Big stakes in West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio bellwether primaries

PHOTO: Richard Cordray speaks during the Ohio Democratic Partys fifth debate in the primary race for governor, April 10, 2018.PlayJohn Minchillo/AP
WATCH GOP, Democrats score wins in high-stakes primaries

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The candidates who emerged victorious from fierce faceoffs Tuesday night in tough and pricey primary battles in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia will provide critical clues into which party might eventually gain control of the U.S. House and Senate in November.

In the closely watched West Virginia GOP Senate primary, establishment Republicans stopped the momentum of former coal baron, Don Blankenship, in a race that has been filled with sharp-tongued barbs, questionable comments about ethnicity, and tweeted rebukes from President Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr., among others.

Over in the Indiana Senate primary, Republicans fought over who is the Trumpiest of Trump supporters in a race that has featured cardboard cutouts of opponents and a lovefest via Twitter of all things Trump.

In Ohio's Democratic gubernatorial primary, candidates leaned left in the hopes of wooing progressives.

1:22 pm - High numbers of women emerge as victors in Democratic primaries

Last night’s outcome foreshadows 2018 is indeed panning out to be the “Year of the Woman.”

Among the 27 women nominees for the U.S. House in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia, eight are black women, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University's "Gender Watch 2018".

Jeannine Lee Lake, the first African American to win a party nomination for Congress in Indiana’s 6th Congressional District, will face Republican Greg Pence, the brother of Vice President Mike Pence, who held the seat for 12 years before being elected governor of the Hoosier State.

Read more from Paola Chavez here.

1:18 pm - In case you missed it: 'Kids Kick Opioids' winner to be announced in West Virginia, amid contested primary

As West Virginia voters headed to the polls to cast their ballots in the highly-contested primary, students in the Mountain State waited to hear who won the second annual “Kids Kick Opioids” contest.

The competition was designed to raise awareness about prescription painkiller abuse and encourage elementary and middle school students to share their stories through poems, drawings and letters.

West Virginia has the nation’s highest drug overdose rate. Nearly 900 people in the state lost their lives to drug overdoses in 2016, many of which were opioid-related. Read Paola Chavez's reporting here.

12:08 am OH-12 GOP primary: State Sen. Troy Balderson wins nomination, will face Danny O'Connor in August special election

State Senator Troy Balderson has narrowly won the GOP nomination in Ohio's 12th Congressional District.

Balderson, backed by Rep. Pat Tiberi (who resigned the seat in January), barely eked out a win over Trump-aligned candidate Melanie Leneghan. With 95% of precincts in Balderson is leading Leneghan 29%-28%.

Balderson now goes on to face Democrat Danny O'Connor in the August 7th special election to fill the seat for the remainder of this session of Congress.

11: 22 pm - More projections from the primaries

Here are a few more projections on races that the ABC News Politics team has been tracking tonight.

OH-16 (GOP Primary): Former NFL player Anthony Gonzalez beats Trump-aligned candidate OH State Rep. Christina Hagan. This is an open seat with Rep. Jim Renacci running for U.S. Senate. The Democratic primary in OH-16 has not been projected by the AP.

NC-09 (Democratic primary): Marine Veteran and solar energy entrepreneur Dan McCready easily advanced to the November election, where he will face Baptist pastor Mark Harris, who unseated sitting GOP Rep. Robert Pittenger in this district that stretches from the Charlotte suburbs to southeastern NC. McCready has a large fundraising advantage over Harris in what is now a premium pickup opportunity for Dems in November.

NC-13 (Democratic primary): Attorney Kathy Manning easily defeated her primary challenger Adam Coker in this central North Carolina district. She will take on GOP Rep. Ted Budd in November in a district President Trump won by just over 9 points in 2016, but Democrats hope to put in play.

IN-02 (Democratic primary): Mel Hall wins the three-way contested primary to take on Rep. Jackie Walorski in this South Bend-area congressional district.

WV-03 (GOP primary): WV State Delegate Carol Miller wins the GOP nomination for this open seat, southern WV district. Miller will take on State Sen. Richard Ojeda in November.

