ABC News' '14 For 14': The 2014 Midterm Election Races That Matter

PHOTO: Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis, former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
AP Photos

The 2014 elections will provide a valuable snapshot of a changing nation. With a colorful and ambitious cast of candidates, they offer a wild ride of colliding ambitions -- with control of the national agenda on the line.

Throughout the year, ABC News' "14 for 14" project will document 14 races that matter between now and November. It will be a dynamic list of the campaigns -- limited to 14 at any given time -- that individually and collectively provide the big picture of where the country stands, and where we are headed.

All 435 House seats will be filled this year. So will 36 Senate slots, and 36 governors are scheduled to be elected, too. The 500-plus big nationally significant races are fascinating in their smallest details, for the personalities and issues that animate individual elections more than the ultimate scoreboard results.

ABC News Political Director Rick Klein: Why We Chose These Races

Listed below are the slate of races chosen by the ABC News Political Unit to kick off the "14 for 14" project:

PHOTO:  Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell,
John Flavell/AP Photo, Tom Williams/Getty Images
Senate -- Kentucky
Incumbent: Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell faces two huge tests: A tea party-backed primary challenger and, should he survive, an energized Democratic Party putting forward Alison Lundergan Grimes.

PHOTO: From left, Mark Pryor and Tom Cotton in Gillett, Ark., Jan. 11, 2014.
Danny Johnston/AP Photo
Senate -- Arkansas
Incumbent: Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor

Vulnerable incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor takes on a well-funded GOP opponent with a central-casting resume, Rep. Tom Cotton, in a battle that could determine control of the Senate.

PHOTO: Points of Light Foundation CEO Michelle Nunn makes brief remarks during the presentation of the 5,000th "Points of Light" Foundation award with President Barack Obama in the White House in Washington, DC, July 15, 2013.
Pat Benic/UPI/Landov
Senate -- Georgia
Open Seat: Replacing Retiring Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss

A crowded Republican primary could produce a far-right nominee, leaving an opening for Democrat Michelle Nunn, the daughter of a former senator.

PHOTO: Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., waves as she arrives with President Barack Obama aboard Air Force One at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, Nov. 8, 2013.
Jonathan Bachman/AP Photo
Senate -- Louisiana
Incumbent: Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu

Sen. Mary Landrieu, a three-term Democrat, fights to hold on in the South in a must-win Senate contest for Democrats.

PHOTO: Senator Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, speaks during a press conference in Washington, DC, Feb. 6, 2014. | Former U.S. Republican Senator Scott Brown appears at the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, N.H. March 14, 2014.
Getty Image | Reuters Photo
Senate -- New Hampshire
Incumbent: Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen

Sen. Scott Brown, the all-but-declared challenger to incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, has turned a sleeper race into what is likely to be one of the most hotly contested battles in the country.

PHOTO: From left, former Florida Governor Charlie Crist in St. Petersburg, Fla., Nov. 4, 2013 and Governor Rick Scott in Miami, Jan. 14, 2014.
Chris OMeara/AP Photo | Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo
Governor -- Florida
Incumbent: Republican Gov. Rick Scott

Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist's political evolution has him trying to retake the governor's office from a tea party force, Gov. Rick Scott.

PHOTO: Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (left) and State Senator Wendy Davis compete in the 2014 Texas governor race.
(Austin American-Statesman, Ralph Barrera/LM Otero/AP Photo)
Governor -- Texas
Open Seat: Replacing Retiring Republican Gov. Rick Perry

An epic battle in the most populous red state pits new Democratic star Wendy Davis against well-regarded Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott.

PHOTO: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is running for re-election in 2014.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo
Governor -- Wisconsin
Incumbent: Republican Gov. Scott Walker

Gov. Scott Walker looks to burnish his national resume by winning the governorship for the third time inside of four years, but Democrats would love to scratch his name off the 2016 list.

PHOTO: Democrat Ron Barber, former aide to Gabrielle Giffords and currently running for her former post, is seen at a voting center at St. Cyrils Catholic Church in Tucson, Ariz., June 12, 2012.
Samantha Sais/REUTERS
House -- Arizona's 2nd Congressional District
Incumbent: Democratic Rep. Ron Barber

A re-match is taking shape in Gabrielle Giffords' old district -- one of the most competitive anywhere -- between Rep. Rob Barber, a former Giffords aide injured in the shooting incident, and Republican Martha McSally, a retired Air Force fighter pilot.

PHOTO: Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., participates in a news conference on the plight of the residents at Camp Ashraf in Iraq on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2009.
Bill Clark/Getty Images
House -- Colorado's 6th Congressional District
Incumbent: Republican Rep. Mike Coffman

A pure Western tossup, with liberal and conservative pockets of voters squaring off in a battle for who can turn out its side, in a state at the forefront of new social policies.

PHOTO: Rep. Ami Bera, poses for a photo at his campaign office in Elk Grove, Calif., Oct. 26, 2012.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo
House -- California's 7th Congressional District
Incumbent: Democratic Rep. Ami Bera

A freshman Democrat who's a medical doctor seeks to hang on in a hyper-competitive central California district, as Obamacare goes into effect nationwide.

PHOTO: Former Rep. Margolies, who was bounced from office two decades ago after casting a decisive vote for President Bill Clintons budget plan, wants to represent the Philadelphia suburbs again.
Sue Rubel/AP Photo
House -- Pennsylvania's 13th Congressional District
Open Seat: Rep. Allyson Schwartz Running For Governor

Former Rep. Marjorie Margolies, Chelsea Clinton's mother-in-law, looks to return to Congress, if she can emerge from inside an ambitious Democratic primary field.

PHOTO: Republican former Rep. Frank Guinta (left), Republican Dan Innis (center) and Democrat Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (right) are running for for New Hampshires first congressional district, a seat that changed party hands in both 2010 and 2012.
Getty Images| AP Photo
House -- New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District
Incumbent: Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter

A seat that changed party hands in the waves of 2006, 2010, and 2012 is a test for both parties -- and a possible rare third straight matchup between the same candidates.

PHOTO: George P. Bush speaks during the 2011 Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, June 18, 2011.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Land Commissioner -- Texas
Open Seat

The Bush dynasty extends to a new generation, with George P. Bush -- the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush -- seeking his first political office, with his Hispanic heritage a potential asset in changing Texas.

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