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Ohio vacancy, challenges to Timmons and Mace top Tuesday’s races

Elections on tap in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina and Ohio's 6th District

Reps. William R. Timmons IV and Nancy Mace face competitive challengers in Tuesday's Republican primaries in South Carolina.
Reps. William R. Timmons IV and Nancy Mace face competitive challengers in Tuesday's Republican primaries in South Carolina. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photos)

A vacant House seat in a heavily Republican Ohio district and primary challenges to two House Republicans in South Carolina highlight elections in five states on Tuesday.

North Dakota will choose nominees for its sole House seat, which is open because Rep. Kelly Armstrong is running for the GOP nomination for governor. Nevada will set matchups for three House races and a Senate contest that will all be on the November battleground. And Maine Republicans will pick a challenger to a House Democrat the party has repeatedly tried to oust without success.

Here are snapshots of the races to watch.

Johnson replacement to be picked

Republican state Sen. Michael Rulli’s win in the March 19 special primary made him the heavy favorite in Tuesday’s special election in Ohio’s 6th District to succeed former Rep. Bill Johnson, who resigned Jan. 21 to become president of Youngstown State University.

In the election to serve the remainder of Johnson’s term, Rulli, a two-term state senator who works as an executive in his family’s grocery store chain, faces Democrat Michael Kripchak, an Air Force veteran whose campaign biography page says he moved to Los Angeles to work as an actor and writer, then founded a company before moving back home to Ohio to help his parents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Independent Christopher Lafont is also running.

In the most recent fundraising report covering April 1 through May 22, Kripchak raised $17,000 while Rulli took in $69,000, of which 73 percent came from political action committees — a sign corporations and trade associations are betting on him having a vote in this Congress. 

Voters in the 6th District as it is now configured backed Donald Trump over Joe Biden by 29 percentage points in 2020, according to Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. Inside Elections rates the November race for a full term — which will also pit Rulli against Kripchak — as Solid Republican. 

Mace challenge follows vote against McCarthy

The Republican contest in South Carolina’s coastal 1st District has drawn national attention and an influx of outside spending.

Rep. Nancy Mace, who flipped a Democrat-held seat in 2020 and handily won reelection two years later, faces a challenge from Catherine Templeton, the former director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Marine Corps veteran Bill Young is also on the GOP ballot.

Mace has cultivated a national profile for her mercurial brand of politics and was one of eight House Republicans who voted to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy last year. Former President Donald Trump is backing Mace while McCarthy is supporting Templeton. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., also endorsed Templeton, her campaign announced Tuesday.

Outside groups have spent $5.3 million to help Templeton, while others spent $2.6 million to help Mace.

Templeton’s backers include $3.8 million from South Carolina Patriots PAC, a super PAC that reported most of its money coming from another super PAC that has not disclosed most of its donors. She also benefited from $652,000 spent by WFW PAC, which backs Republican women running for Congress.

Outside spending to support Mace included $1 million by Club for Growth Action and another $1.5 million by Win It Back PAC, a group whose top donors include Club for Growth Action. 

The district is the state’s most moderate. Inside Elections rates the race Likely Republican.

The winner of the Republican contest will face the winner of the Democratic race, which features Michael B. Moore, a business executive, and attorney Mac Deford.

Timmons attacked for not bucking leadership

Republican divisions in Congress have spilled into South Carolina’s 4th District. Rep. William R. Timmons IV, a conservative Republican seeking a fourth term, faces a primary challenge from the right. 

State Rep. Adam Morgan says Timmons has been unwilling to buck party leadership, including McCarthy. Morgan was endorsed by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.

Timmons is no liberal. He has the backing of Trump as well as conservative Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Jim Jordan of Ohio and Byron Donalds of Florida. He says Morgan has been lying about his record.

