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Primary takeaways: Family ties, Capitol conflict and rhyme time

Primaries held in Maryland, Nebraska and West Virginia

Former Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn speaks to supporters after conceding his loss in the Democratic primary in Maryland’s 3rd District in Ellicott City, Md., on Tuesday.
Former Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn speaks to supporters after conceding his loss in the Democratic primary in Maryland’s 3rd District in Ellicott City, Md., on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Neither of the two House candidates who were on opposite sides of the Jan. 6 insurrection will be returning to the Capitol as members in 2025. 

But a senator’s nephew could be — even though the same senator’s son, along with the son of a House colleague from the same state, lost a primary for governor. The wife of a former House member, meanwhile, won the nomination to run for his old seat. And a vulnerable House member and two incumbent senators won primaries even though their state’s party organization did not endorse them.

Those are some of the results from primaries Tuesday in Maryland, Nebraska and West Virginia, and a runoff in North Carolina that was really over before it began. Here’s a rundown:

Echoes of Capitol conflict

In West Virginia’s 1st District, Republican primary voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly backed incumbent Rep. Carol Miller over challenger Derrick Evans, who served three months in federal prison for his involvement in the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by Donald Trump supporters.

Still, Evans got 37 percent of the vote in the two-person contest, which was actually a greater percentage than former Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn got in a Democratic primary in Maryland’s 3rd District. In a field of 22 candidates, Dunn got about a quarter of the vote, and finished second to state Sen. Sarah Elfreth for the nomination to replace retiring Rep. John Sarbanes.

Dunn gained a national following after he spoke out about his experience defending the Capitol on Jan. 6, including in a best-selling book. That helped him to raise $4.6 million as of April 24, far more than anyone else in the field, including Elfreth, who raised $1.5 million. 

But outside groups ran ads on Elfreth’s behalf, which helped close the gap on the airwaves. United Democracy Project, the independent expenditure arm of the American Israel Public Affairs Council, spent $4.2 million to boost Elfreth, the youngest woman ever elected to the Maryland state Senate.

“As we move forward, it is more important than ever to unite behind our shared vision for progress and justice. I remain committed to supporting the Democratic nominee and working tirelessly to secure our district for the values we hold dear,” Dunn said in conceding the race.

Bacon cruises

Nebraska GOP Rep. Don Bacon will face a rematch with Democrat Tony Vargas after Bacon dispatched with Republican challenger Dan Frei in Tuesday’s primary in the always-competitive 2nd District.

Frei had been backed by the Nebraska state GOP, which also backed challengers to the state’s two senators, Deb Fischer and Pete Ricketts. Each won renomination with at least 79 percent of the vote, Fischer for another six-year term and Ricketts for the remaining two years of the term of former Sen. Ben Sasse, whose seat he was appointed to fill in January 2023.

Bacon’s race is rated Tilt Republican by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzalez. And the Nebraska Freedom Coalition in a tweet Tuesday night continued to urge voters to “not vote for this loser in November.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition’s national chairman, former Sen. Norm Coleman, and coalition CEO Matt Brooks hailed Bacon’s victory along with that of Miller, saying primary voters “rejected extremist candidates.”

“Let there be no doubt: if you don’t stand with the Jewish community, if you don’t stand with Israel, the RJC will work to defeat you,” Brooks and Coleman said in their joint statement.

Not all in the family

Tuesday brought mixed results for the relatives of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., in the state’s Republican primaries. The senator wasn’t on the ballot this year, but her son Moore Capito came up short in his bid to win the Republican nomination for governor. He finished second, more than 5 points behind Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Car dealership owner Chris Miller, the son of Rep. Carol Miller, took third place.

The senator’s nephew, however, had a better night. Riley Moore won the Republican nomination for the 2nd District House seat, which was open because incumbent GOP Rep. Alex X. Mooney opted to run for the Senate.

Mooney did not prevail there, with Gov. Jim Justice winning the Republican nomination and putting himself on the path to picking up the Mountain State’s Senate seat held by the retiring Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III. Inside Elections has that race in the Solid Republican column.

There were also family ties in Maryland, where Democrat April McClain Delaney, a former Department of Commerce official, won the Democratic nomination in the 6th District, leading a crowded ballot with 16 candidates, although some of those candidates dropped out before the election.

McClain Delaney’s husband, John Delaney, previously represented the district, and she was endorsed by former Speaker Nancy Pelosi as well as Maryland Reps. Steny H. Hoyer, Jamie Raskin and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger. 

If elected, she would succeed Rep. David Trone, who gave up the seat for a Senate run he lost to Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. Trone had succeeded Delaney, who ran for president in 2020. 

McClain Delaney will face Republican Neil Parrott, the 2020 and 2022 GOP nominee in the district, who is a former member of Maryland’s House of Delegates. That race is rated Likely Democratic.

No surprises here

In Maryland’s other open seat, Baltimore County Executive John “Johnny O” Olszewski won about 78 percent of the vote in a six-candidate field for the 2nd District Democratic nomination. The incumbent Ruppersperger is retiring, and Inside Elections rates the race Solid Democratic.

And in North Carolina’s 13th District, Republican Brad Knott got more than 90 percent of the vote in a primary runoff against attorney Kelly Daughtry. Daughtry had finished first in the March 5 primary but did not clear the 30 percent threshold for the nomination. She dropped out of the race last month and endorsed Knott after he got Trump’s endorsement, but her name remained on the ballot.

Blood v. Flood matchup

Elsewhere in Nebraska, there will be rhyming candidates on the ballot in November. Democrat Carol Blood won the uncontested Democratic nomination in the 1st District and will challenge Republican Rep. Mike Flood. Flood, who is in his second term, beat GOP opponent Michael Connely 81 percent to 19 percent. 

Blood, a member of the state’s unicameral legislature who was the Democrats’ 2022 nominee for governor, accuses Flood on her campaign website of forgetting “his nonpartisan roots.”

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