15 elections to watch in New York, Colorado, Utah and South Carolina

ByGeoffrey Skelley ABCNews logo
Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Reps. Lauren Boebert and Jamaal Bowman couldn't be more different politically - but their careers have followed similar arcs. Both were first elected in 2020, defeating entrenched incumbents in the primary. They have both become nationally famous (and infamous) avatars of the far right and far left, respectively. Both won reelection underwhelmingly in 2022, and both of their political careers could come to an ignominious end on June 25, 2024, as they once again face serious challengers in their respective primaries.

Boebert's and Bowman's primaries are just two of the many tense contests taking place on a jam-packed election day on June 25. In fact, there are no fewer than 15 key races we'll be watching closely when we live-blog the returns on Tuesday night. Here's a full guide to the candidates, the odds and the stakes in each of them.

South Carolina

Races to watch: 3rd Congressional District

Polls close: 7 p.m. Eastern

Palmetto State primary voters went to the polls on June 11, but one notable race went to a runoff: the GOP nomination contest in the open and solidly red 3rd District. In the first round of voting, pastor Mark Burns ran slightly ahead of Air National Guard Lt. Col. Sheri Biggs, 33 percent to 29 percent. And Burns is probably favored on Tuesday thanks to his endorsement from former President Donald Trump, which Burns has highlighted in ads ahead of the runoff. He also received an endorsement from state Rep. Stewart Jones, who finished third in the primary with 19 percent. Moreover, Burns had $111,000 in the bank versus Biggs's $43,000 as of June 5, and Burns further improved his financial standing with a $250,000 loan on June 7. That brought his total campaign loans this cycle to $750,000, for which The Post and Courier found Burns had received extremely favorable terms that could run counter to campaign finance laws.

Still, Biggs can't be counted out due to outside spending. Conservatives for American Excellence and America Leads Actions, two super PACs that have opposed more anti-establishment candidates this cycle, have spent $510,000 to oppose Burns or boost Biggs during the runoff campaign, while Burns has received just $59,000 in outside support. This opposition to Burns may connect to his controversial past: A high-profile Trump surrogate in 2016, he retweeted a fake photo of Hillary Clinton in blackface, and in 2022 he called for the execution and arrest of those who support transgender and other LGBTQ children. In a June 18 debate, Burns also faced questions about 2016-era revelations that his church website biography falsely claimed that he'd obtained a bachelor's degree and had served in the Army Reserve.

New York

Races to watch: 1st, 16th, 22nd and 24th congressional districts

Polls close: 9 p.m. Eastern

In Tuesday's marquee race, Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman could lose renomination against Westchester County Executive George Latimer in New York's dark blue 16th District. This race is defined by internal Democratic divisions over the Israel-Gaza conflict, the influence of pro-Israel groups and controversies about Bowman's past behavior. Bowman has joined with fellow members of the progressive "Squad" and some other Democrats to criticize and oppose U.S. support for Israel, a position that made him a major target for pro-Israel groups.

Bowman lacks a strong electoral record, having won only 54 percent of the primary vote in his first reelection campaign in 2022. He also attracted scrutiny last September when he pulled a fire alarm in a Capitol Hill office building just before a high-profile vote to avoid a government shutdown, for which he was censured by the House and had to pay a fine. On top of this, old blog posts by Bowman came to light in January that included conspiracy theories about the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. All of this has helped boost the primary challenge from Latimer, who's also built up a strong local political reputation in Westchester County - where 9 in 10 of the district's voters live, according to Daily Kos Elections.

Still, the big story is Latimer's support from pro-Israel donors and organizations. Latimer has raised $5.8 million, $2.4 million of which came via individual donors who used the American Israel Public Affairs Committee as a conduit to contribute to his campaign. This has helped give him a financial leg up on Bowman, who has raised $4.3 million. And the monetary disparity grows far starker when we look at outside spending. Groups have spent a whopping $17.7 million either opposing Bowman or supporting Latimer, according to OpenSecrets, while they've spent only $3.0 million attacking Latimer or boosting Bowman. As a result, this has turned into the most expensive House primary on record, according to AdImpact.