NC-02 (Democratic primary): Wake County Commissioner Linda Coleman wins the Democratic nomination over well-funded entrepreneur Ken Romley. Coleman will take on Rep. George Holding in this suburban Raleigh district Democrats are targeting in November.

10:55 p.m. - Incumbent loses GOP primary in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District

AP called the GOP primary in North Carolina’s 9th District for local pastor Mark Harris. As of Tuesday night, Rep. Robert Pittenger is trailing challenger Harris by just under 1,000 votes.

Pittenger only beat Harris in the 2016 primary race by 134 votes.

10:46 p.m. - DSCC weighs in on Morrisey’s win in the West Virginia Senate GOP primary

“Patrick Morrisey emerges tonight badly bruised from a bizarre primary contest that focused on personal political attacks instead of West Virginians,” Democratic Senate Congressional Committee spokesman David Bergstein said in a statement.

Bergstein emphasized Morrisey’s past as a lobbyist that took in hundreds of thousands of dollars while representing special interests in the healthcare industry and urged voters to hold him accountable.

PHOTO: Candidate Patrick Morrisey, right, who is running for the Republican nomination for Senate in West Virginia, attends a campaign event with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., left, in Huntington, W.Va., May 3, 2018. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Newscom
Candidate Patrick Morrisey, right, who is running for the Republican nomination for Senate in West Virginia, attends a campaign event with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., left, in Huntington, W.Va., May 3, 2018.

10:22 p.m. - AP calls the West Virginia GOP Senate primary for State Attorney General Morrisey

The Associated Press has called the West Virginia GOP Senate primary for State Attorney General Morrisey.

10:10 p.m. - Former coal baron-turned politico Don Blankenship concedes

Don Blankenship, the former coal baron-turned-politico conceded in the closely watched West Virginia GOP Senate primary.

PHOTO: U.S. Senate Republican primary candidate Don Blankenship addresses supporters following a poor showing in the polls May 8, 2018 in Charleston, West Virginia. Jeff Swensen/Getty Images
U.S. Senate Republican primary candidate Don Blankenship addresses supporters following a poor showing in the polls May 8, 2018 in Charleston, West Virginia.

Some in GOP leadership cheered the loss including Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell in an apparent tongue-in-cheek reference to the Netflix show "Narcos," which features drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.

During the contentious primary, Blankenship repeatedly referred to McConnell as "Cocaine Mitch," an insult and allusion to allegations that a shipping company run by the father of McConnell's wife, Elaine Chao, transported drugs.

"My father-in-law is an American, who lives in New York, works in New York. And I don't have any comment about ridiculous observations like that," McConnell told Fox News.

On Twitter, the show "Narcos" later hit back at McConnell's reference.

9:45 p.m. - FiveThirtyEight, an ABC News partner, on North Carolina's 3rd Congressional District race

9:34 p.m. - ABC News partner FiveThirtyEight highlights Ohio's amendment to make the state’s redistricting process less partisan

9:02 p.m. - AP calls Ohio Senate GOP primary for Rep. Jim Renacci

Winning most areas of the state, Rep. Jim Renacci has a lead over his rivals in the Ohio Senate GOP primary, according to the Associated Press. Renacci was endorsed by President Trump in his bid to try and unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown.

9:00 p.m. - Don Blankenship takes the stage to say “it doesn’t look good”

Before the results were in, Don Blankenship got up in front of the crowd at his West Virginia headquarters on election night to say he didn’t think the night was going to go how he planned. It was mostly close friends in the crowd, he said, and he wanted to be honest with them.

“Don’t be dismayed, I did everything I could do,” he said on stage.

But afterward, in an interview with ABC News’ MaryAlice Parks, Rick Klein and Tom Llamas he was adamant that he was “nowhere near” conceding.

“I don't think it's impossible to have a comeback but the numbers are not where I’d hoped they would be at this point in time,” Blankenship said.

“They have to do their own thing and however it turns out that’s what democracy’s all about,” Blankenship said of the West Virginia voters.

