If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be …

Seven States, D.C. Hold Primaries

Posted September 8, 2008 at 4:26pm

Today is the busiest primary day in three months, with several hot races on the docket. After today, only three more states have primaries scheduled. Here’s what’s on tap:

DELAWARE

Yawn!

Though there are interesting races for state offices on the ballot, there’s not much to talk about on the Congressional level. Three Democrats are competing for the right to be slaughtered by Rep. Mike Castle (R) in November, and Sen. Joseph Biden (D) already knows he’ll be taking on political consultant Christine O’Donnell (R). The real intrigue will come if Biden is elected vice president.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) has no primary opposition.

MINNESOTA

There’s a perception that Al Franken’s Senate candidacy is in some trouble. The first sign could be the results of today’s Democratic primary. Franken is almost certain to win, but if his margin is less than overwhelming, that could say something about his ability to compete with Sen. Norm Coleman (R) in the fall. Among Franken’s many primary opponents, attorney Priscilla Lord Faris is the most credible.

Republicans have a competitive primary in the 1st district between physician Brian Davis and state Sen. Dick Day. Davis was endorsed by state party officials in the spring, but Day is probably better-known. The winner faces freshman Rep. Tim Walz (D), whom Republicans would like to knock off but who appears, for now, to be safe.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Two Republican primaries to watch. In the 1st district, ex-Rep. Jeb Bradley and former state Health and Human Services Commissioner John Stephen are battling for the right to challenge freshman Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D), who ousted Bradley two years ago. Bradley bested Stephen in the GOP primary on his way to winning the seat in 2002, but some analysts believe that Stephen, the more conservative of the two, may prevail. Whoever wins, the general election should be highly competitive.

There’s a five-way Republican primary in the 2nd district; the winner will take on freshman Rep. Paul Hodes (D) in the fall. It appears to be a race between state Sen. Bob Clegg and radio host Jennifer Horn. Hodes will be favored in the fall regardless, but the general election race should be close.

NEW YORK

There’s primary action from Brooklyn to Buffalo.

10th district: Rep. Edolphus Towns (D) is fending off a vigorous challenge from author and community activist Kevin Powell (D). Powell, 42, is casting this race as a generational battle (Towns is 74) and has been chanting Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) change mantra with some effectiveness. But Towns, by virtue of his higher name recognition and fundraising prowess, should have the upper hand. Through Aug. 20 he had spent $928,000 on the race and still had $417,000 on hand. Powell had spent just $43,000 and had $57,000 left in the bank.

13th district: Both parties have primaries in the race to replace scandal-plagued Rep. Vito Fossella (R), and they’re interesting for different reasons. The Democratic establishment is behind New York Councilman Michael McMahon. But lawyer Steve Harrison, the underfunded and outgunned 2006 nominee, has been like a dog with a bone and won’t let go. McMahon should win, but Harrison’s percentage is worth monitoring.

The Republicans are in a mess. The primary favorite is former state Assemblyman Robert Straniere. But even though he’s got the blessing of the local GOP organization, most Republican leaders hate him. It’s hard to see him losing the primary, but he could, and most Republicans glumly concede that come November, the last Congressional seat in New York City that’s held by the GOP will be lost.

21st district: There’s a five-way Democratic primary in the race to replace retiring Rep. Mike McNulty (D), with the victor almost certain to win a ticket to Congress. Former state Assemblyman Paul Tonko is the best-known of the bunch, and is probably the favorite. But Albany County Legislator Phil Steck; Tracey Brooks, a former aide to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.); Darius Shahinfar, a former aide to Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) are all running vigorous campaigns. Schenectady County Legislator Jim Buhrmaster is favored over businessman Steven Vasquez in the Republican primary.

26th district: The hardest-fought and the hardest to predict of the state’s primaries is the Democratic scrum in this Buffalo/Rochester-area district, where Rep. Tom Reynolds (R) is retiring. Wealthy businessman Chris Lee (R) awaits the winner of the Democratic contest, which features Jack Davis, the multimillionaire factory owner who almost ousted Reynolds twice; Jon Powers, an Iraq War veteran who is the choice of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; and attorney Alice Kryzan, whose campaign’s profile has been elevated in recent weeks, particularly with the endorsement of former Buffalo-area Rep. John LaFalce (D).

Each of the Democrats has blemishes: Davis is a mercurial candidate who makes national party leaders uncomfortable; Powers has had to endure an array of embarrassing headlines about the nonprofit organization he ran after returning from Iraq; and Kryzan is best known in the Buffalo area for representing some of the defendants in the Love Canal toxic waste case.

Many analysts see this as a tossup district, though it leans Republican in most general elections. The Democrats will need to unify quickly after the primary if they are to have any chance of winning.

RHODE ISLAND

Sen. Jack Reed (D) faces nominal opposition, and Reps. Patrick Kennedy (D) and James Langevin (D) will learn the identities of their Republican challengers, but there’s nothing on tap today to hold anyone’s interest.

VERMONT

Rep. Peter Welch (D) faces nominal primary opposition and has no GOP challenger at all, though a few minor parties will be on the ballot.

WISCONSIN

There are a few Congressional primaries on the docket, but none that will greatly affect anything in the fall.