A titan of the Senate faces defeat, a gay-marriage ban looks set to pass, and Democrats nominate a candidate for the recall of Scott Walker.
The presidential primaries are finally over, but across the country, the real political pre-season is just heating up. On Tuesday, voters go to the polls in Indiana, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and West Virginia, and the votes they cast will have far-reaching implications -- from ousting one of the longest-serving Republicans in the Senate to prohibiting same-sex unions in the last Southern state that hadn't already done so to nominating an opponent in the recall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. (The Republican presidential candidates will also be on the ballot in Indiana, North Carolina, and West Virginia, but with Mitt Romney officially the presumptive nominee and only Ron Paul still competing against him, the action is elsewhere on the states' primary ballots.)
Here's a briefing on tonight's contests.
1. Does Lugar go down? Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar is a six-term incumbent who has never even faced a primary opponent since his initial election in 1976. He's a political titan in both Indiana and Washington, where he has a reputation as a serious-minded bipartisan -- his work with then-Sen. Barack Obama on nuclear nonproliferation was highlighted in a 2008 Obama presidential campaign ad. Back home, Republicans were none too pleased with that, and state Treasurer Richard Mourdock set out to retire Lugar by making the case that he was insufficiently conservative and out of touch with his constituents -- a criticism embarrassingly underscored a few months ago when a local election board ruled Lugar wasn't a resident for voting purposes. National conservative groups have poured money into anti-Lugar ads, and Lugar's campaign has been slow to respond, with the result that he's now considered almost certain to lose; one recent poll showed him trailing Mourdock by 10 points. What does it mean for the general election? While Democrats believe they have a better shot against the strongly conservative Mourdock than the moderate Lugar, Indiana is still likely an uphill battle for Democrats.