Six U.S. Congressional primaries to keep an eye on in 2022


Senate candidate JD Vance, left, greets former President Donald Trump at a rally at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, Saturday, April 23, 2022, in Delaware, Ohio, to endorse Republican candidates ahead of the Ohio primary on May 3. (AP Photo/Joe Maiorana)

(NewsNation) — The 2022 primary season kicks off Tuesday with voters in Indiana and Ohio heading to the polls. Over the next few months, Americans in states across the country will do the same, determining which candidates will face off in the 2022 midterm elections.

Republicans will decide if the GOP is still the party of Donald Trump. The former president has been actively endorsing candidates nationwide, but it remains to be seen how much those endorsements will sway voters.

Meanwhile, Democrats will determine whether the future of the party lies with moderates or the more progressive wing of the party.

Here are some races worth keeping an eye on.

ohio Republican primary (u.s. senate)

Date: May 3

Why it matters: It will be the first indication of how much Trump’s endorsement matters and the extent to which Republican politics remain tied to his agenda.

The race for retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman’s seat has set off a Republican proxy war pitting Trump and his preferred candidate, “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance, against other prominent Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who backs former State Treasurer Josh Mandel.

But the field is crowded, and other candidates have also received support from current and former Trump allies. Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s 2016 campaign manager, is backing former Ohio state GOP Chairwoman Jane Timken, while Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has endorsed businessman Mike Gibbons.

Candidates to watch: Matt Dolan (Ohio state senator), Gibbons (businessman), Mandel (former state treasurer), Timken (former Ohio GOP chairwoman), Vance (author and venture capitalist).

pennsylvania republican primary (u.s. Senate)

Date: May 17

Why it matters: It’s another early race that will reveal whether the former president’s blessing makes a difference. Dr. Mehmet Oz, the heart surgeon-turned-daytime television star, earned Trump’s endorsement in April, but his primary challenger David McCormick has been endorsed by some of the former president’s top aides, including Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Mike Pompeo.

The outcome of the primary will set up a statewide general election that could determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate moving forward. Pennsylvania is a state President Joe Biden was able to flip in 2020 after it went to Trump in 2016.

Candidates to watch: Oz (former heart surgeon and host of “The Dr. Oz show”), McCormick (former hedge fund CEO).

pennsylvania democratic primary (u.s. senate)

Date: May 17

Why it matters: On the other side of the aisle, Democrats are hoping to flip the seat currently held by retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey. If they are successful, it means the party could maintain its slim majority in the U.S. Senate.

The state’s Democratic lieutenant governor, John Fetterman, is currently leading in the polls. He faces challengers in U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb and Malcolm Kenyatta, a state representative from Philadelphia.

Candidates to watch: Fetterman (lieutenant governor), Lamb (U.S. congressman), Kenyatta (state representative).

OREGON DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY (U.S. House  Oregon District 5)

Date: May 17

Why it matters: One of only two House Democrats to vote against last year’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill, incumbent Rep. Kurt Schrader has faced mounting criticism from the progressive wing of his party. Enter attorney Jaime McCleod-Skinner, who has earned endorsements from labor unions and influential Democrats including Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

But moderate Democrats fear a McCleod-Skinner primary victory will put the party’s seat at risk in a congressional district that is expected to be more competitive following last year’s redistricting, according to Politico.

Last week, President Joe Biden endorsed Schrader, who’s seeking an eighth term in office. It was the president’s first endorsement of the primary season.

Candidates to watch: Schrader (incumbent congressman), McCleod-Skinner (attorney and school board member).


Date: May 24

Why it matters: It’s another race where a moderate incumbent is attempting to stave off a progressive challenger.

The primary is headed to a runoff after nine-term congressman Rep. Henry Cuellar failed to secure 50 percent of the votes in a previous March vote.

Cuellar is being challenged from his left by 28-year-old Jessica Cisneros, an immigration attorney and former intern in Cuellar’s office. A supporter of a Green New Deal, Cisneros has received support from a number of high-profile progressive figures such as Rep. Alexandria-Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Candidates to watch: Cuellar (incumbent congressman), Cisneros (immigration attorney).

wyoming Republican primary (u.s. house)

Date: August 16

Why it matters: Former President Trump’s most outspoken critic on the right, Rep. Liz Cheney, will try to defend her seat against a Trump-endorsed opponent, attorney Harriet Hageman. The two are vying for Wyoming’s one and only seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Despite her criticism of Trump, Cheney has a staunch conservative record. If the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney is able to hold off Hageman, it will show the limits of Trump’s influence in a deeply conservative state. If Cheney loses, it may indicate that loyalty to the former president is vital to winning Republican support.

Candidates to watch: Cheney (incumbent congresswoman), Hageman (attorney and former Republican National Committee member).

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