Voters in four states select candidates in primaries tonight: Connecticut, Florida, Minnesota and Wisconsin. We've written up all the key races below, and we've also provided interactive, zoomable Google Maps versions of each state's new congressional map where appropriate.
• CT-05 (D & R): The contest for the Democratic nomination in the seat left open by Chris Murphy's Senate bid has taken some very unexpected turns over the past few months. State House Speaker Chris Donovan had long been the frontrunner, locking up near-total support from labor unions. But the arrest of his finance director (and, later, his former campaign manager) on campaign finance fraud charges dealt a serious blow to Donovan's efforts, even though he's never been implicated in any wrongdoing. That left an opening for ex-state Rep. Elizabeth Esty, who self-funded for half a million but also has the backing of EMILY's List, which has run ads and sent out mailers on her behalf.
But a funny thing happened late in the game: Young PR exec Dan Roberti, boosted by a Super PAC tied to his wealthy and powerful lobbyist father, started coming on strong with attacks directed at both Donovan and Esty. Esty then turned her fire on Roberti (who has self funded even more), potentially giving Donovan the chance to re-emerge as the one guy who hasn't really been caught up in this ugly firefight. (Donovan did go negative on Esty, but I suspect Roberti and Esty's ads, including third-party spots, have been in heavier rotation.) This looks like it could be anybody's game.
Meanwhile, thanks to the hot-running war between the Democrats, the GOP side of the contest hasn't gotten nearly as much attention. Out of the four candidates, two unsuccessfully sought the nomination in 2010: Afghanistan war veteran Justin Bernier and businessman Mark Greenberg. Two new players are also in the mix: state Sen. Andrew Roraback and businesswoman (and 2010 LG candidate) Lisa Wilson-Foley. Once again, Greenberg's self-funded over seven figures, but that only netted him a third-place finish last time. Wilson-Foley's also put in a lot of personal cash (more than half a mil), but the man Democrats fear most is Roraback, who has the most moderate reputation of the field. Indeed, the Democrat-aligned Super PAC Patriot Majority USA even ran $200K worth of negative ads in an effort to deny Roraback his party's nod. Without any public polling, it's very hard to get a read on this primary, but despite the negative attacks on him, Roraback could sneak through if the other three players—all much more conservative—split the vote.
Head below the fold for the rest of our writeups.
• FL-02 (D): State Rep. Leonard Bembry is a man very much in the mold of Blue Dog Allen Boyd, who lost this seat last cycle to Republican Steve Southerland. He faces off against ex-state Sen. Al Lawson, who very nearly unseated Boyd in the primary last time and decided to go for the brass ring once more.
Much of Lawson's success had to do with anger over Boyd's vote against the healthcare reform bill, an issue which obviously is now moot. [UPDATE: Boyd voted for the ACA. My mistake.] But what could play a role again is the apparent racial divide, between black voters, who make up over 20 percent of the district and tended to favor Lawson, versus more conservative white voters in the traditional Southern Democrat mold, who backed Boyd. Neither man has raised much money (Bembry $266K, Lawson $108K).
• FL-03 (R): Several guys at least a cut above Some Dude level decided to challenge veteran Rep. Cliff Stearns in the primary, perhaps because they expected Stearns to run in his home district of FL-11 instead. But that would have set up an undesirable fight against fellow GOP Rep. Rich Nugent, so Stearns wisely decided to stick with the 3rd, where he already represents almost two thirds of the constituents. Stearns is either sleepwalking or feels supremely confident, since he spent about $740K but still has over $2 million left in the bank. He faces state Sen. Steve Oelrich, Clay County Clerk James Jett, and veterinarian Ted Yoho, who has actually raised the most of any of Stearns's challengers (some $300K). This seat is safe for the GOP no matter what happens in the primary.
• FL-06 (R): The member-on-member showdown in the adjacent 7th left the 6th open for a rumble in this safely Republican seat. Attorney Ron DeSantis, the top fundraiser, also has the support of the Club for Growth, though they haven't spent much money on him—either because they don't think they need to, or because they actually aren't that excited about his prospects. The man Costello has trained most of his fire on has been state Rep. Fred Costello, but he's also gone negative against Jacksonville City Councilman Richard Clark, St. Johns County School Board chair Bev Slough, and former steakhouse CEO Craig Miller (who dropped down from the Senate race)—pretty much everyone in sight. It seems that DeSantis may be the only candidate on the air, though a Super PAC has run some ads on behalf of Clark.
• FL-07 (R): Even though he already represented the lion's share of the redrawn 6th District, veteran Rep. John Mica preferred to seek reelection in the 7th, where he lives. That set up a showdown with freshman Rep. Sandy Adams, a classic establishment-versus-tea partier battle. But the fight has been pretty one-sided: Mica's doubled Adams in fundraising and has released a couple of polls showing him with dominant leads. Even Adams released an early poll way back when that had her trailing considerably (albeit by less than what Mica's numbers were saying), but she never followed up with anything that painted a rosier picture for her. It seems that Obi Wan didn't get that tractor beam out of commission after all, so for the one-term Adams, this looks like it's going to be a real short trip. This is another safe GOP seat.
