Two of the most enduring members of Congress find out tomorrow if voters in their own parties want them to stay in office.
Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican who’s served in the Senate since 1977, and Charles Rangel, a New York City Democrat who’s been in the House since 1971, headline the marquee races tomorrow when five states hold primaries.
Hatch, 78, probably will avoid the fate of Robert Bennett, his former Utah Republican colleague who was denied re-nomination by party activists in 2010, and Richard Lugar, an Indiana Republican whose bid for a seventh term fell short in a primary last month.
Hatch is favored to defeat former state senator Dan Liljenquist, who doesn’t have the advantages that Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock did against Lugar in their state’s primary. Unlike Lugar, Hatch has sided frequently with the positions of Tea Party activists and courted their support.
Rangel, 82, probably has a tougher race. He faces four opponents including state Senator Adriano Espaillat, who shares the Hispanic ethnicity of a 55 percent majority of residents in the reconfigured 13th District. Also challenging Rangel is Clyde Williams, a former domestic policy aide to former President Bill Clinton who’s getting help from a super-political action committee that opposes Rangel. About 27 percent of the district’s residents are black, including Rangel and Williams.
The House 18 months ago censured Rangel for ethics violations, including failing to fully pay his income taxes. The district takes in parts of northern Manhattan, including Harlem, and the Bronx.
Here’s a look at other key races to watch tomorrow:
Also in New York, state Assemblywoman Grace Meng, state Assemblyman Rory Lancman and New York City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley are the main Democratic contenders for the open, Democratic-leaning 6th District in Queens. Democratic Representative Gary Ackerman isn’t seeking re-election.
In the 8th District, a black-majority Democratic bastion that takes in parts of Brooklyn and Queens, state Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries faces New York City Councilman Charles Barron for the seat of retiring Democrat Ed Towns. Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senator Charles Schumer support Jeffries. Towns backs Barron.
Three Republicans including Representative Bob Turner are vying for the party’s nomination to take on Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who’s seeking a full six-year term for the seat previously held by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Republicans last won a Senate race in New York in 1992.
In Colorado, three-term Republican Representative Doug Lamborn is trying to retain his Colorado Springs-based 5th District in the face of a challenge from Robert Blaha, a businessman who’s given his campaign more than $752,000. One of Blaha’s television ads attacks “career politicians” and another says Lamborn “can’t fix Washington’s corrupt culture.” A Lamborn ad says Blaha has a “record of scandal and corruption” in business.
In Oklahoma, both parties have multi-candidate primaries in the eastern 2nd District of retiring Democrat Dan Boren. He has been the only Democrat among the congressional delegation representing the most pro-Republican state in the 2008 presidential election.
In South Carolina, runoff elections will determine Democratic and Republican nominees in the 7th District in and around Myrtle Beach. No incumbent resides in the district, which was awarded to South Carolina after its 15.3 percent population growth in the 2000s, 10th-fastest among all states. The Republican nominee will be favored in November, as is the case for the Oklahoma seat Boren is giving up.