8:49 p.m. - AP projects Mike Braun’s win for Senate GOP nomination in Indiana

AP calls the Indiana Senate GOP primary for Mike Braun.

A self-proclaimed “outsider,” millionaire businessman Braun managed to lead the GOP primary with an aggressive campaign funded almost entirely by almost $6 million of his own money.

PHOTO: Mike Braun, center, candidate for the Republican nomination for Senate in Indiana, attends the Kosciusko County Republican Fish Fry in Warsaw, Ind., April 4, 2018. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP
Mike Braun, center, candidate for the Republican nomination for Senate in Indiana, attends the Kosciusko County Republican Fish Fry in Warsaw, Ind., April 4, 2018.

“Congratulations to Mike Braun on his win in tonight’s primary,” National Republican Senate Committee executive director Chris Hansen said in a statement. “Mike’s success in creating jobs for Hoosiers as a business owner is a stark contrast to Joe Donnelly’s history of shipping jobs to Mexico, and his record will ensure his success in the general election.”

According to ABC News' Alisa Wiersema, on the loss, an official from opponent Rep. Luke Messer's campaign said this: “The man who has the most gold typically wins.”

An official from Rep. Rokita’s campaign agreed.

8:48 p.m. - AP projection: Incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin wins Democratic Senate primary in West Virginia

Manchin was facing a primary challenge from Democratic activist Paula Swearengin.

8:38 p.m. - AP projection: Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine wins state's Republican primary

AP called the Republican primary for Ohio governor in favor of DeWine. DeWine and Republican Gov. John Kasich’s Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor have been battling it out in the Republican primary and largely distanced themselves from Kasich and his policies.

PHOTO: Ohio Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine greets supporters at a primary election night event, May 8, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. Bryan Woolston/AP
Ohio Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine greets supporters at a primary election night event, May 8, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio.

Voters can now look forward to a DeWine-Cordray match-up for Kasich’s seat.

8:31 p.m. - AP calls Democratic primary for Ohio governor’s race for Richard Cordray

The former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Democrat Richard Cordray is the projected winner for the Democratic primary for Ohio governor, according to the Associated Press.

What happened in the Democratic primary for the Ohio governor’s race?

Well, Cordray won with a commanding lead against former presidential candidate and Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich is losing big in every region of the state, including the Democratic stronghold (and his home region) of Cleveland, according to ABC News' John Verhovek reports.

The Ohio Democratic Party later congratulated Cordray’s nomination.

“The Cordray-Sutton message that focused on ‘kitchen-table’ issues clearly resounded with voters who want a governor who will fix Columbus, stand up for every Ohioan to get a fair shake and fight for our future,” David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party said in a statement.

More on Cordray here.

8:18 p.m. - From Pence to Pence: A brotherly congratulations

The vice president congratulated his older brother over Twitter just after 8 p.m. on Greg Pence's projected win in Indiana’s 6th Congressional District, which the younger Pence formerly held before serving as governor of Indiana (and then veep). Greg Pence has never run for office.

8:17 p.m. Blankenship weighs in live

ABC News’ MaryAlice Parks and Tom Llamas caught up with Don Blankenship at his campaign headquarters in West Virginia. He told them that if elected, he’ll vote against Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.

"Probably can raise more money when you're against Mitch McConnell than when you're for him," he said. The full interview is below.

7:30 p.m. - The polls are closed in each of tonight’s primary races.

The polls are closed in West Virginia, Indiana and Ohio — the three states that held Senate primaries tonight and will send the Republican winners to face-off against Democratic incumbents — an effort the GOP hopes will give them more of a hold in the Senate. Ohio also held a closely watched gubernatorial primary.

The polls are also closed in North Carolina, where voters cast their ballots in primaries across the state for seats in the House.

Check out our coverage of the Senate primaries in West Virginia, Indiana and Ohio for live updates on each individual race — and here, where we’ll have live coverage all night.