• FL-09 (R): The man Democrats would rather not face in the fall is Osceola County Commissioner John "Q" Quiñones, who potentially has some crossover appeal to Hispanics in this heavily Latino district—which is why both ex-Rep. Alan Grayson, who is seeking a comeback, and the House Majority PAC have been trying to ratfuck the GOP primary by branding Quiñones as a tax hiker. The guy they'd prefer to deal with is attorney Todd Long, who nearly unseated former GOP Rep. Ric Keller in the old 8th District in 2008. Quiñones has raised very little, but Long has raised bupkes, so if he gets the nomination, he knows exactly whom to thank.
• FL-18 (R): A Republican primary challenge from the left? Yep, that's exactly what Martin County Sheriff Bob Crowder dreamed of doing to tea party superstar Allen West. But obviously it's not going to happen. West will face Democrat Patrick Murphy in November.
• FL-19 (R): Connie Mack's open seat inspired a lot of Republicans to jump in as potential successors, including state Reps. Page Kreegel and Gary Aubuchon, conservative radio host Trey Radel, investor Byron Donalds, and former congressional aide Chauncey Goss, son of the guy who used to represent the old 14th (this district's predecessor), Porter Goss. It's a tricky race to figure, but fortunately, PPP just conducted a poll for the Fort Myers-based News Press, finding Radel at 25, Kreegel at 23, Aubuchon at 16, Goss at 14, and Donalds at 13. Kreegel's raised the most and has been in the race the longest (indeed, he filed before Mack even decided to run for Senate), while Radel has been the beneficiary of almost $125K in Super PAC ads. He's also been hammered by a competing super PAC for a similar amount. Kreegel holds a seven-point edge among those who've already voted, so if PPP's numbers are accurate, Radel will have to do well on election day to prevail. The GOP nominee is a lock to win in November.
• FL-22 (D): Democrats were very fortunate when construction executive Patrick Murphy decided to follow Allen West northward to the new 18th district; that allowed them to avoid an expensive primary between Murphy and former West Palm Beach mayor Lois Frankel. But once the 22nd was made bluer and became open—in other words, when it looked more appealing than taking on West in a swingy district—Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs all of a sudden got interested. It was a strange choice, since Frankel was a dominant fundraiser and had locked up a lot of establishment support; Jacobs never came close on the financial front and never responded to a long-ago Frankel internal than gave her a sizable lead. A Jacobs victory would be very surprising. Whoever wins will take on Republican Adam Hasner, who dropped down from the Senate race.
• FL-24 (D): Businessman Rudy Moise spent over a million dollars of his own money to score just 16% in the Democratic primary in 2010, when the old 17th was open thanks to Kendrick Meek's Senate run. The winner was Frederica Wilson, who took a genuinely impressive 35 percent in a nine-way field. This time, Moise is back for more punishment, though he's only self-funded $100K. If you're looking for a tea leaf that this race might actually be competitive, I'd point out that President Obama recently endorsed Wilson, though I think that's much more of an insurance policy. And given that Moise's most prominent supporter appears to be the president of Haiti (yes, really), Wilson should be just fine.
• FL-26 (D): After their initial recruit, state Rep. Luis Garcia, flamed out in spectacular fashion, Democrats tried to recruit Joe Garcia, who ran in this district's predecessor (the 25th) against now-Rep. David Rivera in 2010. While Garcia was deciding whether to wage a third consecutive congressional run, businesswoman Gloria Romero Roses got in ... and then Garcia decided, yes, he did have it in him for one more shot. Garcia's outraised Roses and also gotten some outside help from SEIU, but she's self-funded almost $425K. There's also the strange case of Justin Lamar Sternad, a crypto-conservative candidate whom Garcia has accused of being a Rivera plant in the Democratic primary, aimed principally at hurting Garcia. EMILY's List endorsed Roses but never spent a dime here, so you have to wonder if that means Garcia's name recognition will still carry the day.
• MN-08 (D): Ex-Rep. Rick Nolan, who is seeking an improbably comeback after retiring from Congress in 1981 (!), made a clean sweep during the local convention process, thus garnering the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party's formal endorsement. But ex-state Sen. Tarryl Clark, who ran against Michele Bachmann in MN-06 last cycle, has outraised Nolan considerably and long ago planned to forge ahead to the primary. Clark decided to go negative on Nolan late in the game, suggesting her numbers aren't where she'd like them to be. Also in the race is Duluth City Councilor Jeff Anderson, though the real fight seems to be between Clark and Nolan. The winner will face GOP freshman Chip Cravaack in November.
• WI-02 (D): Two Democrats are vying to replace Tammy Baldwin in her dark blue, Madison-area seat: state Reps. Mark Pocan and Kelda Roys. Pocan, who is gay, has garnered a lot of support from various national gay organizations; Roys, meanwhile, has been endorsed by EMILY's List. But EMILY never stepped in with any outside funds, and Roys went negative late—earning her some unwanted blowback and lost endorsements from former allies. Pocan released an internal poll a couple of weeks ago showing him with a 30-point edge; Roys never responded with her own numbers.