Primary Day: What to Watch

Photograph by Rick Wood/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/AP Photo

Tom Barrett and Kathleen Falk before a live debate between Democratic gubernatorial primary candidates in Madison, Wisconsin, on May 4, 2012.

Congress, not the White House, is the major focus of primary elections today.

Indiana, North Carolina and West Virginia are voting on the first of six consecutive Tuesdays on which there will be congressional primaries. There’s also a Democratic primary in the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election.

Here’s a rundown of the key races to watch:

Indiana Senate: Republican Senator Richard Lugar may be defeated by state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who has painted Lugar as too accommodating to Democrats and not loyal enough to Republican principles. First elected in 1976, the 80-year-old Lugar is the Senate’s oldest Republican, and its longest-serving party member along with Orrin Hatch of Utah. The Democratic nominee is Representative Joe Donnelly.

Indiana’s 5th: The winner of an eight-candidate Republican primary will be favored to succeed retiring Republican Representative Dan Burton in a district that includes a Republican swath of Indianapolis and its suburbs. Candidates include former U.S. Representative David McIntosh, former federal prosecutor Susan Brooks and former county coroner John McGoff.

Indiana’s 6th: Eight Republicans are vying to succeed Republican Representative Mike Pence, who’s running for governor and eschewing a re-election bid in eastern Indiana. Luke Messer, a former state representative, probably is the leading candidate.

Indiana’s 8th: First-term Republican Larry Bucshon faces a challenge from Kristi Risk, a tea party activist seeking a rematch of a 2010 primary that Bucshon won by 33 percent to 29 percent. Unlike their previous contest, this is a one-on-one race. Risk has attacked Bucshon’s vote last August for a compromise to raise the federal debt ceiling. The district includes Evansville and Terre Haute.

North Carolina Marriage Amendment: Voters will approve or reject a proposed constitutional amendment that says in part that marriage between one man and one woman is “the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized” in the state.

North Carolina Governor: The winner of a Democratic primary that includes Lt. Governor Walter Dalton and former Representative Bob Etheridge will face Republican Pat McCrory, the former mayor of Charlotte. Democratic Governor Bev Perdue isn’t seeking re-election.

North Carolina’s 7th: Representative Mike McIntyre, a member of the Blue Dog Coalition of Democrats who emphasize fiscal restraint, will face the winner of a Republican primary that includes state Senator David Rouzer and 2010 nominee Ilario Pantano. The district includes most of Wilmington.

North Carolina’s 8th: Five Republicans want a shot against Democratic Representative Larry Kissell, who’s vulnerable in November as a result of Republican-controlled redistricting. If no candidate wins 40 percent of the vote, a July 17 runoff would be held between the top two vote-getters. The district includes territory between Charlotte and Fayetteville.

North Carolina’s 9th: Eleven Republicans are vying to succeed retiring Republican Sue Myrick in a Republican-leaning district that takes in about half of Charlotte. No Democrat filed to run.

North Carolina’s 11th: The winner of an eight-candidate Republican primary will be favored to succeed Democratic Representative Heath Shuler, who’s retiring after three terms representing the state’s westernmost district.

North Carolina’s 13th: Former federal prosecutor George Holding Jr. is getting help in the Republican primary from a so-called ‘super PAC’ that’s funded by members of his family. Holding’s main opponent is Paul Coble, a former Raleigh mayor. Democratic Representative Brad Miller chose not to seek re-election.

West Virginia Senate: The primary will set up a rematch between Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and Republican businessman John Raese. Manchin beat Raese by 10 percentage points in 2010.

Wisconsin Recall: Democrats probably will choose Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett to oppose Republican Governor Scott Walker in a June 5 recall election. Walker beat Barrett by about 6 percentage points in the 2010 general election.

Most polling stations in Indiana close at 6 p.m. eastern time. West Virginia and North Carolina voters will cast ballots until 7:30 p.m. eastern, while Wisconsin’s polls close at 9 p.m. eastern.

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