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Megachurches Prove Mega-Influential in GOP Primaries

Collins, left, is a Georgia Republican and former senior pastor at his church. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The influence of religious conservatives might be waning nationwide, but the movement only stands to grow in Congress.  

Already this year, three candidates with close ties to massive churches won decisive Republican primaries. A fourth — Pastor Jody Hice — could win a Tuesday GOP primary runoff in Georgia and come to Congress in November.  

Alabama Runoff Results: Gary Palmer Wins Republican Nomination (Video)

Bachus, right, is not seeking re-election. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Conservative activist Gary Palmer defeated state Rep. Paul DeMarco Tuesday to win the GOP nomination in Alabama's 6th District.  

Palmer defeated DeMarco, 62 percent to 38 percent, with 50 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press.  

Club for Growth Gets Second Chance in Alabama Race

Chris Chocola is president of the Club for Growth. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A six-week mulligan for the Club for Growth ends on July 15, when voters will pick a GOP nominee in Alabama's 6th District runoff.  

After the club's preferred candidate did not advance to the runoff, it regrouped by endorsing the second-place primary finisher, conservative activist Gary Palmer. And this time, GOP operatives in the state said the club's spending could be enough to propel Palmer to victory over his foe, state Rep. Paul DeMarco, in the race to succeed retiring Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus.  

Primary Results: New Jersey, Alabama House Races

Runyan is retiring from Congress, leaving a competitive race for his seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:18 p.m. |  Former Randolph Mayor Tom MacArthur won the GOP nomination to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Jon Runyan in New Jersey, relieving Republicans of a candidate who could have lost the seat for them this fall.  

MacArthur defeated that candidate, ex-Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, carrying 60 percent of the vote when The Associated Press called the race. Lonegan had 40 percent, with 41 percent precincts reporting.  

Primary Preview: 7 Things to Watch on Tuesday

Cochran and his staff make their way to their bus after a tour of City Hall in Olive Branch, Miss. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Tuesday is the busiest primary night of 2014, with voters heading to the polls in Alabama, California, Mississippi, Iowa, New Jersey, Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota.  

It's a big night, with the tea party's last chance to save face in the Mississippi Republican Senate primary, a close contest in Iowa's Republican Senate primary , plus highly competitive House races in California, New Jersey, Iowa and Alabama.  

Cheat Sheet: House and Senate Primaries in June

McDaniel is challenging Cochran in the June primary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After a relatively unsurprising  series of primaries this month , June brings another collection of intraparty contests. More than half  of the states will have selected their nominees by the end of the month. Republicans will pick nominees in key Senate races in Mississippi , Iowa and South Dakota. Down the ballot, House primaries in several open seats will likely determine the future members of Congress from both parties.  

Here is Roll Call’s comprehensive look at watch to watch in June. Bookmark this page, and check out our primary map for results from past primaries. June 3 With primaries in eight states, this date marks the busiest night of the cycle.  

Alabama Candidate Makes Fun of His Cooking in New Ad

Five days before the primary, surgeon Chad Mathis has released a positive spot in an open Alabama House race that features his kids playfully making fun of his cooking.  

"Dad's not a great cook, but he'd be a great congressman," said Mathis' daughter, Abby, in the ad — her name written in font similar to the widely-ridiculed Comic Sans. Mathis' campaign says the ad is a five-figure digital buy and will air online as preroll on YouTube videos.  

Club for Growth Launches Ad in Open Alabama House Race

The Club for Growth is up with an ad attacking an Alabama Republican primary hopeful for his donations to "liberal Democrats in Congress."  

The 30-second spot says businessman Will Brooke , one of seven Republicans running in the 6th District open-seat race, donated "tens of thousands of dollars" to a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Alabama and that his company helped pass tax increases in the state.  

Internal Poll: GOP Primary Wide Open in Alabama Race

A new internal poll shows the crowded primary in Alabama's open 6th District is wide open less than two months before the primary, according to information provided first to CQ Roll Call.  

The poll, conducted for GOP surgeon Chad Mathis' campaign, found two of the six candidates in a statistical dead heat, with the third- and fourth-place contenders not far behind, and a large portion of respondents remain undecided. In the automated telephone  survey, Mathis and state Rep. Paul DeMarco received 16 percent and 15 percent of the vote, respectively. The poll had a margin of error of 4.6 percent.