North Carolina has one of the most competitive Senate seats up for grabs in 2014. Because of that, they have at least one fun primary in 2014. Let's look at the other ones, real quick and fire up the prediction machine.
North Carolina 1st Congressional District: Democratic Incumbent G.K. Butterfield is running for re-election. He is facing the same challenger he disposed of in 2012, Dan Whittacre. Whittacre probably doesn't stand much of a chance against Butterfield in the primary, Butterfield has been the Representative since 2004. Butterfield also won about 75% of the vote in the general election in 2012. The Republican candidates vying for the nomination to run against Butterfield are Arthur Rich and Brent Shypulefski. Rich ran for the Republican lieutenant Governor candidacy in 2012 but lost in the Republican primary. I think Rich has the name recognition to have a good shot of winning the candidacy. But Shypulefski is running as the outsider candidate, already. It's possible that he could pull off the upset of Rich in the primary.
North Carolina 2nd Congressional District: This one could potentially be fun. The 2nd District could be a close race. Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers won this district in 2012 with about 56% of the vote. The Democratic primary sees former singer Clay Aiken, businessman Keith Crisco Sr., and former candidate Toni Morris battling to be the Democratic nominee. Crisco has raised over $100,000 in his bid to be the nominee. Aiken's financial disclosures haven't been released and Morris has not raised very much. I think Aiken's potential name recognition will be the one that wins the day to be the Democratic nominee. Frank Roche, meanwhile, is challenging Ellmers in the Republican Primary. Just browsing his website, he wants to end political correctness. I assume he is saying this non-ironically. As much as I would love to see him attempt to end political correctness by committing a series of political gaffes while running for office, I think Ellmers is pretty safe. But this is one district that will get a closer look as we get closer to the primaries and into the general election.
North Carolina 3rd Congressional District: This one was going to be interesting until potential Democratic candidate Jason Thigpen decided not to run. There is only one filed Democratic candidate in this conservative district. Republican incumbent Walter Jones has two challengers. Jones was outraised in the 4th quarter by Taylor Griffin. It's possible that Griffin would be able to beat Jones in the primary, but I think Jones is still the favorite. At least for now. This is a primary worth re-visiting, if only because it is a de facto general election.
North Carolina 4th Congressional District: There is only one candidate running for each party's nomination.
North Carolina 5th Congressional District: Incumbent Republican Virginia Foxx declined to run for the competitive Senate seat and instead decided to focus on winning re-election to the House. Foxx has raised a large amount of money and will survive her primary challenge from Phillip Doyle. Foxx won nearly 58% of the vote in 2012 and should be favored to win re-election. There are four Democratic candidates challenging to face Foxx. The candidates are Josh Brannon, Michael Holleman, Will Stinson, and Gardenia Henley. Henley tried to run for governor in 2012 but lost in the Democratic primary. Holleman and Stinson are failed candidates for the State House of Representatives and Board of Commissioners, respectively. Brannon initially filed to run for the State's House of Representatives before choosing to run in this election, instead. None of the Democratic candidates inspire much confidence or Google searches. It's kind of depressing. But oh well. We'll look at it again, later.
North Carolina's 6th Congressional District: Longtime Congressman Howard Coble decided that he would retire instead of running another election. The Republican primary should be pretty competitive with eight people filing to run. Based on name recognition and fundraising prowess, I would say Phil Berger Jr is the favorite for now. But never discount the impact of the Religiou Right on primaries, Mark Walker, a paastor, should be able to win those voters. Bruce VanCannon is a former Democrat who "converted" to the Republican Party and has been able to fundraise at an acceptable level. Don Webb also brings something to the table. Jeff Phillips could end up being the darkhorse, he mounted an unsuccessful primary challenge in the past. For the Democratic side, it appears that former UNC general counsel Laura Field is the early favorite. County Commissioner Bruce Davis could be a formidable foe, but he has not filed his fundraising with the FEC, so it's hard to say for certain. But this one will be fun to watch.