The principal group behind the massive spending is United Democracy Project, a super PAC affiliated with AIPAC, which has forked out $14.6 million on the race to take down Bowman. Despite the pro-Israel connection, the group's ads rarely mention the ongoing conflict, instead criticizing Bowman on issues such as not supporting President Joe Biden's position on a major infrastructure package in 2021 and a debt ceiling deal in 2023. Bowman and his allies haven't taken this lying down. In the last primary debate, Bowman attacked the "racist MAGA Republicans" - a reference to AIPAC's bipartisan sources of financial backing - supporting Latimer, a criticism leveled in ads put out by Bowman and outside groups backing him.

The most recent survey of the race - an Emerson College/The Hill/WPIX poll from early June - found Latimer ahead of Bowman 48 percent to 31 percent, which signals just how in danger Bowman is of becoming the first Democratic incumbent to lose renomination in 2024.

Up in the central New York-based 22nd District, Republican Rep. Brandon Williams ranks among Democrats' top targets in the House because Biden would have carried this seat by 11 percentage points in 2020, according to Daily Kos Elections. The two-way race for the Democratic nomination features DeWitt Town Councilor Sarah Klee Hood and state Sen. John Mannion in what looks to be a competitive tilt. Klee Hood narrowly lost the 2022 Democratic primary here, and she's led in fundraising with $1.4 million to Mannion's $869,000. However, Mannion represents nearly 30 percent of this seat in the state Senate, and the former high school teacher has also received $302,000 in outside spending support from teachers unions.

The only survey we've seen of this race was a late March poll by GBAO for Mannion's campaign that found him ahead 42 percent to 20 percent, but that was three months ago. Klee Hood, an Air Force veteran, has emphasized her unwavering support for abortion rights, a potential opening due to criticism Mannion has received for past comments in which he stated support for existing restrictions on abortion access. In his ads, Mannion has promised to defend abortion rights and has highlighted his long career in education. But last week, a group of former aides to Mannion accused him of creating a hostile work environment by screaming and cursing at them, while also accusing Mannion's wife of discomforting behavior and making transphobic remarks. Mannion pushed back at the allegations, arguing that he'd never had a workplace complaint filed against him and questioning the late-breaking claims as a "false political attack."

On Long Island, Democrats hope to seriously contest the 1st District, a seat Trump would've won by 2 points in 2020, which is currently held by first-term Republican Rep. Nick LaLota. Former CNN political commentator John Avlon and organic chemist Nancy Goroff are battling for the Democratic nomination. Goroff has outraised Avlon $2.3 million to $1.8 million, but her advantage stems from $1.2 million in self-funding. Avlon has received many endorsements from party leaders, who seem to view him as the more electable pick. In the same vein, the WelcomePAC has spent nearly $1.7 million on ads that claim Goroff - who lost here as the Democratic nominee in 2020 - is a choice the party "can't afford." But Goroff's campaign has promoted her backing from pro-abortion rights groups EMILYs List and Planned Parenthood while hitting Avlon for his past ties to the GOP, including his work as an aide to Republican Rudy Giuliani during Giuliani's tenure as New York City's mayor.

Lastly, in the solidly red 24th District in Upstate New York, Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney faces a primary challenge from businessman Mario Fratto, who held Tenney to a 14-point win in her 2022 primary race. Having previously represented a seat located more in central New York, Tenney opted to run in the new 24th District in 2022 after redistricting even though she previously represented very little of it. Her weak performance partly reflected that unfamiliarity, but she's now a better-known quantity to voters in the region (and the 24th didn't change that much on a new map implemented earlier this year).

Still, Fratto has tried to get to Tenney's right by claiming she's a "RINO" - Republican in name only - who has been insufficiently conservative in office. He's self-funded most of his challenge, raising $508,000 overall, but that's put him well behind Tenney's $2.0 million in receipts. Tenney has accused Fratto of being close to Nick Fuentes, a white supremacist and antisemitic leader - a claim Fratto denies. But she also felt threatened enough to run ads promoting her endorsement from Trump and attacking Fratto as "dangerously liberal."


Races to watch: 3rd, 4th, 5th and 8th congressional districts

Polls close: 9 p.m. Eastern

After coming within 600 votes of losing her seat in the 2022 midterm election and enduring an awful year in her personal life, Rep. Lauren Boebert has ditched Colorado's 3rd District to attempt to win over Republican voters on the other side of the state, in the 4th District. This seat, which was previously held by Republican Rep. Ken Buck - who resigned earlier this year after announcing his retirement last year - is more reliably red, having gone for Trump by a margin of 19 percentage points in 2020 (compared to an 8-point margin in the 3rd). So if Boebert can secure the GOP nomination, she'll all but guarantee herself a spot in the next Congress.

