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Midterm elections: Virginia, DC primaries and Alabama, Georgia runoffs to watch on Tuesday

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WASHINGTON – The District of Columbia and Virginia will hold primary elections Tuesday, featuring an incumbent mayor seeking a third term and competitive Republican primaries in districts that could determine if the GOP regains control of Congress.

In Alabama and Georgia, voters will return to the polls a month after their May primaries in a number of runoff elections. Republicans will determine which candidate will likely succeed longtime retiring Sen. Richard Shelby in the Alabama Senate runoff, a race that has seen Trump endorse one candidate only to withdraw the endorsement and back his opponent. Trump's influence will also be tested in two House runoffs in Georgia, where his chosen candidates trailed in the initial primary results.

Here are some of the races to watch:

Virginia GOP primaries will set the stage for competitive midterms

Republicans are taking aim at Virginia Democratic incumbent Reps. Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger in their efforts to reclaim the House of Representatives. The GOP primaries in their districts, Virginia's 2nd and 7th, will set the stage for competitive races in November.

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Luria's district became more competitive thanks to redistricting, and Republicans see it as a prime pickup opportunity. Luria, a Navy veteran, has served in Congress since 2019. She is now in the spotlight as one of the members of the Jan. 6 committee and will lead the final hearing for the investigation into the U.S. Capitol attack.

Rep. Elaine Luria listens during the first January 6 Committee public hearing in the Cannon House Office Building.
Rep. Elaine Luria listens during the first January 6 Committee public hearing in the Cannon House Office Building.

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State Sen. Jen Kiggans is the front-runner in the GOP primary. She has the endorsement of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and was named a Young Gun candidate by the National Republican Congressional Committee. She's also been backed by House Republican Caucus Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik's PAC and the leadership aligned Congressional Leadership Fund.

Like Luria, Kiggans served in the Navy. She now serves in the Virginia state Senate and is a geriatric nurse practitioner.

Three other Republicans are vying for the chance to take on Luria, including Jarome Bell, a far-right candidate who has promoted false allegations of election fraud following the 2020 presidential election.

Bell has gone so far as to call for the execution of anyone involved in the effort, tweeting, “Audit all 50 states. Arrest all involved. Try all involved. Convict all involved. Execute all involved," according to the Virginian Pilot. Bell has the endorsement of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and controversial Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, both allies of former President Donald Trump.

In the 7th Congressional District, a wide field of Republicans is competing to challenge Spanberger, who was elected the same year as Luria. Spanberger, a former CIA officer, is a centrist member of the Blue Dogs Coalition.

The GOP candidates include state Sen. Bryce Reeves, who represents part of the district in the statehouse. Reeves – a former Army Ranger – has raised the most money in the race and is endorsed by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, former state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and Ginni Thomas are all backing Yesli Vega in the race, who previously was the "Latinos for Youngkin" chair during the campaign of now-Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., has also waded into the divided primary, backing former Green Beret Derrick Anderson. Stafford County Board Chair Crystal Vanuch is also running.

Republican Katie Britt campaigns in Cullman, Ala., on May 23 before the U.S. Senate primary. Britt seeks the GOP nomination for the seat that will be vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby.
Republican Katie Britt campaigns in Cullman, Ala., on May 23 before the U.S. Senate primary. Britt seeks the GOP nomination for the seat that will be vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby.

Alabama Republicans will select Senate nominee after Trump flip-flop

In Alabama, Sen. Richard Shelby is retiring after 35 years in the chamber and his current stint as the ranking member on the Committee on Appropriations.

Former Business Council of Alabama President Katie Britt and Rep. Mo Brooks emerged from the Republican primary May 24, but neither with enough votes to win outright. Given the partisan lean of the state, whoever wins the runoff is likely to easily win election in November and join the Senate Republican conference.

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Britt previously worked as Shelby's chief of staff. Shelby endorsed her in the race and has backed her financially, as have a number of other Republican senators, including Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Joni Ernst of Iowa. The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, also spent in the primary in support of Britt.

Britt recently won the endorsement of Trump, who initially endorsed Brooks before withdrawing his endorsement.

“There's no Republican running I don't think wouldn't want his endorsement,” Shelby said of the Trump endorsement.

He predicted success for Britt with or without the former president's help. “She’s doing well anyway. I believe she’s going to win, win big," he added.

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., addresses a rally on Jan. 6, 2021, when supporters of President Donald Trump gathered to protest the results of the presidential election.
Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., addresses a rally on Jan. 6, 2021, when supporters of President Donald Trump gathered to protest the results of the presidential election.

Brooks, who spoke ahead of Trump at a rally Jan. 6 in Washington before Trump supporters angry over the election loss attacked the Capitol, has billed himself as "MAGA Mo." Trump backtracked on his endorsement in March, citing Brooks encouraging a crowd to put the 2020 election behind them as one of the reasons he no longer supported the congressman. But Brooks has continued to run as the Trump candidate in the race.

He made firing McConnell a central theme of his campaign and accused the GOP leader of manipulating Trump against him. Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., both backed Brooks.

Whoever wins the runoff will face Democrat Will Boyd in November.

3 Georgia House runoffs to watch, including 2 Trump-backed candidates

Former President Donald Trump speaks to the crowd gathered at the Landers Center in Southaven, Miss., on Saturday, June 18, 2022. (Joe Rondone/The Commercial Appeal via AP) ORG XMIT: TNMEM606
Former President Donald Trump speaks to the crowd gathered at the Landers Center in Southaven, Miss., on Saturday, June 18, 2022. (Joe Rondone/The Commercial Appeal via AP) ORG XMIT: TNMEM606

Trump endorsed two candidates in Georgia who will compete in runoff elections on Tuesday. In the 6th Congressional District, Trump backed attorney Jake Evans, the son of his former ambassador to Luxembourg. Evans faces an uphill battle in the runoff after physician Rich McCormick led the primary in May. The seat was redistricted to be much more Republican, so whoever wins the runoff is on track to win in November.

In the 10th District, Trump backed former state Rep. Vernon Jones, who trailed trucking company owner Mike Collins in the primary. Jones is a former Democrat, who announced he was switching parties on Jan. 6. He spoke in support of Trump at the 2020 Republican National Convention. According to Fox News, Trump offered to endorse Jones if he dropped out of the gubernatorial primary.

Collins is backed by GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, who defeated a Trump-supported challenger in his own primary last month. Collins is also a Trump supporter and the son of a former congressman who represented parts of the district.

Republicans are also determining who will challenge Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop in the 2nd Congressional District. Jeremy Hunt, a Black West Point graduate, received the most votes in the primary and faces state Rep. Chris West in the runoff. Hunt has a wide array of endorsements, including from former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Cotton and Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.

Bowser faces two challengers in D.C. mayor race

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, is running for reelection. If she wins, she would be only the second mayor of D.C. to be elected for a third term.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser is sworn in to testify at a House Oversight and Reform Committee on March 22, 2021.
Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser is sworn in to testify at a House Oversight and Reform Committee on March 22, 2021.

City council members Robert White and Trayon White are both primarying Bowser after serving the last six years on the council. Whoever wins the primary on Tuesday is on track to win in November given the Democratic tilt of the district.

Robert White holds a citywide position, while Trayon White represents the poorest part of D.C., Ward 8. Both are to the left of Bowser on policing, and crime and public safety have been dominant themes in the election.

Contributing: Mabinty Quarshie

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Virginia primary, Alabama Senate and Georgia runoffs to watch Tuesday