After House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's shocking defeat, political observers got some extra recovery time last week, when there were no primaries for the first time since April. This week, voters in six states will hit the polls to determine nominees in several important Senate, House, and gubernatorial races. Here are eight to keep an eye on:
The GOP primary in the Magnolia State went to a second round after neither six-term Sen. Thad Cochran nor his tea-party challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, got the majority support necessary on June 3 to avoid a runoff. After finishing just ahead of Cochran in the initial round of voting, McDaniel seems to have the slight upper hand. Both candidates have continued to receive plenty of air cover from outside groups in the weeks since the primary: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Realtors have run TV ads promoting Cochran, while conservative outfits like Club for Growth, Senate Conservatives Action, and Citizens United have aired ads benefiting McDaniel.
The race to replace outgoing Sen. Tom Coburn in Oklahoma has been less expensive and less nasty than the campaign in Mississippi. Rep. James Lankford is looking for a promotion after two terms in office, while T.W. Shannon, considered a rising star in Oklahoma Republican circles, hopes to make the leap from the state House speaker's office. The popular Coburn is officially neutral in the race, though he recently made a statement praising Lankford while condemning outside groups running negative ads in the race, something local observers think could be important. Shannon counts tea-party favorites like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas — who appeared in a pro-Shannon TV spot — and Sarah Palin among his supporters. Oklahoma is another state that mandates runoffs if no candidate reaches 50 percent, and Lankford and Shannon are expected to continue their contest head-to-head until Aug. 26.