One of the more anticipated primary days in recent weeks is upon us, as high-profile races will be decided in a quartet of states on Tuesday. The action will start early in the evening (when polls close in Florida and Vermont) and last well into the overnight hours (when polls close in Alaska).
Here's what to look for when the polls start to close tomorrow night:
ALASKA: Governor, Senate, AK-AL
The race that got all the hype here was for the Senate, with incumbent Lisa Murkowski facing off with attorney Joe Miller, who was running with the vocal support of both the Tea Party Express and Mama Griz herself. Hotline On Call looked this weekend at this race, and sees a Murkowski landslide in the making. Only one poll has shown Miller even in striking distance, and its authenticity has been questioned. If Murkowski can drop the hammer on Miller, then some of these stories about Palin's ineffectiveness as a kingmaker are surely justified. If there is any place where she can have an impact, it'd be in her old home state. Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams should easily triumph in a three way primary for the Democratic Senate nod. The race in Alaska that might prove to be more competitive could well be the primary for Governor. While virtually everyone expects Governor Sean Parnell (who took over for Palin when she...well...quit) and former Democratic state legislator Ethan Berkowitz to be the nominees after tomorrow night, both of them have legitimate opposition. In the race for the state's sole House seat (AK-AL), Republican Don Young is being primaried again, but he's likely to prevail. State legislator Harry Crawford awaits for the Democrats.
ARIZONA: Governor, Senate, AZ-01, AZ-03, AZ-05, AZ-08
Speaking of much-hyped races that have falled off the radar screen, the textbook example is several thousand miles to the south of Alaska. The political world did a collective double-take in January when loudmouth former GOP Congressman J.D. Hayworth announced that he would be primarying John McCain from the right. Hayworth's campaign, however, had repeated false starts, the worst of which was the revelation that Hayworth hosted an infomercial on how to obtain government grants, a tough day job for a teabagger to own. It has to be a very telling sign that there has been no new polling released in this race in over a month. On the Democratic side, however, is where all of the action is. Tucson councilman Rodney Glassman has the most resources, and held an early edge. Former AFL-CIO director Randy Parraz released a late poll, however, that put him right in the mix. Meanwhile, Democrats thought early in the year that they had a better-than-even chance to pick up a statehouse by winning the battle for Governor here. Incumbent Republican Jan Brewer was enmeshed in a multi-candidate primary, and Democratic state Attorney General Terry Goddard had the field clear for him. SB1070 changed everything in this race. Every one of Brewer's rivals (save for the only GOP opponent of SB1070 in the state of Arizona, businessman Matthew Jette) dropped out of the race, and polls show Brewer dominating the primary and leading the general, as well. Downballot, Republicans will be vying to challenge three potentially vulnerable Democrats in AZ-01 (Ann Kirkpatrick), AZ-05 (Harry Mitchell), and AZ-08 (Gabrielle Giffords). And, in my favorite race of the night, watch the GOP primary in the open-seat AZ-03, where ten Republicans grace the ballot, and 19% of the vote could very well be enough to carry the day.
FLORIDA: Governor, Senate, FL-08, FL-24, FL-25
In both the primaries for Governor and Senate, it has been a pitched battle to the last minute between absurdly well-funded neophytes and classic politicos. In the GOP gubernatorial primary, the big winner might be Democrat Alex Sink. The primary between longtime insider and state AG Bill McCollum and uber-wealthy hospital magnate Rick Scott has been so ugly that Sink has gone from a double-digit underdog against the GOP nominee to a single-digit leader. Late polls in the race have not been terribly helpful: they split, with Quinnipiac putting McCollum ahead, and PPP showing Scott out front. On the Senate side, late polling is more uniform, and seems to confirm that Congressman Kendrick Meek is favored to successfully fight off the cash-infused challenge of wealthy real estate investor Jeff Greene, who it is fair to say was something of a flawed candidate from the outset. Downballot, Republicans will pick nominees in two targeted races for November: FL-08 (Alan Grayson) and FL-24 (Suzanne Kosmas). The big downballot race to watch here is in FL-25, one of the better Dem pickup opportunities in the nation. It will be interesting to see if the late revelations about the myriad of troubles for GOP fave David Rivera will drop this nomination in the lap of one of his lesser-known GOP rivals.
VERMONT: Governor, VT-AL
It has received a millionth of the press bestowed on the other three states, but New England is getting in on the primary game tomorrow, as well. And in the case of the battle to replace Republican Jim Douglas as Governor of the state, the race on tap is actually a legitimate one to watch. Five serious Democrats have filed for the seat, and the terrain in the region alone indicates that any of them have a legit shot in November (although GOP Lt. Governor Brian Dubie is as good a candidate as the Republicans could have hoped for). Rasmussen is the only pollster to venture here in the last six months (and only for the general election), and they seem to indicate that Secretary of State Deb Markowitz would be the frontrunner for the Dems. With the dearth of polling here (last poll in June), it could be anyone's ballgame.