The primary season is not over. Coronavirus dominated the news for nearly four months, and then a black man in Minneapolis, George Floyd, died after being subjected to what can only be described as police brutality. Many parts of the United States have, quite literally, gone up in flames since that day, May 25. On June 2, however, the District of Columbia and eight states will hold primary elections, which have implications for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination and for certain down-ballot races.
The primaries in Maryland, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island were originally scheduled for earlier dates but postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Iowa will all go ahead with their primaries as initially planned.
Will Biden Seal the Deal?
Joe Biden, who has not yet mathematically clinched his party’s nomination, despite a practically insurmountable lead in the delegate count, could finally end the race. He will need at least 425 of the combined 479 delegates up for grabs. With no remaining active challengers, it would be something of an embarrassment were he to come up short, but even then the former vice president would need no more than an additional handful of delegates to wrap things up.
Iowans, who have already made their choice of presidential nominees, will be voting in primaries for four congressional races. One of those seats is currently open, and another is held by Republican Representative Steve King, who fell out of favor following some racially charged remarks. The nine-term congressman has a history of making such statements, and in some cases “racially charged” is a mild description. King has little support at either the federal or local level and could very well lose his seat – although a Republican will almost certainly succeed him.
Republican Senator Joni Ernst, also from Iowa, is up for re-election in November. Her seat is one of those targeted by Democrats hoping to win control of the Senate. Theresa Greenfield, the former CEO of a real estate business, is likely to be Ernst’s Democratic challenger in November, though a total of four Democrats are vying for that opportunity.
Montana Senator Steve Daines (R) also is facing a re-election race this year. His challenger is likely to be failed Democratic presidential candidate Governor Steve Bullock. Both men are widely expected to win their respective primaries. Republican Representative Greg Gianforte and Democratic Lieutenant Governor Mike Cooney are seen as the likely contenders to replace Bullock.
Every campaign has been a challenge, of course, with social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines in force over the past weeks and months. The traditional door-knocking has been replaced by letter and email writing. “Within just 24 hours,” the Associated Press reports Republican National Committee spokeswoman Mandi Merritt as saying, “our teams transitioned to an entirely virtual campaign.” Many restrictions now have been either lifted or relaxed, though, and the in-person voting process itself faces no significant hurdles. States are providing polling station staff with plenty of hand sanitizer and multiple pairs of gloves. A lot of the votes cast, however, will be via mail-in ballots, and so it remains to be seen whether irregularities or legal challenges will arise. The primary season runs through early August, with Connecticut being the last state to go to the polls on Aug. 11.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.