Timmons has raised more than $2.4 million since the start of the election cycle to Morgan’s $578,000. Defend American Jobs, a super PAC affiliated with the cryptocurrency industry, has spent $1.9 million in support of Timmons, while the American Principles Project, a conservative PAC, spent $274,000 on ads backing Morgan.

The race in the upstate district that includes Greenville and Spartanburg is rated Solid Republican by Inside Elections.

Duncan seat draws GOP crowd

A deep-red open seat in South Carolina’s 3rd District has drawn a crowd of Republicans, including psychiatric nurse practitioner Sheri Biggs; Kevin Bishop, a former aide to Sen. Lindsey Graham; state Rep. Stewart Jones and pastor and motivational speaker Mark Burns.

Partly because of a $315,000 personal loan, Biggs led the field in fundraising with $528,000 in receipts since the start of the election cycle. Burns, who was endorsed by Trump, followed with $516,000, of which $500,000 came from a personal loan. 

Jones brought in $217,000 and Bishop, who got his start in politics working as a page to Sen. Strom Thurmond in 1988, brought in $181,000. They each also put in their own money, loaning their campaigns $20,000 and $50,000, respectively.

Republicans Francois Franco, Philip Healy and Elspeth Murday are also on the ballot.

Two candidates — Bryon Best, the manager of a Sherwin-Williams store, and Frances Guldner, who taught high school science for more than 20 years — are competing in the Democratic primary.

The seat has been held since 2011 by Republican Rep. Jeff Duncan, who routinely won with 70 percent of the vote. Duncan said in January he would not seek reelection. Inside Elections rates the November race as Solid Republican.  

Targeted Nevada Democrats to get GOP opponents

In the 1st District, Democratic Rep. Dina Titus likely faces a rematch in November against either Republican Mark Robertson — who she defeated by 5.6 percent in 2022 — or against restaurant owner Flemming Larsen, who had an unsuccessful bid for state assembly last cycle. Larsen has loaned his campaign $1.5 million, which is more than the $1.2 million Titus has raised through May 22.

Republican candidate Flemming Larsen drives his antique fire truck away after spending the day speaking to attendees at his booth at a barbecue in Boulder City, Nev., on May 25. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Robertson has the benefit of the name ID from the 2022 race, but he has only raised a little more than $100,000 in campaign contributions. The third candidate on the ballot is comedian Michael Boris. Inside Elections rates the race Likely Democratic.

Perhaps the least predictable Nevada primary contest is in the 3rd District Republican primary for the nomination to face Democratic Rep. Susie Lee, where a multicandidate field could yield a surprise result — particularly if Election Day turnout is low.

Marty O’Donnell, a first-time candidate who made millions composing jingles and music for video games including the Halo franchise, may be the front-runner. He has put in $1.2 million of his own money.

Former state Treasurer Dan Schwartz, a perennial candidate, has loaned himself $900,000, and other candidates include former Clark County Commission candidate Drew Johnson and former state Sen. Elizabeth Helgelien.

In the 4th District, there’s a two-man race to try to take on Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford.

John Lee, the former mayor of the city of North Las Vegas who is a former Democrat, has won Trump’s endorsement. That likely gives him an advantage over retired Air Force Lt. Col. David Flippo. Flippo’s won endorsements from several conservative House members, including Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.

Neither has the war chest of Horsford, who had almost $1.9 million in cash on hand on May 22. The races in all three House districts are rated Likely Democratic by Inside Elections.

Brown gets Trump backing to face Rosen

Sen. Jacky Rosen’s bid for a second term, however, has a rating of Tilt Democratic, one notch away from Toss-up. 

On the Republican side, retired Army Capt. Sam Brown was an outsider candidate last cycle, going up against a Republican heavyweight in the Nevada Senate primary. This time, he is the favorite in a 13-candidate field — and he got a boost from Trump on Sunday.

