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Cheat Sheet: House and Senate Primaries in May

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Primary season for the midterms begins in earnest in May, when voters head to the polls for some of this cycle’s marquee House and Senate contests.  

By the end of next month , parties will know whether Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell survived a GOP primary in Kentucky (likely), whether Sen. Kay Hagan will face a top GOP opponent in North Carolina (increasingly likely), and whether Georgia Republicans are on track to get a choice nominee for Senate (probable, but who knows?).  

And that’s just the top of the ticket. There are several other primary contests further down the ballot.  

This is Roll Call’s one-stop shop for primaries in May, including top races, dates and poll closing times. Bookmark this post, and check out the At the Races blog for live results and commentary on every congressional primary next month.  


May 6

Indiana : The Hoosier State won’t play host to any high-stakes congressional primaries this cycle. Polls close at 7 p.m. EST.  

North Carolina : The Tar Heel State features this day’s most interesting primaries. Polls close at 7:30 p.m.

  • State Speaker Thom Tillis, the front-runner in a crowded GOP Senate primary, will see whether he gets the party’s nomination or must face a runoff in July.
  • Longtime Republican Rep. Walter B. Jones faces a primary challenge from political consultant Taylor Griffin.
  • The retirements of Reps. Howard Coble, a Republican, and Mike McIntyre, a Democrat, sparked two open-seat races, both of which feature competitive GOP primaries.
  • Former Rep. Melvin Watt’s appointment to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency prompted a crowded primary in the heavily Democratic 12th District.
  • “American Idol” runner-up Clay Aiken is battling former state Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd District. The race took a turn for the negative, when Crisco began airing an attack ad on Aiken’s attendance to a commission he was appointed to by then-President George W. Bush. Whomever emerges from that primary will be the underdog to take on GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers.

: There’s not much congressional primary action in the Buckeye State this cycle. Freshman Republican Rep. David Joyce faces a primary from state Rep. Matt Lynch in the 14th District. Speaker John A. Boehner also faces some minor opposition within his own party. Operatives on both sides expect these Republicans to cruise to primary victory. Polls close at 7:30 p.m.  


May 13

: There’s a competitive GOP primary for the open Senate seat in the Cornhusker State — and the results will likely to determine the state’s next senator. Midland University President Ben Sasse and former state Treasurer Shane Osborn are the two leading contenders fighting for the nomination . Last polls close at 9 p.m. EST.

West Virginia
: West Virginia will feature number of competitive races in 2014. But the open 2nd District contest to replace Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who is running for Senate, will host the most primary action. Former Maryland GOP Chair Alex Mooney is running a solid campaign  but faces a challenge from former U.S. International Trade Commissioner Charlotte Lane, among other Republicans. The winner from that primary will face likely Democratic nominee Nick Casey, the former West Virginia Democratic Party chair. The 2nd District race is rated a Leans Republican contest by Rothenberg political Report/Roll Call. Polls close at 7:30 p.m. EST.  


May 20

: There are two open House seats — in the 2nd and 4th districts   —  in the Land of Opportunity. In the primaries for both races, if candidates do not receive a majority of the vote, there will be a runoff on June 10. Polls close at 8:30 p.m. EST.

  • In the 2nd District, state Rep. Ann Clemmer and banker French Hill are vying for the GOP nomination. The winner will face the likely Democratic nominee, Patrick Henry Hays, the former mayor of North Little Rock whom Democrats tout as a top recruit.
  • In the 4th District, state House Majority Leader Bruce Westerman and energy executive Tommy Moll are seeking the GOP nomination. The winner of that contest will face the likely Democratic nominee, James Lee Witt, a former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Georgia : There are several wide-open primaries in the Peach State. Look for many of them to head to a July 22 runoff, which is triggered when no candidate receives at least a majority of the vote. Polls close at 7 p.m. EST.

  • Political observers will have their eyes on the competitive GOP primary for the open Senate seat — the results of which will determine how competitive this race will be in November. Three House members are vying for that Senate seat, creating three open and unpredictable House contests down ballot.
  • The races to replace Reps. Jack Kingston, Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey in the 1st, 10th and 11th districts, respectively, are some of the hardest races to handicap on the entire midterm map this cycle. At least six candidates are vying for the GOP nomination in each of these safe Republican seats, including the son of a former congressman and former Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga. None of the candidates are raising very much money. And due to the large number of candidates in each contest, built-in geographical bases are often diluted. Runoffs are almost assured in each of the three primaries, and political operatives can give a scenario for any of the nearly two-dozen candidates running in these three races to advance.
  • A handful of Republicans are also running for the chance to take on Democratic Rep. John Barrow in the 12th District.
  • popular sheriff is trying to oust Rep. Hank Johnson in a Democratic primary in the 4th District.

Idaho : One of the marquee battles between the tea party and business-oriented Republican  groups will take place here on primary day, when attorney Bryan Smith and Rep. Mike Simpson face off . Last polls close at 11 p.m. EST.

Kentucky : Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s primary with businessman Matt Bevin has garnered a bevy of media attention. While McConnell has faced a spirited challenge from Bevin, the minority leader is expected to win on primary day. Last polls close at 7 p.m. EST.  

Oregon : A competitive GOP Senate primary will take place in the Beaver State, with a number of candidates, including surgeon Monica Wehby and state Rep. Jason Conger. They both hope to challenge Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley. Last polls close at 11 p.m. EST.

: A competitive Democratic gubernatorial primary will probably overshadow any federal races in the Keystone State. But House race junkies should keep an eye on the Democratic primary in the 13th District . This primary, which features former Rep. Marjorie Margolies and three other Democrats, will likely determine the next member of Congress from this heavily Democratic district, located in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs. Polls close at 8 p.m. EST.  


May 27

Texas : There are two primary runoffs to watch in the Lone Star State. Last polls close at 9 p.m. EST.

  • Former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe will face longtime GOP Rep. Ralph M. Hall
    in a runoff after no candidate received enough support in the March primary. Hall, who turns 91 on May 3, received a boost following the primary from his colleagues. The Texas Delegation is 
    rallying to help him
    win one final term in Congress. But with outside groups such as the Club for Growth supporting Ratcliffe, Hall could get upset.
  • In the 23rd District, former Rep.  Francisco “Quico” Canseco faces former CIA officer Will Hurd in a runoff. Both are looking to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Pete Gallego. The general election contest is rated Democrat Favored by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

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