On Tuesday, voters in Nevada, North Dakota, and Virginia will cast ballots for their state’s downballot primaries. (Maine and South Carolina are also up, but there isn’t much to see there.) Below is our look at the key races to watch. The first polls will close at 7 PM ET in Virginia, and as always, we’ll be liveblogging all the results at Daily Kos Elections and tweeting as well.
● NV-03 (R): Republican Rep. Joe Heck is leaving this 50-49 Obama seat behind to run for the Senate, and influential Republicans like Gov. Brian Sandoval want state Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson to be their nominee. However, Roberson faces an expensive primary against businessman Danny Tarkanian, and a Tarkanian victory would make it tougher for Team Red to hold this suburban Las Vegas seat. Tarkanian owes whatever chance at victory he might have to the fact that he’s the son of the the late Jerry Tarkanian, the legendary UNLV basketball coach who led the school to a national championship. But Little Tark has little else going for him, and he’s parlayed his famous name into four different losing campaigns.
A lot of that has to do with his serious personal liabilities. Most notably, Tarkanian and his family guaranteed several bad loans in their failed effort to build an “equestrian destination resort.” In 2012, Tarkanian was hit with a $17 million judgment; Tarkanian declared bankruptcy because he of course didn't have anything like $17 million to repay his creditors, and he finally settled the matter for just $525,000. Tarkanian emerged from bankruptcy protection last year, just in time to launch another campaign.
Tarkanian is running as an ardent conservative, a profile that doesn't suit this swingy seat, which is why the GOP establishment has rallied around Roberson. However, Republicans may wind up getting stuck with Tark anyway. Both candidates are attacking one another in ads, but Tarkanian has outspent Roberson. In an ominous sign for Roberson, the conservative group Ending Spending launched a $1.6 million ad campaign to try and boost Roberson in the final week of the campaign. Many votes had already been cast by the time Ending Spending released their commercials, and their move may be a sign that early voting does not look good for Roberson. The (limited) good news for Roberson is that loony tunes Assemblywoman Michelle Fiore is also in the mix. While Fiore has very little money, her reputation alone could help her eat into Tarkanian’s base enough to cost him a win.
On the Democratic side, synagogue president Jacky Rosen, who is backed by Sen. Harry Reid and labor groups, shouldn't have much trouble against attorney Jesse Sbaih, who only hired a campaign manager in the final two weeks of the race.
● NV-04 (D): Freshman Republican Cresent Hardy won’t have an easy time holding this 54-44 Obama seat in November, and three notable Democrats are competing to face him. Powerful Sen. Harry Reid, several influential labor groups, and former President Bill Clinton have consolidated behind state Sen. Ruben Kihuen. Education activist Susie Lee has been doing some self-funding, and she’s spent the most cash.
Ex-Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, who was Team Blue's nominee for lieutenant governor in 2014, struggled with fundraising until Bernie Sanders asked his massive list to donate to her. The difference has been earth-shattering: Flores brought in $610,000 in a little less than two months, much more than the $376,000 she'd raised during the previous 10 months. There hasn’t been any polling here in ages, so the outcome is anyone's guess.
● ND-Gov (R): Gov. Jack Dalrymple is retiring, and he and most of the state’s Republican establishment have consolidated behind Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. However, Stenehjem has been outspent by businessman Doug Burgum, a former Microsoft executive. The contest has mostly been positive, but Burgum has attacked Stenehjem for not doing enough to fight Obamacare. The GOP nominee should have little trouble in November.
● VA-02 (R): GOP Rep. Randy Forbes decided to seek this open Hampton Roads seat after redistricting turned his old constituency safely blue. Forbes has not represented any of the 2nd District since at least 2003, but he does have name recognition in the area, as well as the support of retiring Rep. Scott Rigell. State Del. Scott Taylor is portraying Forbes is an outsider while Forbes is arguing that his seniority will be an asset to a district where the military is a huge economic presence.
Forbes has outspent Taylor by a massive $711,000 to $91,000. However, Forbes recently ran a negative ad against Taylor, a sign that he’s taking his opponent seriously. While Romney only narrowly won this seat, the only Democrat in the contest, perennial candidate Shaun Brown, hasn't reported raising any cash at all.
● VA-04 (D): The primary for this new safely blue Richmond seat looks like it will be a layup for state Sen. Don McEachin. McEachin has the backing of Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, while his opponent, Chesapeake City Councilor Ella Ward, doesn't seem to have much support at all. This has been a very sleepy race, with McEachin outspending Ward $34,000 to $14,000.