7:22 p.m. - AP projects Greg Pence wins GOP nomination for Indiana congressional seat once held by brother, Vice President Mike Pence

In one of the races ABC News is watching tonight, AP projects that Republican Greg Pence — the older brother of Vice President Mike Pence — in Indiana’s 6th Congressional District, has a strong lead in his bid for his brother’s old seat.

PHOTO: Greg Pence, Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, arrives at a primary-night watch party, May 8, 2018 in Columbus, Indiana. Pence is the older brother of Vice President Mike Pence. Scott Olson/Getty Images
Greg Pence, Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, arrives at a primary-night watch party, May 8, 2018 in Columbus, Indiana. Pence is the older brother of Vice President Mike Pence.

With 17 percent of precincts reporting, Pence had 68 percent and Jonathan Lamb had 21 percent.

7:10 p.m. - The rest of the polls have closed in Indiana

Indiana voters now wait for results. Next, polls will close in North Carolina, West Virginia and Ohio.

6:30 p.m. - Scoop: Blankenship says he'll defeat Manchin with a banner that reads "Beat Joe"

Controversial Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship isn’t taking the president’s anti-endorsement personally. And he’s already focused on West Virginia’s Democratic incumbent, Sen. Joe Manchin — who he said “will be easy to beat."

In an interview with ABC News' Tom Llamas, Blankenship said Manchin “killed himself" by opposing the Trump agenda. And this is his strategy: "Just hang up a banner: Beat Joe," Blankenship said.

6:00 p.m. - First poll closure of the night: Indiana

Most polls in the Indiana primary closed at 6 p.m., EST. Some will close at 7 p.m. EST.

The state known for its “Hoosier hospitality” has seen a bitter and personal race in the lead up to the general when the Republican candidate will aim to unseat incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly. Two members of the House, Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer, have known each other since college.

The third addition to the race is millionaire business owner Mike Braun.

Indiana is a state President Trump won by nearly 20 points. Vice President Mike Pence previously served as governor. All of the Republican candidates say they are the top pick for backing the Trump agenda.

While the field of candidates is not big, a lack of polling makes it difficult to pin down a definite front-runner.

5:42 p.m. - Candidates make final push for voters to cast their ballots

In West Virginia, sitting Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat who will have to fight for his seat in the midterms, tweeted two hours before the polls closed.

And in Indiana, Rep. Todd Rokita, a Republican candidate running for the Indiana Senate seat:

And in Ohio, Dennis Kucinich — the “boy mayor” who served Cleveland as the youngest mayor in city history at 31, a former Democratic congressman and a former presidential candidate:

5:28 p.m. - Does Mitch McConnell have a reaction to Blankenship’s “Chinapeople” ad?

Short answer: Wait and see.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he’s going to wait until after the election results are in before he comments on an ad released by Republican candidate Don Blankenship that accused McConnell of creating jobs “for Chinapeople,” a description many saw as racially-offensive.

PHOTO: Don Blankenship, who is running for the Republican nomination for Senate in West Virginia, attends a town hall meeting at Macados restaurant in Bluefield, W.Va., May 3, 2018. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images
Don Blankenship, who is running for the Republican nomination for Senate in West Virginia, attends a town hall meeting at Macado's restaurant in Bluefield, W.Va., May 3, 2018.

Last week, Blankenship, a Republican candidate in the West Virginia Senate race and a former CEO of a coal company with a misdemeanor conviction, released an ad featuring an insult aimed directly at McConnell and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

"We're gonna find out what happens in West Virginia tonight and I may have more to say on that tomorrow," McConnell said. He also wouldn’t say whether the Republican Party would support Blankenship should he win the primary.

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer — the top Democrat in the Senate — echoed McConnell, saying he wouldn’t speculate until the winner is announced. Mariam Khan

4:00 p.m. - The disruptive coal man from West Virginia

Several of today's primary races have already gained national attention, but none more so than the three-way Republican battle for the Senate in West Virginia.

At the center of the drama is Don Blankenship, a former Massey Energy CEO who was convicted of a misdemeanor for conspiring to violate mine safety regulations after its Upper Big Branch Mine exploded, killing 29.

