WASHINGTON — Rep. Mark Sanford, a Republican who represents South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, will soon see if losing the support of the president is lethal in a GOP primary.
Sanford, a conservative who has frequently criticized the president, is facing a primary challenge from state Rep. Katie Arrington. Arrington has campaigned on being a Trump ally. Tuesday, less than three hours before polls closed, Arrington was rewarded with an endorsement from the president who said Sanford was “very unhelpful” and “nothing but trouble.”
Sanford isn’t the only candidate holding his breath to see if he’ll make it to the general election in November. Polls closed in South Carolina and Virginia at 7 p.m. ET Tuesday and will close shortly in Maine, North Dakota and Nevada.
Like Sanford, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is facing a competitive primary. But unlike Sanford, McMaster — who was an early endorser of the president’s — has gotten Trump’s blessing. If McMaster doesn’t get the majority of the vote Tuesday against his two competitors he will be forced into a runoff later this month.
Voters in Maine and Nevada will also be voting for their candidate for governor, but both parties will be choosing their nominee because their current governors are term-limited and will finish their terms this year.
In Virginia, Democrats see Virginia’s 10th Congressional District as a top pickup opportunity in November. But first, someone must emerge from the crowded field.
There are also full primaries for two open seats in Nevada, both held by Democrats but considered competitive in the fall.
Democrats are watching who makes it out of the primary for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. The district is held by a Republican but used to be represented by a Democrat and the left is hoping a wave election and the right candidate could put it back in their hands.
Virginia Republicans are also holding their breath to see if Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chair Corey Stewart is their GOP nominee for Senate. While Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine is considered mostly safe in his race, Republicans are hoping to make the general election competitive. That’ll be difficult if Stewart is elected, polling has Kaine up by double-digits. Stewart ran unsuccessfully for his party’s nomination for governor last year. He campaigned on confederate monuments.
While Nevada and North Dakota will be two of the most interesting general election races, no surprises are expected Tuesday. Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is likely to face the state’s single House member GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer in the fall. Republican Sen. Dean Heller escaped what was shaping up to be a competitive primary challenge from businessman Danny Tarkanian when Trump asked Tarkanian to leave the race and run for the nomination for Nevada’s 3rd District instead. Tarkanian narrowly lost the general election for that seat in 2016.
In Maine, voters spent Tuesday ranking their candidates in a new voting system called Instant Runoff Voting. First-choice votes are counted and if no one got over 50% the candidate with the lowest number of votes is removed from the race. Those who gave that candidate their first-choice pick have their votes redirected to their second choice. The process is repeated until a candidate has a majority of the vote and is declared the winner.
Supporters of the system say it ensures the winner receives the majority of the vote and is more Democratic, while critics worried it would be confusing and could delay results. Voters used the system Tuesday at the same time they voted on a provision that would repeal ranked-choice voting.