Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley speaks to the media outside the US Supreme Court following oral arguments in the case of McCullen v. Coakley, dealing with a Massachusetts law imposing a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics for demonstrations and protests, in Washington, DC, January 15, 2014. An anti-abortion protestor, Eleanor McCullen of Newton, Massachusetts, argues that the 2007 state law restricts her free speech rights under the First Amendment, while the state and Planned Parenthood argue they provide protection for individuals going to the clinics and provide a way to maintain public safety. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)National Journal

This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal

MASSACHUSETTS

The main event in Massachusetts this year is the governor's race, which looked at one point like it might get interesting but now seems firmly in place as the triumphant first step of Attorney General Martha Coakley's political-comeback bid. The Democrat stunningly lost her Senate special election to Scott Brown in 2010, but she's now the front-runner to be the next Massachusetts governor.

Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Steve Grossman, the state treasurer, has made gains in recent public polling, coinciding with heavy TV advertising by his campaign and a supportive super PAC. But Grossman has still never come close to Coakley, who will likely face a tougher test from Republican Charlie Baker in the general election.

There's a chance the Democratic primary in Massachusetts's 6th Congressional District could be more competitive. Rep. John Tierney has been dogged for several years by his family's legal trouble stemming from offshore gambling, which contributed to him facing competitive general elections in 2010 and 2012. This year, Democratic Marine veteran Seth Moulton, a political novice, decided to make Tierney work for renomination, too. And even without the rich public polling available on the gubernatorial race, there are signs the primary could be close. Tierney made a late investment in a negative TV ad that links Moulton to Republicans—"tea partiers who say they'll end the Medicare guarantee," the narrator says—via one GOP-aligned PAC that donated to the challenger.

Five states will wrap on this year's primary elections Tuesday, and four have some interesting races. Delaware voters also go to the polls this week, but both Democratic Sen. Christopher Coons and Democratic Rep. John Carney are heavy favorites for reelection in November.

MASSACHUSETTS

The main event in Massachusetts this year is the governor's race, which looked at one point like it might get interesting but now seems firmly in place as the triumphant first step of Attorney General Martha Coakley's political-comeback bid. The Democrat stunningly lost her Senate special election to Scott Brown in 2010, but she's now the front-runner to be the next Massachusetts governor.

Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Steve Grossman, the state treasurer, has made gains in recent public polling, coinciding with heavy TV advertising by his campaign and a supportive super PAC. But Grossman has still never come close to Coakley, who will likely face a tougher test from Republican Charlie Baker in the general election.

There's a chance the Democratic primary in Massachusetts's 6th Congressional District could be more competitive. Rep. John Tierney has been dogged for several years by his family's legal trouble stemming from offshore gambling, which contributed to him facing competitive general elections in 2010 and 2012. This year, Democratic Marine veteran Seth Moulton, a political novice, decided to make Tierney work for renomination, too. And even without the rich public polling available on the gubernatorial race, there are signs the primary could be close. Tierney made a late investment in a negative TV ad that links Moulton to Republicans—"tea partiers who say they'll end the Medicare guarantee," the narrator says—via one GOP-aligned PAC that donated to the challenger.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

The Granite State, with its early presidential primaries, is one of the bastions of traditional retail politics. But its late congressional primaries have witnessed a flood of newfangled super PAC spending. In the 1st District, former GOP Rep. Frank Guinta's comeback bid has been complicated by hundreds of thousands of outside dollars supporting Dan Innis, one of a few openly gay Republican House candidates this year. A local super PAC funded by an Innis patron and a group formed to back pro-gay-marriage Republicans have collectively spent more than $800,000 boosting the underdog, mostly on TV ads, according to Federal Election Commission reports.

Meanwhile, the Club for Growth has spent nearly a half-million dollars in the neighboring 2nd District helping Marilinda Garcia and attacking Gary Lambert, who's been tabbed as a marquee candidate by the National Republican Congressional Committee. Polling at the beginning of August, just as the race was starting to heat up, showed that Garcia was better-known than Lambert—a key stat in a primary. Innis, meanwhile, remained much less-known than Guinta, who represented the district for two years. But both stats came before the final, frantic, and expensive last few weeks of the race.

Both districts, especially the 1st, could be battlegrounds in the fall. Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter lost to Guinta in 2010 before beating him in 2012, while Rep. Ann Kuster's 2nd District is less closely divided but still competitive.

Meanwhile, Brown, the former Massachusetts senator, is expected to coast to victory in the GOP Senate primary. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has already launched TV ads against him, following months of attacks from Democratic outside groups ahead of his matchup with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

RHODE ISLAND

Any one of three big names could win the Democratic gubernatorial primary Tuesday. State Treasurer Gina Raimondo led a mid-August poll narrowly, but both Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and political scion Clay Pell were in striking distance close behind. Each would bring something interesting to the general election.

Raimondo, who would be the state's first woman governor, has won acclaim and built up recognition outside the state for her work on pension reform, though she made enemies of many Rhode Island labor unions in the process. But Rhode Island's public-sector unions have split between Taveras, the Providence mayor and potentially the state's first Hispanic governor, and Pell, the grandson of the late, iconic Sen. Claiborne Pell.

