In Florida, Republican Rep. Ross Spano could be in danger of losing his seat on Tuesday as he fights to ward off a primary challenge.
The results of another GOP primary in the Sunshine State will solidify who will take on Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell this fall in a battleground district that flipped from red to blue in 2018.
Meanwhile, in Wyoming, former Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis is eyeing a political comeback as she competes in a primary to win the GOP nomination for an open Senate seat.
Those are a few of the key things to watch in House and Senate primary elections Tuesday with contests taking place in Florida, Wyoming and Alaska.
Will a Florida Republican lose his primary?
Spano, an embattled freshman, is facing a primary race in Florida’s 15th Congressional District against challenger Scott Franklin, the Lakeland City Commissioner.
Spano has been embroiled in ethics issues during his first term in office, which has created an opening for attacks from his opponent.
Last November, Spano said that he planned to “cooperate fully with the Justice Department,” after the House Ethics committee announced that at the request of the department it would defer a review into allegations that Spano may have received improper loans in excess of federal campaign contribution limits.
Spano said at the time, “we acknowledged that mistakes were made with respect to the campaign loans, but those mistakes were completely inadvertent and unintentional,” adding, “We are confident that upon review, the Justice Department will see it that way, too.”
Franklin has seized on the issue, with one campaign ad superimposing the word CRIMINAL in all capital letters over an image of Spano. Another ad says via voiceover, “Whether Spano is incompetent or corrupt, he shouldn’t be your congressman.”
Spano, meanwhile, has campaigned as a “staunch Trump ally” and his campaign has accused Franklin of not being a true conservative. The Club for Growth’s political arm has also been on the air defending Spano and attacking Franklin.
The congressman has a significant fundraising advantage over his opponent. Spano had raised over $1 million as of July 29, while Franklin had raised $237,000 and loaned his campaign $350,000, by that same date, according to FEC data.
Spano has also been endorsed by the top three House Republican leaders: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Whip Steve Scalise and House GOP conference chair Liz Cheney.
Franklin’s campaign has been bolstered by the endorsement of one of Spano’s own House Republican colleagues: GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz, who represents the state’s 1st Congressional District. In a video announcement, Gaetz said that “Scott’s the right person to ensure that President Trump has the strongest possible campaign in the state of Florida.”
If Spano makes it past the primary, he may face a competitive race in the fall. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the 15th District as Lean Republican.
General election matchup to be set in competitive Florida district
A primary election Tuesday will determine who will take on Mucarsel-Powell, a freshman, in what is expected to be a competitive general election race.
Miami-Dade county mayor Carlos Gimenez, who has had a prominent platform during the coronavirus crisis, is viewed as the heavy favorite in the GOP primary for the 26th district. Mucarsel-Powell flipped the seat in 2018 after taking on GOP incumbent Carlos Curbelo in a district that voted for Hillary Clinton by 16 points.
Gimenez has raised over $1.1 million as of July 29, but the incumbent Democrat has raised considerably more with a haul of close to $4 million by the same date, according to FEC data.
Gonzales rates the 26th District as Tilt Democratic – and it’s one of the few races where recent ratings changes have shifted in the GOP’s favor.
Will Wyoming help bolster female Republican ranks in the Senate?
Cynthia Lummis, who represented Wyoming’s at-large House seat from 2009 until 2017, is on the ballot on Tuesday in a GOP primary for the Senate race to fill the seat vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Mike Enzi.
Lummis, who was the only woman in the House Freedom Caucus during her time in Congress, is competing against a crowded field of Republican candidates, but leads the field in both name recognition and fundraising. Lummis also boasts a long list of endorsements, including from Trump and Wyoming GOP Sens. Enzi and John Barrasso.
If she wins the primary, she would be well positioned to pick up the Senate seat in the deep red state in the fall.
A victory for Lummis in the fall would add to the ranks of Republican female senators, whose numbers are at risk of falling with four of the conference’s nine women considered vulnerable in 2020.
Will Republicans nominate a Black Republican for a safe GOP seat?
Another race to watch Tuesday is the GOP primary in Florida’s 19th Congressional District, a safe seat that has the potential to deliver some diversity to the overwhelmingly White GOP House conference.
Byron Donalds, a Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives, describes himself as a “Trump supporting, gun owning, liberty loving, pro-life, politically incorrect Black man.”
If he were to win the nomination in this seat, which Gonzales rates Solid Republican, he would be well-positioned to win in the fall. That would be significant given that there is only one Black Republican currently serving in the House – Rep. Will Hurd of Texas – who is not running for reelection.
Donalds has been endorsed by the Club for Growth PAC. He was the top fundraiser among the GOP primary field as of July 29, but his campaign was heavily outspent by two opponents, Casey Askar and William Figlesthaler, who both poured significant personal resources into their campaigns.
This district is open after GOP Rep. Francis Rooney announced last year he would not seek reelection.