campaign, with polls showing an 11th-hour surge in support for little-known political commentator Kathy Barnette, who has endorsed and campaigned alongside Mastriano. McCormick and Oz have attacked each other relentlessly on the airwaves, seeing their favorables plummet, providing a potential pathway for Barnette.

Pennsylvania Senate (Dem.): Experts suggest that the race is Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s to lose, with the former mayor besting Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) in both fundraising and in the polls. The progressive Fetterman — who told JI last month that the U.S.-Israel relationship needs “to be safeguarded, protected, supported and nurtured through legislation and all available diplomatic efforts in the region” —  has repeatedly said his views do not align with those of members of the Squad, despite his positioning to Lamb’s left. Lamb, for his part, has called for a “delicate balance” on the part of the U.S. when it comes to supporting Israel while criticizing some of its policies.

PA-12: In the hotly contested race for an open House seat in Pittsburgh and its surrounding suburbs, two leading candidates with opposing approaches to Israel are locked in fierce competition for the chance to succeed outgoing Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA). The progressive frontrunner, Squad-aligned state Rep. Summer Lee, is facing off against Steve Irwin, an attorney connected with the Democratic establishment. The primary has been waged on the national stage as a sort of proxy battle between warring Democratic factions amid an influx of outside spending, particularly from pro-Israel groups backing Irwin’s campaign. While Irwin had been struggling to gain traction in the months leading up to the election, he now appears to have mounted a late comeback as the race has narrowed to a neck-and-neck sprint for the finish line. Experts say it’s anyone’s guess who will prevail.

N.C. Senate (GOP): Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) has been the favorite in the GOP’s primary in North Carolina, boosted by an early endorsement from Trump. Former Gov. Pat McCrory started out as a top contender, but has been attacked for being out-of-step with the MAGA-oriented electorate. Other candidates in the race include Marjorie K. Eastman, a combat veteran, and former Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), both of whom lag well behind in the primary polls.

NC-01: State Sen. Don Davis is squaring off against former state Sen. Erica Smith in the Eastern Carolina district. Davis has the backing of the United Democracy Project (UDP), which has spent more than $300,000 in the race, as well as outgoing Rep. G.K. Butterfield, while Smith has been endorsed by J Street.

NC-04: In the crowded Democratic primary to succeed longtime Rep. David Price (D-NC), three candidates — Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, state Sen. Valerie Foushee and “American Idol” star Clay Aiken — have bolted to the front of the pack. Foushee has drummed up endorsements from the Democratic establishment in the state, as well as financial backing from pro-Israel groups, including the UDP, which spent close to $300,000 in the district this year.

NC-06: Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC), who was initially drawn out of her district before a court struck down the original maps, will win the Democratic primary, where she faces no opposition, in the state’s 6th Congressional District.

NC-11: Facing a deluge of controversies that have turned many Republican leaders against him in recent months, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), the increasingly embattled freshman congressman from western North Carolina, has found his political future in question as he prepares to go up against more than a half-dozen primary challengers. His most formidable opponent, state Sen. Chuck Edwards, has earned backing from a number of high-profile elected officials across the state who believe that Cawthorn, at 26, has already overstayed his welcome in Congress. While a polling memo obtained by JI in late March suggested that Cawthorn may be “in danger,” it remains to be seen if he has maintained a sufficient level of goodwill among voters in the district to clinch the nomination. If no candidate secures more than 30% of the vote, the top two vote-getters will advance to a runoff.

OR-05: In the Democratic primary in the district encompassing and surrounding Salem, the state capital, Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), who has represented the 5th District since 2009, is facing progressive attorney Jamie McLeod Skinner. The small business owner fell short in her previous bids for office, but has demonstrated support in the newly included liberal precincts in the redrawn 5th. She’s been endorsed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and won backing from several progressive groups, including the Working Families Party. The race has raised concerns among party leaders — including President Joe Biden, who gave his first endorsement of the cycle to Schrader — who argue that only the congressman can win in the district, which the Cook Political Report rates as “lean Democratic” in November.

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