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What to Watch in Tuesday’s Primary Elections

Tuesday’s selections will take place in South Carolina, where two members of the Republican House face Trump-backed challengers, and in Nevada, where Republicans aim to capture a large number of Democrat-occupied seats in November’s general election.

Voters in Maine and North Dakota are also heading to the polls, and in Texas Republicans hope to win the Rio Grande Valley seat from Representative Filemon Vela, a Democrat who resigned in March.

The primary season has had more extended election days, but Tuesday has a lot of drama. Here’s what to watch.

Representatives Tom Rice and Nancy Mace crossed over into former President Donald J. Trump in the opening days of 2021 while cleanup crews were still clearing debris from the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Mr Rice was arguably the biggest surprise vote for impeachment – as a Conservative in a highly conservative district, he risked his political career.

Ms Mace voted against impeachment, but in her maiden speech to Congress in January, she said the House “hold the president accountable” for the attack on the Capitol.

So Mr. Trump backed two main challengers: State Rep. Russell Fry against Mr. Rice, and conservative Katie Arrington against Ms. Mace.

In Ms. Mace’s case, Trump’s world is divided. Trump’s first ambassador, Nikki Haley, and one of his chiefs of staff, Mick Mulvaney, both South Carolina, are supporting the incumbent freshmen.

That’s partly because Ms. Arrington has a bad track record: In 2018, after beating then-Representative Mark Sanford in the Republican primaries after beating Mr. Trump, she lost to a Democrat, Joe Cunningham, in November. (Mr. Cunningham, who was defeated by Ms. Mace in 2020, is hoping for a comeback this year with a bid to defeat incumbent governor, Henry McMaster.)

Republicans fear an Arrington victory on Tuesday could jeopardize the seat, which stretches from Charleston along South Carolina’s affluent coast.

The way of mr. Rice to victory on Tuesday will be considerably more difficult, but he remains defiant about his impeachment vote. “Defending the Constitution is a bedrock of the Republican platform. Defend the Constitution, and that’s what I did. That was the conservative voice,” he said in a June 5 interview on ABC’s “This Week,” adding, “There’s no doubt in my mind.”

California may have a bigger number of seats up for grabs, but no state is quite as up for grabs as Nevada. Three of the four seats in the state House have been judged on tossups – all three of which are now held by Democrats. Other tossup races include the Senate seat of Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat, and the governorship of Steve Sisolak, also a Democrat. A Republican move would do real damage not only to Democrats’ tight grip on Congress, but also to their chances in the 2024 presidential election when Nevada is close: It’s better to have the governor of a state on your side then on the other side.

But first, Republican voters must scour a large number of candidates vying for every position. Joe Lombardo, the Clark County sheriff in Las Vegas, is the favorite for the Republican nomination for Mr. Challenge Sisolak. He has Mr Trump’s backing and is repeating Mr Trump’s language in his pledge to “take back our state”.

Eight candidates are vying for Ms. Cortez Masto, but Adam Laxalt, the former Nevada attorney general who lost to Mr. Sisolak in 2018, is clearly ahead.

Representative Dina Titus, a Democrat, also has eight Republicans vying to challenge her, including a former member of the House, Cresent Hardy. But it is Carolina Serrano, a Colombian-American immigrant, who has the support of both Republican leaders and the Trump world, with approvals from New York Representative Elise Stefanik, the party’s No. 3 House, as well as Mr. Laxalt and Richard Grenell, a combative former national security official in the Trump administration.

Five Republicans hope to challenge Representative Susie Lee, a Democrat. Among them, April Becker, a real estate attorney, has raised by far the most money and the backing of House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, as well as Ms. Stefanik, Ms. Haley and Mr. Laxalt.

The potential GOP challengers of Representative Steven Horsford, a Democrat, are most clearly divided between the Trump fringe and the party’s mainstream. Sam Peters, an insurance agent, is backed by far-right Arizona congressmen Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs, both of whom have ties to extremist groups, as well as right-wing rocker Ted Nugent. Annie Black, an editing woman who ran against Mr. Peters struggles is more mainstream.

When Mr Vela decided to resign from the House rather than serve the remainder of his term, he most likely did not know how much was at stake in the special election to fill his seat for the remaining months of this year.

Republicans are trying to make a statement, pouring money into the traditionally Democratic district of Rio Grande Valley to support Mayra Flores. She has raised 16 times the amount recorded by her closest Democratic competitor, Dan Sanchez.

A Flores victory would be proclaimed by Republicans as a sign of worse future for Democrats in November.

The district, Texas’ 34th district, has been redrawn for the general election to be overwhelmingly Democratic. But Republicans hope the battlefield will shift just west, to the 15th district, which was drawn to be even dead.

Republicans back Monica de la Cruz for that race. If Tuesday’s special elections go their way, they could also invest heavily in the next seat to the west, the 28th district, where Representative Henry Cuellar, a long-standing moderate Democrat, appears to be narrowly ahead of his progressive challenger. Jessica Cisneros, who is looking for a recount in the wafer-thin drain.

The northeastern tip of the nation was not known for its tough politics until Paul LePage, a Trump-esque Republican who preceded Mr. Trump, won the governorship in 2010. In successive elections, Mr. LePage aided by the state’s tradition of producing and voting for independent candidates, siphoning enough votes from whoever his Democratic challenger was for him to win multiple times.

He retired from the governor’s office in 2018 and was succeeded by a Democrat, Governor Janet Mills, who wanted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. LePage had vetoed the expansion six times before it was passed by a voter referendum in 2017. Even then, he ignored the will of voters and refused to go through with the expansion. Absent, he said he would decide whether to challenge Ms. Mills, depending on whether she expands Medicaid in what he called a cost-effective way.

Now he’s looking to make a comeback, and he has no primary opponent to stop him.

In the north of the state is one of the country’s most endangered House Democrats, Jared Golden, who has repeatedly defied Democratic leadership to demonstrate his bona fide faith as a centrist. He was the only House Democrat to vote against President Biden’s far-reaching social safety net and climate change bill, Build Back Better, and he voted with Republicans last week against a series of Democratic gun control measures.

Republicans think they have Mr. Can beat Golden anyway. Bruce Poliquin, a former member of the House who defeated Mr. Golden by 3,509 votes in 2018, has raised a lot of money and now has more cash on hand than Mr. Golden. But Mr. Poliquin must first get past a primary challenger, Elizabeth Caruso, a local official in tiny Caratunk, Me.

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