“Sam Brown is a FEARLESS AMERICAN PATRIOT, a Purple Heart Recipient, who has proven he has the ‘PURE GRIT’ and COURAGE to take on our Enemies, both Foreign and Domestic,” the former president wrote on social media. “Sam has already proven his Love for our Country, being horrifically wounded, and making the Comeback of a Lifetime. Sam Brown has my Complete and Total Endorsement – HE WILL NEVER LET YOU DOWN!”

The challenger to Brown making the most noise is Jeff Gunter, who was ambassador to Iceland in the Trump administration and who had been unabashed in seeking the former president’s blessing.

A Noble Predictive Insights poll released Friday had Brown lapping the field with 50-percent support, though Gunter’s operation has shown internal polling claiming the race is a dead heat.

Two vie to challenge Golden

Republicans are hopeful this is the year they’ll defeat Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat who has carved out a distinct profile in a district that Trump won in 2016 and 2020. 

Two Republicans in the 2nd District are vying for the nomination to challenge him.

Austin Theriault, a former NASCAR driver and state representative, is backed by national Republicans and is touting an endorsement from Trump. The GOP hopes the 30-year-old from the northernmost part of Maine will provide a strong contrast to Golden, who has been on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s target list since he was first elected in 2018. 

Theriault faces fellow state Rep. Mike Soboleski, a former actor who according to his campaign website had roles on more than 50 television shows, including recurring roles on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Third Watch.” 

Theriault has raised $1.2 million as of May 22 and had $581,000 on hand, while Soboleski raised $117,000 and had $28,000 on hand. 

But Golden has amassed a war chest. He raised $3.7 million and had $2.4 million on hand on May 22. 

Outside groups have already begun spending in the district. The Congressional Leadership Fund spent $50,000 on digital ads to support Theriault and a group called Pole Position PAC spent $75,000 on direct mail and text messaging. American Veterans Support Group PAC has spent $13,000 supporting Golden.

Inside Elections rates the race as Lean Democratic. 

One of Maine’s Senate seats is also up this year, but incumbent Sen. Angus King is not on the primary ballot because he is an independent who caucuses with Democrats. 

There is a Democratic candidate running unopposed in the primary, however. David Costello, a consultant running on a “government reform” platform, is unopposed. 

Republican Demi Kouzounas, a former chair of the state Republican party, is the sole Republican running.

Maine had a competitive Senate race in 2020, when Sen. Susan Collins last sought reelection, but this year’s race isn’t shaping up to be competitive. King had $2.8 million on hand as of May 22, while Kouzounas had $245,000 and Costello had $59,000.

Armstrong run for governor leaves House seat open

Rep. Kelly Armstrong’s gubernatorial run opens up a race for North Dakota’s at-large House seat, for which five Republicans are running. 

North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak and former state Rep. Rick Becker are the top fundraisers and the front-runners, according to a recent poll. Fedorchak raised $979,000 and had $348,000 on hand as of May 22, while Becker raised $911,000 and had $359,000 on hand for the final weeks of the campaign. Becker’s total includes a $550,000 personal loan he made to the campaign. 

Military veteran Alex Balazs raised $113,000, including a $106,000 personal loan, and had $48,000 on hand, while lawyer and former Miss America Cara Mund had $30,000 on hand. 

A fifth candidate, Sharlet Mohr, didn’t report any fundraising to the Federal Election Commission. 

Two Democrats, Marine Corps veteran and former teacher Trygve Hammer and frequent candidate Roland Riemers are running. Hammer raised $388,000 and had $141,000 on hand as of May 22. Riemers also didn’t report raising any money.

If elected, Fedorchak, Mund or Mohr would be the first woman elected to the House from North Dakota. Two women have previously represented the state in the Senate.

Armstrong is the favorite for the governor’s mansion, currently held by Republican Doug Burgum, who decided not to seek a third term and is reportedly on the short list to be Trump’s vice president candidate. Armstrong faces Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller in the primary Tuesday. Merrill Piepkorn is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

John T. Bennett contributed to this report.

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