A cowboy, a curmudgeon, a biker and a normal guy walked into a debate. Bill Clinton and Karl Rove are talking about casting a zombie movie, and that’s not a reference to any members of the Obama cabinet. And voters are set to vote: Primaries are scheduled for Tuesday in six states, in what may mark the most significant Election Day until November’s main event.
Here’s a glimpse at some of the stories your ABC News political team is covering in the week ahead:
The tea party’s No. 1 target coming into the 2014 primary season was a big one: the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell. But entering into Tuesday’s voting in Kentucky, McConnell is on autopilot, poised to blow past tea party favorite Matt Bevin. Barring an upset, it will be a testament to McConnell’s adaptation to a changed political climate, and a statement on the limits of tea party energy to take down incumbents. Regardless, it’s only Round 1: A McConnell win would set up the marquee matchup for the fall, with Alison Lundergan Grimes poised to become the Democratic nominee. The race could determine control of the Senate, along with the fate of the top Republican senator.
Out of the blur of Washington scandals, a huge one is coming into view. The outrage factor is high when we’re talking about U.S. veterans’ facing interminable waits for medical care, and administrators alleged to have fudged the books to cover up for their shortcomings. The scandal will only grow. Still to come is an internal Veterans Affairs inspector general’s investigation, a possible Department of Justice criminal probe and another round of Capitol Hill testimony for Secretary Eric Shinseki. With anecdotes flowing in from across the country, the scandal is threatening to seriously undermine the Obama administration during a tenuous political period.
Just as the Clinton camp gears up for the political season, a first test of the former first family’s influence comes in the form of the Democratic primary for an open House seat in Pennsylvania. The Clintons’ choice is close to the family. Chelsea’s mother-in-law, Marjorie Margolies, who is fighting to get the job back that she famously lost in 1994, after casting a key vote for President Bill Clinton’s budget. The former president is featured in a last-minute campaign ad, and Hillary Clinton raised late cash for Margolies this past week. But a surge by another Democrat, 37-year-old state representative Brendan Boyle, may spoil Margolies’ comeback hopes, and keep the Clinton-in-law from returning to Congress. The seat is being vacated by Rep. Allyson Schwartz, who is herself in danger of losing the Democratic nomination for governor Tuesday.
An open Senate seat sparked a scramble in Georgia, with three sitting House members among five candidates vying for the Republican nomination. Two are likely to advance to a runoff, but who those two are will be a judgment on the tea party’s potency. It could also affect Democratic pickup hopes in a state that could turn purple in the coming years. Polls show two tea party favorites – Reps. Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey – at the bottom of the GOP pack, and tea party energy has shifted to former Secretary of State Karen Handel. A head-to-head tea party matchup against an establishment-aligned candidate -- David Perdue or Rep. Jack Kingston -- could tilt the eventual nominee rightward. That in turn could make the race more winnable for likely Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn.
|IN A NAME|
Tuesday’s ballot is filled with famous names. Georgia Democrats are set to nominate a former president’s grandson, Jason Carter, for governor, and a former senator’s daughter, Michelle Nunn, for Senate. The fathers of Democratic Senate candidates Alison Lundergan Grimes and Mark Pryor (the incumbent in Arkansas) are prominent figures from their states’ Democratic establishments. Both have close ties to the Clintons, as does Margolies in Pennsylvania. With the exception of Margolies, all on this list are heavy favorites to win their primaries. But the power of their family names will be tested this fall in the Republican-leaning states they hope to represent.