All would be favored to win the governor's mansion, but Republicans could make a strong push. (No Democrat has won a gubernatorial election here since 1990; current Democratic Gov. Lincoln Chafee was an independent when he was elected in 2010.)

NEW YORK

"But New York's primaries were in June," you say. And the Empire State did in fact cast congressional primary ballots at the beginning of the summer. That's because a federal judge ruled in 2012 that the state's traditional September primary was too late to get military absentee ballots ready in time for November. He didn't have jurisdiction over New York's state-level elections, though, so those are still happening at the back end of the primary calendar.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to win the Democratic nomination handily, though there have been some suggestions that, after a troubled summer politically, his margin against law school professor Zephyr Teachout could be slimmer than he'd like. The result of the lieutenant governor primary, though, could actually cause Cuomo issues. The New York Post reported last week that ex-Rep. Kathy Hochul, an upstate moderate running with Cuomo's support, could end up in a tight Democratic primary with the more-liberal Tim Wu. If Wu were to win, that could split Cuomo's support in the general election, since governor and lieutenant governor nominees run as a ticket—and Hochul already has other nominations, like that of New York's Working Families Party, locked down. Votes for different tickets would be tallied separately, pulling Cuomo's total vote down.

It's exactly the issue Cuomo tried to avoid by negotiating the WFP line for himself without a primary earlier this year, though the governor could wriggle out of this hypothetical if Hochul were nominated for a judgeship by Sept. 16, allowing her to vacate the ballot.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

The Granite State, with its early presidential primaries, is one of the bastions of traditional retail politics. But its late congressional primaries have witnessed a flood of newfangled super PAC spending. In the 1st District, former GOP Rep. Frank Guinta's comeback bid has been complicated by hundreds of thousands of outside dollars supporting Dan Innis, one of a few openly gay Republican House candidates this year. A local super PAC funded by an Innis patron and a group formed to back pro-gay-marriage Republicans have collectively spent more than $800,000 boosting the underdog, mostly on TV ads, according to Federal Election Commission reports.

Meanwhile, the Club for Growth has spent nearly a half-million dollars in the neighboring 2nd District helping Marilinda Garcia and attacking Gary Lambert, who's been tabbed as a marquee candidate by the National Republican Congressional Committee. Polling at the beginning of August, just as the race was starting to heat up, showed that Garcia was better-known than Lambert—a key stat in a primary. Innis, meanwhile, remained much less-known than Guinta, who represented the district for two years. But both stats came before the final, frantic, and expensive last few weeks of the race.

Both districts, especially the 1st, could be battlegrounds in the fall. Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter lost to Guinta in 2010 before beating him in 2012, while Rep. Ann Kuster's 2nd District is less closely divided but still competitive.

Meanwhile, Brown, the former Massachusetts senator, is expected to coast to victory in the GOP Senate primary. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has already launched TV ads against him, following months of attacks from Democratic outside groups ahead of his matchup with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

RHODE ISLAND

Any one of three big names could win the Democratic gubernatorial primary Tuesday. State Treasurer Gina Raimondo led a mid-August poll narrowly, but both Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and political scion Clay Pell were in striking distance close behind. Each would bring something interesting to the general election.

Raimondo, who would be the state's first woman governor, has won acclaim and built up recognition outside the state for her work on pension reform, though she made enemies of many Rhode Island labor unions in the process. But Rhode Island's public-sector unions have split between Taveras, the Providence mayor and potentially the state's first Hispanic governor, and Pell, the grandson of the late, iconic Sen. Claiborne Pell.

All would be favored to win the governor's mansion, but Republicans could make a strong push. (No Democrat has won a gubernatorial election here since 1990; current Democratic Gov. Lincoln Chafee was an independent when he was elected in 2010.)

NEW YORK

"But New York's primaries were in June," you say. And the Empire State did in fact cast congressional primary ballots at the beginning of the summer. That's because a federal judge ruled in 2012 that the state's traditional September primary was too late to get military absentee ballots ready in time for November. He didn't have jurisdiction over New York's state-level elections, though, so those are still happening at the back end of the primary calendar.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to win the Democratic nomination handily, though there have been some suggestions that, after a troubled summer politically, his margin against law school professor Zephyr Teachout could be slimmer than he'd like. The result of the lieutenant governor primary, though, could actually cause Cuomo issues. The New York Post reported last week that ex-Rep. Kathy Hochul, an upstate moderate running with Cuomo's support, could end up in a tight Democratic primary with the more-liberal Tim Wu. If Wu were to win, that could split Cuomo's support in the general election, since governor and lieutenant governor nominees run as a ticket—and Hochul already has other nominations, like that of New York's Working Families Party, locked down. Votes for different tickets would be tallied separately, pulling Cuomo's total vote down.

It's exactly the issue Cuomo tried to avoid by negotiating the WFP line for himself without a primary earlier this year, though the governor could wriggle out of this hypothetical if Hochul were nominated for a judgeship by Sept. 16, allowing her to vacate the ballot.

This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.

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