North Carolina's 7th Congressional District: Democratic Congressman Mike McIntyre announced that he would not run for re-election in 2014. McIntyre had won election by about 600 votes in 2012. Because of the close election and the fundamentals of the district, he was listed as top competition in 2014 by the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee. Jonathan Barfield, New Hanover County Commissioner, is the only Democratic candidate filed. David Rouzer, former State Senator, who ran in 2012 narrowly lost to McIntyre in 2012, has filed to run again. He is the current leader in fundraising and is considered the favorite for the nomination because, in part, of his name recognition. Woody White, a New Hanover County Commissioner, is also running for the Republican nomination. He secured the endorsement of a group fighting illegal immigration. Chris Andrade seems like he will be more of a moderate member of Congress if he runs. I think Rouzer is the man for now. But this will be a primary and general election to watch for the rest of 2014.
North Carolina's 8th Congressional District: There is only the Republican incumbent running in the Republican primary and one Democratic candidate running in the Democratic primary.
North Carolina's 9th Congressional District: Incumbent Republican Robet Pittenger is being challenged on the right by TEA Party candidate Mike Steinberg. Pittenger is feeling the heat, at least a little bit, as he has sent out fundraising letters out stating that Western Civilization hangs in the balance. There are not any Democratic candidates who have filed to run. I suspect Pittenger will get re-elected but Steinberg will put up a fight. It should be interesting to watch.
North Carolina's 10th Congressional District: Incumbent Republican Patrick McHenry is running for re-election. He is opposed in the Republican primary by Richard Lynch. Lynch ran to be the nominee in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District but lost in the primary after receiving 1% of the vote. McHenry should get the nomination pretty easily. After getting elected with 57% of the vote in 2012, McHenry should get re-elected easily. There is one candidate filed to be the Democratic nominee, Tate MacQueen.
North Carolina's 11th Congressional District: Republican incumbent Mark Meadows is running unopposed in the Republican primary. For the Democratic primary, there are two candidates running, There is fireman Keith Ruehl and Democratic candidate Tom HIll from 2012 who came in third place in the Democratic primary. I'm not sure who will win this primary. I assume it will be Hill. Whoever wins the Democratic nomination likely doesn't stand much of a shot in this heavily Conservative district.
North Carolina's 12th Congressional District: This is a very heavily Democratic district. There are seven people running for the Democratic nomination and basically the Congressional seat. The two favorites are State Representative Alma Adams and State Senator Malcolm Graham. According to an internal poll for the Adams campaign, she was winning with 26% of the vote, Graham was at 19%, no other candidate was above 10%. The plurality of voters (29%) were undecided. But this will be a fun primary to watch. There is only one Republican candidate who has filed.
North Carolina's 13th Congressional District: Republican incumbent George Holding is running for re-election and will be the Republican nominee. Virginia Conlon and Brenda Cleary are running for the Democratic nomination. At this point, I would think that Conlon is the favorite to secure the nomination. Not that it matters much, in this Republican district.
Kay Hagan is running for re-election in 2014. She has been targeted heavily by the Republican National Committee and is seen as one of the most vulnerable members of the Senate. The Republican primary should be an interesting barometer of how much power the TEA Party still has in nominating politicians. The two main challengers are Thom Tillis and Greg Brannon.
Tillis has been endorsed by a number of state legislators both in the North Carolina House and the North Carolina Senate. Tillis started off as the heavy favorite to win the nomination as he is the Speaker of the House for the Republican led North Carolina House of Representatives. But over the last few months, whatever momentum Tillis had, he lost. He is now running neck and neck with Brannon.
Brannon has received the endorsements of Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Thomas Massie, and FreedomWorks. These are some of the biggest names in nominating Republicans. Brannon will be able to consistently show that he is the "true Conservative" in the race. During the 2012 presidential election, Brannon stated that there was no difference between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. But Brannon faces his own obstacles. He has a couple of skeletons in his closet, regarding a civil jury issue. Additionally, the TEA Party has lost support nationally.
Tillis's main goal for the primary should be to show that he is the best option for defeating Hagan. He should hammer the point and idea that non-traditional candidates are the reason why the Republican Party does not control the Senate. But if the advertisements and constant stories about Hagan being vulnearable work the way they are supposed to, it could end up hurting Tillis. People will then believe that anyone can beat Hagan in a general election. If that is the case, they will look toward someone who is even more in line with their values.
I think Brannon will end up being the nominee. Brannon, a physician and TEA Party activist, sees himself as the North Carolina version of Rand Paul. This will definitely help. But this primary will be one of the most watched ones in the country, for good reason.