Critical primaries in four states on Tuesday loom large for fall elections

Voters in four states on Tuesday will head to the polls to choose which candidates in a slate of congressional and state primaries will battle it out in contentious races this fall.

The results of close races in Nevada and Maine could determine which party controls the House and Senate next year and with it significant power over the agenda for the 2024 White House winner. Contests in South Carolina and North Dakota are almost certain to decide the general election winner in heavily Republican areas.

Here’s a look at some of the most competitive and influential races to watch across the country on Tuesday.

South Carolina

Republican Rep. Nancy Mace faces a competitive primary challenge for South Carolina’s 1st congressional district from former state cabinet official Catherine Templeton. The race is shaping up to be a proxy fight between former President Donald Trump’s MAGA wing of the Republican party and establishment conservatives.

It also features one of the nearly 20 Republicans who have been mentioned as possible Trump vice presidential picks.

Mace has received criticism from members of the GOP for voting with seven other House Republicans in 2023 to oust then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. McCarthy had backed Mace when she initially ran for Congress in 2020, but the Charleston-area Republican lawmaker argued that McCarthy had not kept his promises.

American Prosperity Alliance, a group aligned with McCarthy, ran an ad against Mace in the race. And McCarthy’s political action committee, Majority Committee PAC, has donated $10,000 to Templeton’s campaign.

Templeton, who served as head of the state health and environment department under then-Gov. Nikki Haley, has received endorsements from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C.

Mace, meanwhile, received the backing of Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson. But it’s unclear how far Trump’s support will go in her coastal district. While the ex-president won the South Carolina GOP presidential primary, he lost the 1st District to Haley by more than 20 points.

Polling from the end of May showed Mace with a double-digit lead over Templeton. However, if she doesn’t garner 50% or more of the vote on Tuesday, the race will head to a runoff.


The balance of power in the U.S. Senate hangs on a handful of key races in November, including for first-term Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen’s Nevada seat.

Democrats currently hold a narrow 51-49 majority in the upper chamber but races like Rosen’s are ripe for Republican upsets.

Rosen is favored to win her primary on Tuesday against program manager Troy Walker and former California tax official Mike Schaefer.

In the GOP race, retired U.S. Army Capt. Sam Brown is facing off against Jeff Gunter, the former ambassador to Iceland during the Trump administration and former Nevada state Rep. Jim Marchant.

Trump on Sunday posted on Truth Social an endorsement for Brown, a move that drew raised eyebrows because the former president didn’t make the announcement in person while campaigning in Las Vegas during a rally that same day. The National Republican Senatorial Committee and Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo have also backed Brown.

Nevada’s primaries will also tee up a slew of competitive House races.

Seven Republicans are running to compete against third-term Democratic Rep. Susie Lee in the 3rd District, bordering California at the southern tip of the state. Nevada State Treasurer Daniel Schwartz is among the most notable candidates in the race. His opponents include former state Sen. Elizabeth Helgelien, policy analyst Drew Johnson and composer Marty O’Donnell.

Directly north, Air Force veteran David Flippo is facing off against North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee for the GOP nomination in the 4th District. Lee, a former Democrat who switched parties in 2022, has received endorsements from Trump and Lombardo. Whoever wins the Republican matchup will face third-term Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford.


Two Republicans are vying to take on third-term Democratic Rep. Jared Golden in Maine’s 1st District, encompassing the northern half of the state. Golden is one of just five Democrats in Congress who hold districts that Trump won in the 2020 election.

The Cook Political Report has rated the November race as a toss-up.

Feb 18, 2017; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; ARCA Series driver Austin Theriault (52) celebrates winning the Lucas Oil Complete Engine Treatment 200 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY SportsFeb 18, 2017; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; ARCA Series driver Austin Theriault (52) celebrates winning the Lucas Oil Complete Engine Treatment 200 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Feb 18, 2017; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; ARCA Series driver Austin Theriault (52) celebrates winning the Lucas Oil Complete Engine Treatment 200 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The GOP candidates, Austin Theriault and Mike Soboleski, are both first-term state lawmakers. Theriault, a 30-year-old former NASCAR driver, has received endorsements from Trump and House Speaker Johnson. He is favored to win the Republican primary.

North Dakota

One of the biggest decisions North Dakota voters must confront on Tuesday isn’t about who is running, but about who can appear on the ballot in the state. Voters will decide on a controversial ballot measure that would set an age limit for congressional candidates. If passed, the measure would prevent people who would reach the age of 81 by their last year in office from running.

Meanwhile, GOP contests for governor and a U.S. House seat are all but certain to decide the general election winners in the deep red state.

Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., is running against Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller for governor, after current Republican Gov. Doug Burgum – another Trump vice presidential prospect – announced he would not seek a third term in office. Armstrong has the support of the state’s Republican Party, while Miller garnered Burgum’s endorsement.

Five Republicans are clamoring to take Armstrong’s open House seat, including former state Rep. Rick Becker, veteran Alex Balazs, Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak and former Miss America winner Cara Mund. Balazs won the state party endorsement.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Critical primaries in 4 states Tuesday could loom large for November

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