What to Watch in the 2019 Primaries

This page contains Daniel Nichanian’s cheat sheets for what to watch in key primaries throughout the 2019 cycle.

June 11, 2019: Virginia

Arlington (D)
Incumbent T. Stamos faces P. Dehghani-Tafti, who said she’s running to “dismantle the mass incarceration machine.” Contrasts on death penalty, pot, and more. Preview.Parisa Dehghani-Tafti
Fairfax Co. (Dem)
Incumbent Ray Morrogh faces Steve Descano. Contrasts on death penalty, pot, structure of diversion programs & felony charges. Preview.Steve Descano
Prince William (D)
Incumbent Paul Ebert is retiring after 51 years. 2 candidates who’ve talked about reforming the local system in slightly different ways are running to replace him. Preview.Amy Ashworth
SD24 (GOP)
Tina Freitas is challenging GOP Senator Emmett Hanger Jr. in part because he backed Medicaid expansion (Augusta area) Preview.Emmett Hanger
HD28 (GOP)
Paul Milde is challenging GOP Delegate Robert M. Thomas Jr. in part because he backed the Medicaid expansion.Paul Milde
SD35 (Dem)
Yasmine Taeb is challenging Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw from the left in a Northern Virginia district.Richard Saslaw
HD50 (Dem)
Delegate Lee Carter is facing a challenger from the right by Mark Wolfe. Preview.Lee Carter
SD31 (Dem)
Dem Sen. Barbara Favola is facing a challenge from the left by Nicole Merlene. See.Barbara Favola
HD38 (Dem)
Dem Del. Kaye Kory is facing a challenge from the left by Andres Jimenez. See.Kaye Kory
HD48 (Dem)
Delegate Alfono Lopez is facing a challenge from the left by J.D. Spain. See.Alfono Lopez

May 21, 2019: Kentucky, Pennsylvania


KY: Gov (D)Four Democrats are vying for the nomination to face Gov. Bevin. Some contrasts, incl. on abortion.Beshear
KY: Gov (R)Gov. Bevin faces three primary challengersBevin
KY: SoSBoth parties are choosing their candidates to replace SoS Grimes, for the office that runs elections but whose powers just shrunk.Henry (D) Adams (R)

Congressional & legislative special elections

PA, CD12PA12 is electing the replacement of Rep. Marino, in a Republican district.GOP hold
Legislative specialsRepublicans are defending three seats (SD33, SD41, HD11), each in red territory.GOP holds

Criminal legal system

PA: Allegheny Co. DA (D)DA Stephen Zappala is facing his first opponent in 20-years, with stark contrasts on criminal justice reform and the DA’s responsibility toward mass incarceration.Stephen Zappala
PA: Philly sheriff (D)Foreclosures and ICE in courthouses on the menu in sheriff’s election; Sheriff Williams seeking re-election.Rochelle Bilal
PA: Northampton Co. DA (D)Punitive DA’s retirement leaves an open Dem primary; bold ideas are not being tossed around.Terry Houck
See also: Philly organizers are prioritizing local judicial races as a way to get reform on issues like bail.

Local elections

Philadelphia: MayorMayor Jim Kenney faces two opponents.
City commissioners run Philly elections, and the Philly Inquirer did a thorough job laying out where they stand on the issues.
Jim Kenney
Philadelphia: City commissionerOne stake: Run Philly elections, and the Philly Inquirer lays out where they stand on the issues.Lisa Deely & Omar Sabir
See also: Philadelphia’s city council elections have attracted a lot of organizing attention, for instance around the issue of housing.

April 2, 2019: Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin


Wisconsin Supreme CourtTo replace a retiring liberal justice. Court has been at center of many recent political battles, and redistricting is on horizon.Hagedown (conservative)


PA: #SD37 specialGOP-held Senate seat in Pittsburgh-region district (#SD37). Outcome could either hinder or set up a chamber majority flip (toward Dems) next year.Dem GAIN


Kansas CityKansas City votes on whether to increase sales tax to fund universal pre-K. Some concerns include use of funds for vouchers & private schools.No
IL: Chicago mayorRunoff after February’s first round.Lightfoot
IL: Chicago aldermanic electionsFour candidates endorsed by DSA in runoffs (Jeannette Taylor, Byron Sigcho-Lopez, Andre Vasquez, Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez); 2 won in Feb.4 DSA wins
MO: Ferguson councilLesley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, is running for city council in Ferguson; faces K. Kallstrom and Fran Griffin.
MO: Kansas City mayorThe first round of the mayoral election; field will be narrowed to two.Jolie Justus vs Quinton Lucas [Lucas eventually]
NV: Las Vegas mayorMayor Carolyn Goodman’s reelection bid. First round, but more than 50% wins it.Goodman
NV: Las Vegas councilRuben Kihuen’s new bid for elected officeKihuen out