Early returns Tuesday evening from primary elections in eight states set the stage for a couple of key House battles in New Jersey and a race for an open Senate seat in South Dakota, while Republican Sen. Thad Cochran in Mississippi was in the fight for his political life against tea-party challenger Chris McDaniel.
A number of other contests in Alabama and New Jersey were playing out as expected, but results from primaries in California, Iowa, Montana, and New Mexico had not yet started to trickle in by 10 p.m. Eastern time.
With less than half the vote counted in Mississippi’s Republican primary, Cochran had 50.6 percent while McDaniel had 47.8 percent. Cochran, 76, is seeking his seventh term in the Senate.
Former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds easily won a five-way Republican primary Tuesday for the right to take on Democratic business owner Rick Weiland and two independents on Nov. 4 for the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Tim Johnson, the Senate Banking Committee chairman who is retiring after five terms in the House and three terms in the Senate.
Thunderstorms forced Rounds to cancel his travel plans as voters went to the polls Tuesday, but the bad weather didn’t affect the results — Rounds was heavily favored over state Sen. Larry Rhoden, state Rep. Stace Nelson, and two other GOP candidates in the primary.
In New Jersey, candidates were selected Tuesday for November races to replace retiring Reps. Jon Runyan, a Republican, and Rush Holt, a Democrat.
County official Aimee Belgard will be the Democrats’ hope for flipping Runyan’s 3rd District seat in South Jersey against Republican Tom MacArthur, a former mayor who crushed another former mayor, Steve Lonegan, in a tough primary. Belgard, who had the backing of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, easily bested two other candidates in her primary.
State Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman will be the favorite to keep Rush’s central New Jersey seat in Democratic hands after besting state Sen. Linda Greenstein, Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, and physicist Andrew Zwicker in Tuesday’s primary. Watson Coleman will face Republican Alieta Eck, a physician, in November.
Also in New Jersey, Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat who won a special election last year to finish the term of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, was waiting until late Tuesday night to find out his opponent this fall in a race for a full, six-year term. Conservative Richard Pezzullo, establishment Republican Brian Goldberg, and economic researcher Jeff Bell were in a close race in the GOP primary with about two-thirds of the vote counted Tuesday. Booker will be heavily favored over either Republican, though.
In Alabama, state Rep. Paul DeMarco was leading a seven-candidate field in the Republican primary for the seat being vacated in January by GOP Rep. Spencer Bachus. State Sen. Scott Beason and think-tank cofounder Gary Palmer were both running about 15 points behind with about a third of the vote counted. The winner will be favored over Democratic businessman Avery Vise in November.
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"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”
The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.
President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."
Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.