I don’t normally do article series, but this time I must. I break this up not because of volume but instead because of metrics this because there are different measurements of importance that would yield different results. Both measurements have long term potential but for different reasons. The first one is the more immediate importance, and this focuses on personnel.
Primaries have the chance to nominate ideological champions over “practical” politicians. Nominating the next Rand Paul or Ted Cruz would be a major impact on the Senate, Congress or Governorship for perhaps decades to come, and also a major impact on the state and country. Therefore, much of the races mentioned in this session will focus on the primaries for their higher emphasis on the individuals running as opposed to which party holds or doesn’t hold the seat. This measure of importance brings more Senate seats while the second is more focused on states.
This isn’t about races that are hotly contested, rather it’s about races with a good chance to send a very strong candidate that will shake things up in some way shape for the state or nation as a whole.
US Senate – Missouri
Claire McCaskill won her seat in 2012 against a self imploding candidate. Now she’s in trouble in a high stakes Senate race. Her potential challengers are numerous. A lot of personalities are hedging their bets. Steve Bannon’s horse is State Attorney General, Josh Hawley. Hawley resembles Ted Cruz, in that they both were on the winning sides of a major SCOTUS decision. For Hawley, it was Hobby Lobby. Hawley won the Attorney General seat in 2016 and is already seeking election into a higher, easier, office. Perhaps that’s a character flaw, or perhaps a sign of great ambition. The biggest conservative objection on paper is his over-admiration of Teddy Roosevelt. He is a strong candidate; the only thing holding him back is Bannon.
Then there’s former Libertarian challenger to Gary Johnson, Austin Petersen, a darling of conservative Twitter. Petersen is a pro-life Libertarian who wanted to rebrand the party in the same way, Rand Paul wants to rebrand Republicans. Wanting the best chance at making an impact, he switched parties to run for Senate. Petersen is a disciple of Ayn Rand, and with that comes atheism. Petersen is a grassroots candidate to watch out for.
Other candidates, I wouldn’t suggest are as strong as these two. But also keep an eye on conservative prodigy, Courtland Sykes. Courtland Sykes appears to have conservatism and also a solid military background. The other likable campaign touch is his two term pledge. We’ll see if he has the drive and skill to campaign in a crowded field.
Missouri presents a chance to put a really good conservative in the Senate, something there is a massive shortage of.
US Senate – Wyoming
John Barrasso finds himself facing reelection. Barrasso is a conservative on matters of guns, but is hardly frugal in countering the deficit. Expect a challenger or two… Erik Prince is considering the run. He would be Bannon backed for his informal ties to the Trump administration transition team. Prince very wealthy and could pose a threat if money won races. Then there’s Foster Friess. Friess is a Christian who so happens to be a highly skilled investment manager. The Trump administration decision to betray the Iraqi-Kurds nudged him into teasing a Senate run. Freiss seems like an ideal candidate for conservatives in Wyoming should he decide to run. But odds are, one of these rich guys throws their hat in to upset the incumbent.
US Senate – Arizona
Arizona has sent some terrible senators to DC. Several attempts to primary John McCain turned fruitless. However, anti-establishment now need not campaign against an incumbent seeing as Jeff Flake would rather not seek reelection than lose. This leaves a hotly contested field. Kelli Ward is first to stand out. She lost to McCain but had her sights set on building her base for another try. Ward stands as the current frontrunner in a Flakeless primary.
Another possible name is Martha McSally. Big government republicans are seeking replace Jeff Flake with McSally. McSally is no ally of Trump and resides in swing district that could have her returning to the private sector come 2019 anyway. So a Senate run may the best way to avoid losing should Democrats mount a sizable attack for her seat, which they should.
Another GOP candidate is the extremely young looking Craig Britain is running on an ambitious “Taxation is theft”, end the Fed platform. Then there’s Nicholas Tutora a health care (repeal and replace) focused candidate.
The Democrats will look to compete in this race. Kyrsten Sinema is a more centrist democrat who is in favor of Kate’s Law but not withholding funding for sanctuary cities as the representative from D-9. Expect a more hardline liberal to challenge her. This race may not provide an ideal conservative or liberal but to Republicans, it is more about retaining the seat with an Arizona Senator who won’t be an obstacle.
US Senate – Texas
Ted Cruz doesn’t seem like he has all that much competition but nonetheless keeping him in the Senate is vital to conservatives. Losing him would spell death for conservatism. That being said, expect democrats to throw another Wendy Davis into this fight, not someone who can win, but someone who can diametrically oppose Ted Cruz.
US House – Paul Ryan’s seat
This 1st District of Wisconsin is safely Republican, for now. Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan faces general unpopularity and a big name primary challenger Paul Nehlen. Nehlen lost embarrassingly last time and is looking to try again, much like Kelly Ward, though not as bad. Nehlen is a hardcore Trump MAGA spout who has reportedly gone off the Alt-Right deepend even for Breitbart folks. The Paul alternative is Nick Polce. Polce is running on opposing career politicians, which Paul Ryan certainly has become as opposed to a hardlined MAGA approach. This more grassroots approach could make this primary quite interesting.
Governor of California
This race seems solidly in the hands of liberals as its gearing to be a competitive primary between union favorite, Lt. Gov Gavin Newsome, and former LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Unless Peter Thiel runs or a Roy Moore sized scandal erupts conveniently before the election, one of these two is the likely next governor. This race is important because of California’s continued sprint into liberalism. Although perhaps this the years of Jerry Brown will make a republican candidate a viable option much like how Larry Hogan became Governor of liberal Maryland. It’s hard for people to knowingly vote for higher taxes. And with Trump tax cuts, an anti-tax Republican may find themselves in a more formidable position.
US Senate – Maine
This seat was won by independent candidate, Angus King, in 2012. The state of Maine politics is currently in a heated partisan gridlock. 2018 is a big year for Maine, and the Senate race could very well be wide open. Angus King won in 2012 with a majority vote likely due to his history as Governor. King may seek to straddle the partisan fence, but it won’t be as easy now that he has a Senate record of voting staunchly liberal. It would be strategic for Democrats to let their ally go uncontested but it seems a further left candidate could divide liberal voters. Zak Ringelstein, is pro medicare for all which is a further sign of the left moving left.
This opens the door for GOP candidate Erick Brakey. Brakey is a State Senator with a solid conservative record and is also a libertarian turned Republican. Brakey would be a solid conservative Senator for Maine to make up for the RINO Susan Collins. This race is early and has the capability of a three way split that favors Brakey the most since King can’t really run on a bipartisan record that appeals to Republicans.
US House – Illinois
Generally speaking, Senate races are almost always more important than House races. However, this Democratic seat looks like it could be upended by a leftist candidate. Rep. Dan Lipinski of Ill-03 is regarded as one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress. He faces a challenger whose pro-abortion and far more anti-Trump. Marrie Newman is a fearsome primary challenger getting loads of support including Daily Kos. You don’t often hear about Democrats being primaried for being too moderate or conservative. The ideological splits in the Democrats are sure to increase as they veer towards socialism. This primary looks to be the first battle in a potential intra-party war.