What to watch on primary day


Primary elections in Georgia, Colorado, Minnesota and Connecticut on Tuesday will provide perhaps the best snapshot of the electorate’s mood since May 18, when Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter was ousted in a Democratic primary and Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln was forced into a runoff by Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. Here’s POLITICO’s guide on the top races to watch.

Colorado’s Senate shootout

There was a time when it looked like appointed Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet and former Republican Lt. Gov. Jane Norton were headed for a conventional general election race. That was before primary challengers Andrew Romanoff, the former Democratic state House speaker who has Bill Clinton’s endorsement, and Ken Buck, the tea-party-aligned district attorney from Weld County, caught fire. Now, there’s a real possibility that neither major party will head into the fall campaign with its preferred nominee.

On the Democratic side, Bennet is both the establishment favorite and the political newcomer, named to the Senate by Gov. Bill Ritter after a career in corporate law and stints as an aide to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and as head of the city’s public school system. Romanoff, in contrast, is a seasoned pol who helped build up the Colorado Democratic Party. Among the Republicans, it’s the upstart Buck who’s new to high-level politics and rough around the edges, and his campaign has suffered in recent weeks from several embarrassing gaffes — including one in which he took aim at Norton’s footwear.

Buck appears to have an advantage over Norton, while both a Denver Post poll and an internal Bennet campaign survey last week showed the Democratic candidates within 5 percentage points of each other. A New York Times story published Friday reporting that Bennet had engaged in borrowing practices that cost Denver schools millions of dollars could affect the senator’s vote total, though early voting may have mitigated damage from the story.

The bad-to-worse gubernatorial primary

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