Blankenship is running against Republican Congressman Evan Jenkins and current state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and has cast himself as a political outsider willing to take on Washington establishment. On Monday Blankenship even took jabs at President Trump, who implored West Virginians not to vote for him.

Read more here.

3:58 p.m. - What can Tuesday night’s primaries tell us about the midterms?

What insights might tonight's primaries offer on the broader midterms?


Loyalty to the president is a central issue in the Republican primaries, and GOP candidates across all four states are aiming to prove to voters that they are the true Trump ally.

“In these Republican primaries under the current Senate map, loyalty to Trump is the number one cause. It’s the number one issue,” said Leah Askarinam, a reporter, and analyst at Inside Elections, a nonpartisan outlet that analyzes House, Senate, gubernatorial and presidential campaigns, “These candidates have spent the last several months tying themselves as closely as possible to the president. It’s unclear if that will work in a general election. Most of these states did support Trump by more than just a few points.”

The GOP is holding on to a razor-thin 51-49 majority in the U.S. Senate and Democrats are defending ten states that voted for Trump in 2016, and both parties are keenly aware that avoiding unforced missteps and nominating quality candidates is the difference between a Senate majority or minority.

Read more in John Verhovek's story here.

3:56 p.m. - Voters in Indiana talk Trump

While the Indiana Senate race serves as a chance for Republicans to bolster their majority in the Senate by unseating a vulnerable Democrat in a red state, some Republican voters in Indiana are saying a front-runner is hard to pinpoint, even though polls close in just a few hours. Multiple voters said they varied between backing Rep. Todd Rokita, Rep. Luke Messer, and businessman Mike Braun.

What these voters are sure about is backing President Trump’s agenda. In many cases, voters have said they like the President’s policies, even though they may not like his personal style.

One voter from Carmel, Indiana, said the president has accomplished a lot while in office but added that he can be “petty.”

And another Carmel noted that she liked that Rokita put a “Make America Great Again” hat on in one of his commercials and talked about a border wall.

For reference — in 2016, Trump carried the state by nearly 20 points. Alisa Wiersema

3:54 p.m. - W. Va. candidate 'tired of watching' opioid crisis

Ayne Amjad works at the nexus of the opioid crisis and environmental hazards which residents say have caused their friends and neighbors to develop cancer.

The problem is felt especially acutely in the rural parts of West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District where Amjad — a somewhat accidental politician — saw patients every day struggling with the effects of the epidemic, high rates of cancer (sometimes explained away by some experts as lifestyle causes) and the high cost of healthcare.

"I just got tired of watching things go in a direction I didn’t like and I realized the only way you can change things is to get into politics," she told ABC News, adding later. “I don’t think we handle it properly, the people making the decisions for drugs are not even healthcare professionals which drives me insane,” she said.

Amjad is one of seven Republicans running for the U.S. House seat held by Rep. Evan Jenkins in the primary election on Tuesday. Jenkins is running in the Republican Senate primary to challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin.

Read more in Stephanie Ebbs' story here.

3:54 p.m. - Don Blankenship at center of party-backed super PAC primary fight in West Virginia

Former coal mogul Don Blankenship is at the center of a party-backed, super PAC, Senate primary fight in West Virginia as groups with obscure names and undisclosed donors spend millions of dollars.

The proxy fight — an effort to sway the Republican primary by influencing whether Blankenship makes it onto the ballot in November — has made the Senate bid one of the most expensive races so far this year.

Democrats have rolled out six-figure ads attacking two GOP primary candidates Evan Jenkins and Patrick Morrisey through the Duty and Country super PAC.

Soorin Kim lays out the numbers here.

6:00 a.m. - What’s at stake in the first big primary day Of 2018

ABC News partner FiveThirtyEight offers a take on aspects of the races to watch. Check them out here.

WATCH LIVE TONIGHT: You can watch livestreaming coverage of all the primary action starting at 7 p.m. ET on or on the ABC News app available on the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, Apple TV App Store, and Roku Channel Store.

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