Standing in her way are some primary candidates with more local cachet, such as former state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and Deborah Flora, a former Miss Colorado and local talk radio host. However, Boebert has a major fundraising advantage (she's raised $3.7 million, compared to the next-highest raiser, Flora, who's raised less than half a million), as well as Trump's endorsement, and the sole poll we have for this race shows her up 35 percentage points. So she's definitely got a solid shot at the primary in her new district.

In addition to the race to fill this seat in the 119th Congress, there is a separate special election to see out Buck's term. Greg Lopez, the Republican nominee who pledged not to run for the full term, is favored to win that race.

With Boebert out of the picture on the Western Slope, the GOP primary for the Centennial State's 3rd District has been heating up. A whopping 11 candidates originally filed to run for the GOP nomination in this district, but only five serious contenders are on the primary ballot: attorney Jeff Hurd, former state Rep. Ron Hanks, retired businessman Lew Webb, Colorado Board of Education member Stephen Varela and businessman Russ Andrews.

Hurd has a clear fundraising advantage here, with over $1 million in his war chest, compared to the next-highest fundraiser on the ballot, Andrews, who brought in $423,000. Hurd's haul includes cash infusions from the Koch brothers and other conservative PACs like the Mainstreet Partnership, and the national cattlemen's and automobile dealers' associations. But Hanks, a more MAGA-aligned candidate who ran for Senate in 2022, is getting some outside support as well ... from Democrats. As they did in 2022, Democratic groups have been airing pro-Hanks ads, presumably betting that a candidate like Hanks - an election denier who once dubbed himself a "pro-Trump warrior" - would be a weaker general election candidate. Still, it seems like Hurd has the edge: A June poll showed him with an 18-point lead. Whoever wins will most likely face off this fall against presumed Democratic nominee Adam Frisch, the business owner who nearly unseated Boebert in 2022.

In the 5th District, around Colorado Springs, there's a competitive GOP race to replace retiring GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn. The battle is between conservative radio host Jeff Crank and Dave Williams, the state GOP chair. Along with his talk radio gig, Crank has a background in politics, having previously worked as a regional vice president for Americans for Prosperity, and a staffer for former Rep. Joel Hefley.

Crank is the more traditional conservative pick, whereas Williams, a former state representative, has made a name for himself in the state as a MAGA provocateur and has been endorsed by the political arm of the far-right House Freedom Caucus. In 2022, when he challenged Lamborn in the primary, Williams petitioned (and failed) to add the slogan "Let's Go Brandon" to his name on the ballot, and as leader of the state party, he has taken it on a polarizing and notably hard-right tack. Under his leadership, the party advised county canvass boards not to certify the 2022 election results, and has sent out emails calling LGBTQ+ pride month "evil." It has also started endorsing candidates in primaries, something the party historically remained neutral on.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this has led conservative power brokers to dump millions into the race: The Koch Brothers' PAC has spent over $100,000 supporting Crank, while a super PAC of Republican megadonors has spent $1.2 million opposing Williams. As the only district in the state to have never been represented by a Democrat in Congress, the GOP primary will be a crucial one to watch to see if the ranks of the Freedom Caucus are likely to grow by one.

Lastly, the Republican primary in Colorado's 8th District - one of the most competitive House districts in the nation - is also causing a bit of intraparty drama. Republicans here are hoping to unseat first-term Democratic incumbent Rep. Yadira Caraveo in this highly competitive district that spans the Denver suburbs and rural counties to the north. (Caraveo is the first person to hold the seat, which was created after apportionment in the 2022 cycle.) At first blush, Gabe Evans would seem like a shoo-in for this race. He's an Army vet, former police officer and former state representative who has outraised his competitor, and he's been endorsed by both Trump and the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity. But his competitor, retired doctor and former state Rep. Janak Joshi, got the controversial state party endorsement. As a result, it's unclear which direction the voters in this district may ultimately go, and if the candidate they choose will be strong enough to defeat Caraveo.


