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Scene Set for Kentucky, Arkansas Primaries

Bluegrass State’s 4th District Republican Contest Will Pit the Establishment Against the Tea Party

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Democrats in Arkansas see the race with freshman GOP Rep. Rick Crawford as their best — and probably only — chance to flip a seat in the state.

Voters go to the polls today in Arkansas and Kentucky to select their party’s nominees for Congress.

The most interesting race is in the Bluegrass State’s 4th district, where the establishment and the tea party have a lot on the line. Sen. Rand Paul (R) has endorsed one candidate, while retiring Rep. Geoff Davis (R) and former Sen. Jim Bunning (R) have endorsed another.

Also on the ballot in Kentucky is a GOP primary to pick the nominee to take on Rep. Ben Chandler (D) in the competitive 6th district. Attorney Andy Barr, the 2010 nominee, is just about certain to win that.

On tap in Arkansas are contests to determine the nominees in the open 4th district and the Democrat who will take on freshman Rep. Rick Crawford (R) in the 1st district.

There’s only one Democrat on the ballot in the state’s 2nd district, and he is likely to get crushed by freshman Rep. Tim Griffin (R) in November.

The top vote-getter in Kentucky wins the nomination outright. The cutoff to avoid a runoff in Arkansas is more than 50 percent.

If no candidate can garner more than half of the votes cast, the top two finishers will battle it out in a June 12 runoff.

Polls in Kentucky are open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time. Polls in Arkansas are open 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. CDT.

1st district

Democrats in the Razorback State see the race with Crawford as their best — and probably only — chance to flip a seat in this state, which had just one Republican in the federal delegation as recently as last Congress. The Democratic primary pits frontrunner state Rep. Clark Hall against local prosecutor Scott Ellington and Arkansas State University professor Gary Latanich.

The big question local Democrats are pondering: Can Hall avoid a runoff? He has been up on television in the district with a fun, endearing biography spot, and he’s seen as having momentum on his side. But with a finicky primary electorate, insiders are split on what the outcome will be.

Still, strategists expect Ellington to come in second and Latanich to place third.

Hall, who put $50,000 of his own money into his campaign May 9, is seen as having a stronger shot at Crawford if he can avoid a runoff.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is expected to play here in the general election.

Roll Call rates the race as Leans Republican.

4th district

If you don’t know Tom Cotton’s name, you will soon. A rising GOP star, Cotton’s sparkling biography and fundraising prowess is likely to carry him to Congress.

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