Georgia, Oregon, Idaho and Kentucky primaries 2024: Willis, McAfee win; tough night for progressives

Abortion didn’t help liberals flip a Georgia Supreme Court seat.

On May 21, voters in Georgia, Idaho, Oregon, Kentucky and California held key elections for Congress and nationally watched local races. Two key figures from one of Trump’s legal cases, Fani Willis and Scott McAfee, easily won their races, while conservatives won a Georgia Supreme Court election fought largely over abortion. In the House, progressives lost two key races in Oregon, while California voters picked a successor to Kevin McCarthy.

As usual, 538 reporters and contributors broke down the election results as they came in with live updates, analysis and commentary. Read our full live blog below.

That’s a wrap!

With all of tonight's key races now projected, it's time for us to hit the hay. Here's a recap of who won today:

- Despite trying to ride the wave of voter activation over abortion, former Democratic Rep. John Barrow failed to unseat Republican-appointed Justice Andrew Pinson in the only contested race for Georgia Supreme Court today.

- Challenges to a pair of major figures in Trump's Georgia election-interference case also went nowhere. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis easily won her Democratic primary, and Judge Scott McAfee won his judicial election against a self-described "conservative Democrat."

- The Republican primary in Georgia's 3rd District is going to a June 18 runoff between longtime Trump staffer Brian Jack and former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan.

- In Georgia's 13th District, incumbent Rep. David Scott prevailed over his six challengers to win his Democratic primary and will go on to seek reelection in November. Scott's challengers tried to focus on his age and health as an issue, echoing criticisms facing the Democrats and President Joe Biden in November, but incumbency proved too powerful an advantage.

- Out west, the DCCC got their candidate in Oregon's 5th District, as state Rep. Janelle Bynum easily dispatched attorney Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who lost in 2022 in this seat against Republican Rep Lori Chavez-DeRemer. Bynum will face off against Chavez-DeRemer this November.

- In Oregon's 3rd District, state Rep. Maxine Dexter benefited from a plethora of outside spending to defeat former Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal in the Democratic primary, all-but-ensuring that Dexter will be this dark-blue seat's next representative.

- Republican Mike Erickson will get a third shot at winning a House seat as he cruised to victory in the GOP primary for Oregon's 6th District. At times, Erickson seems more focused on winning a defamation case against Rep. Andrea Salinas regarding an ad she aired last cycle against him than he does on beating her in an election.

- In Idaho's 2nd District, incumbent Republican Mike Simpson is poised to win his primary and likely reelection this fall. With more than 60 percent of the votes counted, he leads his closest challenger, investment adviser Scott Cleveland, 57 percent to 34 percent. (Scott Cleveland is a great quarterback name, now that this politics thing doesn't seem to be working out.)

- In the special election in California's 20th District (former Speaker Kevin McCarthy's old seat), Assemblyman Vince Fong defeated fellow Republican Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux. As a result, Speaker Mike Johnson will soon get an extra vote in the House.

—Monica Potts, Nathaniel Rakich, Kaleigh Rogers and Geoffrey Skelley, 538; Jacob Rubashkin, Inside Elections

Simpson prevails in Idaho

The AP is now projecting that Simpson has won the Republican nomination in Idaho's 2nd District. The story of Simpson's career is that he has been moderate enough to arouse significant discontent in primaries, but not enough discontent to make him lose. This time around, he's pulling 57 percent of the vote.

—Nathaniel Rakich, 538

Anchorage, Alaska, has ousted its conservative mayor

This election actually happened last week, but the outcome just became official today: Suzanne LaFrance has defeated incumbent Dave Bronson in the election for mayor of Anchorage, Alaska. Bronson belonged to a right-wing faction of city politics, while LaFrance aligned herself with Democrats. LaFrance is also the first woman elected mayor of Anchorage.

—Nathaniel Rakich, 538

Greater Idaho grows?

Elsewhere in Oregon, Crook County is poised to become the 13th county to vote to secede from the state and join Idaho. These ballot initiatives are non-binding advisory votes, but a large swath of the sparsely-populated eastern part of the state has voted in favor of secession since 2020.

—Irena Li, 538

A close race for the Democratic nomination in Oregon’s 5th District

Right on cue, Jacob: Oregon’s most competitive House race this fall will likely be in the 5th District, where Republican Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer is defending a seat that Biden would’ve carried by 9 percentage points. That potential prize has precipitated a highly competitive Democratic primary between state Rep. Janelle Bynum and attorney Jamie McLeod-Skinner. Bynum has led the way in fundraising, bringing in $1.1 million to McLeod-Skinner’s $726,000. But McLeod-Skinner may be better known, having defeated incumbent Rep. Kurt Schrader in the 2022 Democratic primary before losing to Chavez-DeRemer by 2 points in the general election later that year.

Perhaps with this loss in mind, many Democratic officials — including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — are backing Bynum over McLeod-Skinner as the better bet to defeat Chavez-DeRemer this fall. The DCCC has even taken the unusual step of running “hybrid ads” with Bynum that both promote her candidacy and Democrats more broadly, allowing both to save money by splitting advertising costs. Outside groups have also come in big for Bynum by spending around $1.2 million either backing her or opposing McLeod-Skinner, according to OpenSecrets — including $759,000 in ad spending from Mainstream Democrats PAC criticizing McLeod-Skinner over reports that she behaved poorly toward her campaign staff in 2022. Additionally, EMILYs List has endorsed Bynum, a change from 2022 when it endorsed McLeod-Skinner (albeit after that year’s primary).

McLeod-Skinner has countered by running ads highlighting Bynum’s 2019 vote to oppose expanding the statute of limitations for rape survivors to file civil suits in sexual assault cases. Bynum defended the vote at the time, saying “it’s not popular to protect the accused, but it is our job.” Additionally, an outside group called Health Equity Now has spent about $350,000 on ads promoting McLeod-Skinner as a progressive. However, the group appears to have Republican ties, so it may be a case of GOP meddling to boost a potentially weaker general election candidate. Regardless, the race certainly looks close: The only polling that we’ve seen of the primary this year is a late April survey by Brilliant Corners Research & Strategies on behalf of Bynum’s campaign that found her a hair ahead of McLeod-Skinner, 37 percent to 34 percent.

—Geoffrey Skelley, 538