Races to watch: U.S. Senate; 1st, 2nd and 3rd congressional districts; governor

Polls close: 10 p.m. Eastern

Utah and all its congressional districts may be safely Republican, but the MAGA faction of the party is looking to pick up seats from the traditional Republican faction in Tuesday's primaries.

At the top of the list is the state's open U.S. Senate seat, currently held by anti-Trump Sen. Mitt Romney. The front-runner to replace him is Rep. John Curtis, whose temperament - and attitude toward Trump - are closest to Romney's. Although he hasn't taken a high-profile stand against Trump like voting for impeachment, Curtis declined to endorse Trump during this year's presidential primaries and has avoided commenting on Trump's legal issues. Another tell: Though Romney hasn't made an endorsement, much of the incumbent's political operation is behind Curtis, who is known on Capitol Hill for being the rare Republican to talk about climate change and for owning 300 pairs of quirky dress socks.

Curtis faces three opponents who are, to varying degrees, more enthusiastic about Trump. Former state House Speaker Brad Wilson has raised the most money ($2.0 million from donors, $3.0 million from himself), but his efforts to strike a happy medium between moderate and MAGA (he introduced a resolution to pay tribute to Trump shortly after his second impeachment but also blocked an effort to censure Romney for voting to convict; he endorsed Trump for president, but only after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis dropped out) may end up pleasing no one. Meanwhile, businessman Jason Walton has vocally defended Trump and is well funded thanks to a $2.5 million loan to his own campaign, but Trump himself opted to support underfunded Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs instead.

That surprising endorsement may have cost MAGA Republicans their best shot at defeating Curtis. Not only has Curtis raised $3.8 million on his own, but outside groups largely funded by moderate Republican donors have spent a whopping $9.6 million to help him or hurt Staggs. As a result, a June 4-6 poll from HarrisX/the Deseret News/the University of Utah put Curtis at 47 percent support, with Wilson (24 percent), Staggs (21 percent) and Walton (8 percent) well behind.

The Republican primary to replace Curtis in Utah's 3rd District, on the other hand, is far more unsettled. In the absence of any polls, fundraising numbers make this look like a two-person race between trampoline baron Case Lawrence and Roosevelt Mayor Rod Bird. Lawrence, who founded the indoor trampoline park chain Sky Zone, has brought in $2.8 million ($2.5 million of which was self-funded) and has styled himself as an optimistic problem-solver opposed to hardline tactics like government shutdowns. By contrast, Bird, who loaned himself $1.0 million of the $1.2 million he's raised, has used more partisan language and has pledged to "tie the hands of Congress" unless it balances the budget.

Three other candidates, though, could still be factors despite being underfunded. State Sen. Mike Kennedy has the backing of conservative Sen. Mike Lee and, while he's raised only $587,000, he has raised more from individual donors than any other candidate. Romney, meanwhile, is supporting his nephew-in-law, former Utah County GOP Chair Stewart Peay. And state Auditor John Dougall is running as the race's only explicit anti-Trump candidate.

Finally, we'll be keeping an eye on three mild-mannered Republican incumbents who are probably safe for reelection but have displeased the GOP's right flank enough to earn a primary challenge.

For example, hardline state Rep. Phil Lyman won the state GOP's official endorsement for governor over incumbent Gov. Spencer Cox at an April party convention, but the HarrisX/Deseret News/University of Utah poll earlier this month showed Cox leading Lyman 71 percent to 29 percent among the broader primary electorate. (Republican conventions in Utah, which are largely attended by dogmatic party activists, tend to be more conservative in their tastes than voters.) Similarly, in the 1st District, electrician Paul Miller defeated Rep. Blake Moore at the party convention and could tap into some level of discontent with Moore's moderate voting record, but he's raised all of $4,706 for the cycle, so he's unlikely to actually defeat the incumbent.

Rep. Celeste Maloy may have more reason to look over her shoulder in the 2nd District; not only did she lose at the convention, but she only narrowly won the Republican nomination for this seat in a 2023 special election with 39 percent of the vote. Her opponent this time around, Army veteran Colby Jenkins, has also raised a credible $379,000, and tea party-aligned outside groups have spent $534,000 to support him. But while Jenkins has the influential support of Lee, Trump's last-minute endorsement of Maloy may have halted Jenkins's momentum.

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