As summer rages on, races for seats all across the country are heating up. Tomorrow, as with most Tuesdays over the past few months, there will be another round of primaries, this time in seven states: Colorado, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, Oklahoma, and Utah, along with a special election in Florida’s Nineteenth Congressional District. While many of these elections are non-stories because of unlikely challengers or major spreads in the polls, three are standing out.
The Mississippi race has been nothing but a bloodbath for both campaigns. With accusations flying from each camp about the other, the polls have been bad for six-term incumbent Thad Cochran, with most Politico polls having him losing to Tea Party favorite Chris McDaniel. Cochran was already humiliated when he netted fewer votes than McDaniel during the first primary race. While Cochran is not out of contention entirely, expect a McDaniel victory.
This race has gone under the radar and deserves more attention. In a crowded primary field to replace Senator Tom Coburn, who is leaving because of health issues, the top-tier candidates, James Lankford and T.W Shannon, are both below 50 percent, with Lankford leading 43 percent to Shannon’s 39 percent. So who are these two candidates?
Congressman Lankford is the current chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee. While his position in leadership may be seen as running counter to the anti-establishment mood in the grassroots of the Republican Party, the Wall Street Journal reports:
Mr. Lankford said he doesn’t think his leadership role will cost him in the election in part because most people in Oklahoma don’t know he is head of the House Republican Policy Committee. “I’m the Rodney Dangerfield of the Republican leadership,” he said.
Shannon is also a well-known officeholder in Oklahoma politics thanks to his role as speaker of the Oklahoma State House. And while Lankford came in with more money, nationally known conservative groups have boosted Shannon. In addition, Shannon has also scored several big-name endorsements, including from Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz. Shannon himself is unique. According to the Oklahoma House official page, he’s registered as an official member of the Chickasaw Nation. His election would provide some interesting diversity to the Republican Party.
How will this race end up? With the slew of other candidates, it is going to be a runoff between the two. One of the major reasons for this runoff is the seeming lack of an “establishment” candidate:
Keith Gaddie, a political science professor at the University of Oklahoma, said most voters in Oklahoma likely don’t regard Mr. Lankford as a member of the D.C. establishment. “At the start of the race, many people outside of the Oklahoma City metro area didn’t even know” who he was, Mr. Gaddie said. “Lankford is only a second-term incumbent. Neither candidate is a political careerist.”
New York House
Charlie Rangel, the fossilized, entrenched incumbent who conservatives love to hate, is facing the political fight of his life, and for good reason. The eighty-four-year-old, who is running for his twenty-third—yes twenty-third—term in Congress, is battling New York State Senator Adriano Espaillat. According to Politico, Espaillat came within 1,100 votes of beating Rangel in 2012. Rangel is also facing a lack of support from former allies:
Even as Rangel capitalizes on his improved health, he faces another new reality: Much of New York City’s political establishment has deserted him. Institutional figures who endorsed Rangel in 2012, including City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., are now behind Espaillat.
The lack of endorsements includes both Hillary Clinton (Bill has endorsed) and the president.
With a long history of ethical questions, including a censure by the House last year, Rangel has been in government for too long. While the polls are in Rangel’s favor, expect a fun fight.