Sunday, December 4

What to Watch in Tuesday’s Primaries


Voters in Alabama and Georgia will make their final selections on Tuesday in congressional runoffs — including a particularly hard-fought battle for the Senate in Alabama — and Virginia primary voters will select party nominees for two of the most closely watched House races in the country.

Here is what to watch for on a Southern-accented Primary Day.

Republican voters in Alabama could be forgiven for their confusion over their party’s nominee for an open Senate seat. Former President Donald J. Trump, a popular figure in the state, endorsed Representative Mo Brooks for the job after he emerged as an unwavering acolyte and a stalwart supporter of Mr. Trump’s election falsehoods.

The former president then withdrew his endorsement as Mr. Brooks lagged in the polls, and finally threw his support to Katie Britt, a former chief of staff for Senator Richard Shelby, who is retiring.

On Tuesday, Ms. Britt and Mr. Brooks meet in a runoff that will determine the prohibitive favorite to become Alabama’s next senator. Recent polling indicated Ms. Britt has a commanding lead.

The special masters who drew up Virginia’s new House districts dealt a very bad hand to one incumbent: Representative Elaine Luria, a Democrat. Her home in Norfolk was removed from her Tidewater district, and a good deal of rural terrain was added to the seat. Once slightly Republican, her district, Virginia’s Second, became considerably more so.

The two main Republicans vying to take her on are State Senator Jen Kiggans, who has the backing of Republican leadership in Washington, and Jarome Bell, who has the backing of the state congressional delegation’s most conservative Republican, Bob Good, and members of the Trump world.

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Ms. Kiggans, Mr. Bell and Ms. Luria are all Navy veterans in a district where one in five voters are on active duty in the military or are veterans. What separates the three is ideology, with Mr. Bell campaigning on Mr. Trump’s false claims of election fraud.

In another year, the new boundaries of Representative Abigail Spanberger’s Seventh District would be seen as shoring up her standing as the incumbent Democrat, shifting her from a Republican-leaning map to a slightly Democratic one. But this isn’t another year, and six Republicans are lined up to take advantage of the conditions favoring their party nationally and take a crack at her.

Bryce Reeves, a state senator and former narcotics officer and Army veteran, calls himself the front-runner, but he has plenty of competition. Crystal Vanuch, chairwoman of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, has latched onto the winning social themes of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s race in 2021: parental control of education and barring critical race theory from schools. Derrick Anderson is a combat veteran and former Green Beret, and Yesli Vega, a sheriff’s deputy, headed Latinos for Youngkin last year.

Runoffs in Georgia for Republican nominees for House seats feature two Black candidates with different prospects and different stories.

In Southwest Georgia’s new Second District, Republican leaders would very much like Jeremy Hunt, a moderate-sounding political newcomer, to take on the endangered, longtime incumbent Black Democrat, Sanford Bishop.

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But first, Mr. Hunt, a West Point graduate and former Army captain who served at Fort Benning, must get past Chris West, an Air National Guard officer who is white and running on photos showing him with Mr. Trump.

In Georgia’s 10th District, meanwhile, Vernon Jones, a longtime Democratic politician who endorsed Mr. Trump in 2020 and then became a Republican, is running with Mr. Trump’s backing after being pushed out of the primary for Senate.

But in something of a rerun proxy war between Mr. Trump and Georgia’s Republican establishment, Gov. Brian Kemp — who defied Mr. Trump and overcame a primary challenge from former Senator David Perdue that the former president engineered — has backed the other Republican in the runoff, Mike Collins, as have most of the Republicans who helped Mr. Kemp win his primary in a landslide.

Mr. Collins has also brought up a 2004 claim that Mr. Jones sexually assaulted a woman, a charge that the woman dropped although never recanted. Mr. Jones has said the encounter was consensual, and in a statement after Mr. Kemp sided with his rival he boasted of his outsider status.

“I’m not running for Congress to join the establishment,” he said. “I’m running for Congress to destroy it.”

In Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District, which was redrawn to be overwhelmingly Republican, another candidate endorsed by Mr. Trump, Jake Evans, faces possible defeat.

Mr. Evans, a lawyer who stepped down last year as chairman of the Georgia ethics commission, barely made the runoff against Rich McCormick, a Marine pilot and emergency-room doctor who was by far the top vote-getter on May 24.

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Dr. McCormick may not be Mr. Trump’s choice, but he is no moderate: He has campaigned against what he calls President Biden’s “unrelenting assault on our core values.” He has the backing of the House’s No. 2 Republican, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

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