Voters in five states — Virginia, Nevada, Maine, North Dakota, and South Carolina — will head to the polls for the next slate of primaries on June 12.
Tuesday’s elections include key Senate races in Nevada and North Dakota. The governor’s mansion is opening up in Maine, and the state is testing out a brand new ranked-voting system.
There’s also one other contest on the agenda: a special election in Wisconsin for two state legislative races. It’s shaping up to be another test of Democratic momentum.
Here’s what to know about the June 12 primary and special elections:
Polls close: 8 pm Eastern
The governor’s race is the headliner of Tuesday’s primaries, with both Republicans and Democrats vying to replace outgoing Republican Gov. Paul LePage. Medicaid is the big issue in this race: The Democratic candidates all vow they will expand it in Maine, while all Republicans oppose it. Maine voters approved a referendum to expand Medicaid last year, which LePage blocked — which is why Democrats see the state as a prime pickup for the fall.
Janet Mills, the state’s attorney general, is seen as the Democratic frontrunner; business executive Shawn Moody is ahead in the Republican field. But both have viable challengers, and Maine’s new ranked-voting system makes Tuesday’s election a bit more unpredictable.
Polls close: 7 pm Pacific
Republican Sen. Dean Heller is up for reelection in 2018. Senate Democrats, who face a tough electoral map in the midterms, see Nevada as a rare opportunity to flip a seat blue since Hillary Clinton won the state in 2016. Tuesday’s primary will determine which Democrat gets to take on Heller. The current frontrunner is Rep. Jacky Rosen, which means her House seat is also open in the Third Congressional District.
There’s also an open governorship up for grabs in the Silver State, with Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, at the end of this term. Democrats have been locked out of the governor’s mansion for two decades, but the party is hoping the state’s leftward shift might give them a better chance at the statehouse.
The Republican and Democratic fields are both very, very crowded, but a few frontrunners have emerged. Clark County Commissioners Steve Sisolak and Christina Giunchigliani lead a pack of Democrats, and Republican Adam Laxalt, the attorney general and immigration hardliner, is expected to get the GOP nomination.
Polls close: Starting at 7 pm Central time, but some won’t close until 9 pm
North Dakota’s incumbent Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp faces a very tough reelection in the 2018 midterms. She’ll likely face Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer in the general — he’s almost guaranteed to be his party’s nominee.
Polls close: 7 pm Eastern
Trump-endorsed current Republican Gov. Henry McMaster is the frontrunner in the GOP gubernatorial primary, though he’s facing a decent challenge from the former state secretary of labor and attorney Catherine Templeton — which means the race might head to a runoff. Three people are running for the Democratic ticket, including state Rep. James Smith, the likely frontrunner.
There’s also a congressional race in South Carolina’s First District and another in the Fifth. The First features incumbent (and former governor) Republican Rep. Mark Sanford, who faces a real primary challenger in state Rep. Katie Arrington. Arrington is challenging Sanford from the right, attacking him for his criticism of President Trump.
Polls close: 7 pm Eastern
Virginia is critical to Democrats’ hopes to retake the House in 2018, and Tuesday’s primaries will determine which candidates are fighting for those seats in November. There are four congressional races to watch in Virginia’s Second, Fifth, Seventh, and 10th Districts. Sen. Tim Kaine is also up for reelection. A few Republicans are vying for the GOP nomination to challenge him in the fall, but Kaine’s seat is likely safe.
Polls close: 8 pm Central
Not a primary, but Wisconsin hosts two key state special elections on Tuesday. Two state vacancies opened up in December in the state government after Gov. Scott Walker appointed state Sen. Frank Lasee (R) and state Rep. Keith Ripp (R) to his administration. But Walker delayed calling special elections, until a lawsuit forced him to do so.
The outcomes for Senate District 1 and Assembly District 42 won’t have a measurable impact on the makeup of the Wisconsin legislature — Republicans control both chambers, though the GOP has a narrower margin of 18 to 14 in the state Senate — but might be another indicator for Democrats’ chances in November.