Voters in Arizona, Florida and Oklahoma are set to go the polls for the last major primary races before the critical midterm elections in November.
In Arizona, Republican Representative Martha McSally is leading her two conservative challengers – former state Senator Kelli Ward and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio – in the campaign to replace retiring Senator Jeff Flake.
President Trump has not endorsed a candidate in the race, which is widely expected to be one of the most contested toss-ups in the general election.
The winner of the extremely contentious Republican primary will face the presumptive Democratic nominee, Representative Kyrsten Sinema.
Arizona has not elected a Democratic senator since Dennis DeConcini won reelection in 1988, but changing demographics have pushed the state from solid red to increasingly purple. For his part, Trump only carried the state by four percent in 2016 — a far smaller margin than previous Republican presidential candidates.
McSally’s decision to run for Senate has left her seat representing the state’s 2nd Congressional District open, sparking a bitter primary to determine which Democratic candidate will try to flip a district Hillary Clinton won by nearly five percent.
Former Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, who unsuccessfully challenged Senator John McCain in 2016, is locked in a bitter primary battle against Matt Heinz, a former state legislator who lost to McSally in 2016. Heinz has run to the left of Kirkpatrick, who was endorsed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).
The race in Arizona’s 2nd district is considered a likely pick-up opportunity for Democrats.
While Trump refused to formally endorse a candidate in the Arizona Senate primary, the power of his endorsement will be tested in the Republican primary to replace term-limited Florida Governor Rick Scott.
Representative Ron DeSantis, who received Trump’s endorsement, is locked in a tight race with Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who led polls prior to Trump’s endorsement.
The Democratic primary is no less contentious, with former Representative Gwen Graham (the daughter of former Senator Bob Graham) facing a challenge from former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, businessman Jeff Greene, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who was endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders.
While Florida has not elected a Democratic governor since 1999, the race to replace Scott is considered a toss-up, as is the Senate race between Scott and incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson (the state’s sole Democrat elected statewide).
The Republican primary between Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt to replace term-limited Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has attracted less attention given the likelihood of victory for the Republican candidate regardless of who actually wins the primary.