Primary Season Begins: Races to Keep an Eye On

As primary season kicks off Tuesday with a high-profile Senate race in Ohio, the stakes could not be higher. Followed by another primary in Pennsylvania on the 17th, and another in Georgia on the 24th, it is not hyperbolic to say that control of the Senate in 2023 will very likely be decided by these three races. 

In both Ohio and Pennsylvania, the races do not feature an incumbent. Both Senate seats are being vacated by retiring Republicans. And in Georgia, the incumbent is Democrat Raphael Warnock, who won his seat by the narrowest of margins in the special election on January 5th, 2021, so there’s not as much incumbent benefit as one might usually expect. Yet, on the Democratic side, there’s been very little drama about who the candidates will be for November’s general election. In Georgia, Warnock is running unopposed, on top of being one of the highest fundraising Senate candidates in the nation. And in Ohio Tim Ryan is essentially the presumptive nominee, leading his challengers by wide margins and enjoying enormous name recognition, having represented his district in the House of Representatives since 2003. 

Even in Pennsylvania, ostensibly the closest battle between Democrats of the three, Lt. Governor John Fetterman enjoys wide leads over his Democratic challengers (and is even polling well ahead of potential Republican candidates ahead of the general as well). Further, Fetterman, who is 6 foot 8 inches tall and sports a goatee, shaved head, and often campaigns in a hooded sweatshirt and jeans, is undeniably charismatic and hilarious. According to CNN, when Fetterman was asked about Biden and his commitment to bipartisanship at a recent campaign stop in rural PA, “Fetterman didn’t flinch, asserting there’s little common ground in working with Republicans who undermined the legitimacy of Biden’s 2020 victory and tried to outlaw abortion.

“I also want a full head of hair. But realistically that’s not going to happen right now.”

On the Republican side, however, the vitriol between the candidates could not be more stark. In Pennsylvania, the race between Trump-endorsed TV personality Dr. Oz and David McCormick might be as many as 2 points to Oz’s favor or 9 points to McCormick’s depending on the day and the poll. While in Ohio, 7 different candidates will be on the GOP ballot, and at a rally over the weekend Former President Trump evidently had trouble remembering which one he’d endorsed:

Nor, (surprisingly enough), have Trump’s endorsements been the final seal of approval for Republicans this spring. In Georgia, where ex-football star Herschel Walker is the Trump-endorsed frontrunner, candidate Gary Black has been not only vocal about Walker’s checkered past  of domestic violence and failed business ventures, he’s gone so far as to create a website dedicated to publicizing them:

And in Ohio, where Trump-endorsed candidate JD Vance spent the weekend campaigning with Far-Right bozos Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz, the race remains a virtual tossup, with Nathanial Rakich of commenting that “the final days of the campaign have devolved into open warfare between Trump and the pro-Mandel Club for Growth. The two have long been frenemies: The group opposed Trump in 2016, made nice with him during his presidency, but is now unafraid to defy him when necessary. For instance, shortly after Trump endorsed Vance, the Club for Growth kept airing a TV ad highlighting his past anti-Trump comments. When Trump reportedly had an aide text the group’s president to “go f*^% yourself,” the Club for Growth responded by increasing the ad buy.”

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