Tuesday, all political eyes will be fixed on Utah and New York and their respective primaries. Both states will select Republican nominees to the U.S. Senate and, in Utah, there will be particular attention paid to the challenge of former State Sen. Dan Liljenquist to six-term Sen. Orrin Hatch. In New York, the major political story will be whether former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman and 42-year Rep. Charles Rangel survives a Democratic primary challenge in the redistricted 13th District (Harlem) from State Sen. Adriano Espailliat.
Liljenquist — at 38, born two years before Hatch first entered the Senate — has been strapped for cash and support after just barely winning the percentage of delegates at the state convention that permitted him to pursue a primary. His depiction of the 78-year-old Hatch as out-of-touch with Beehive State conservatives is apparently falling on deaf ears. Outside groups such as the Club for Growth, which helped finish off the stateâ??s other GOP Sen. Robert Bennett in 2010, are satisfied that Hatchâ??s strong support of the Balanced Budget Amendment and criticism of much of the Obama agenda is sufficient to leave him alone. Alone among outside groups in the Liljenquist camp is FreedomWorks.
Presidential politics play a supporting role in this race. Mitt Romney has strongly backed old friend Hatch, while Rick Santorum endorsed Liljenquist.
In New York, Rangel, who survived a crowded primary in 2010 after widespread reports of ethical lapses, is in the obverse situation of where he was as a young legislator in 1970 when he won his first term over the legendary Rep. Adam Clayton Powell. The Harlem district has been redistricted into one that is more Hispanic than black. The veteran incumbent was just endorsed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and has already been backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the powerful municipal union District Council 37.
Other races to keep an eye on Tuesday:
New York US Senate Primary
Attorney Wendy Long, onetime law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, had an impressive start with her speeches to GOP meetings and to the state party convention, which blessed her candidacy. She has not, however, been able to build on that in terms of money and organization in the primary. Rep. Bob Turner, who won the seat of Democrat Anthony Weiner last year in a nationally-watched upset, appears to have some momentum, and George Maragos, Nassau Controller and a self-made immigrant millionaire, has just launched a series of robo-calls. Long recently criticized Rush Limbaugh for his â??slutâ?ť comment, leading the radio show host to say on air: â??We love Bob Turner.â?ť The winner will face Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
The Nassau County GOP could be in for a shake-up, as insurgent conservative and attorney Frank Scaturro is gaining ground as the reform candidate against County Legislator Francis X. Becker, who lost to Democratic Rep. Carolyn McCarthy in 2010. Becker also has the Conservative Party line, but faces an “Opportunity to Ballot” (write-in) challenge on that from Scaturro.
A crowded Democratic field to replace Rep. Gary Ackerman features City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley — cousin of Rep. Joe Crowley, the Queens County Democratic chair — Assemblyman Rory Lancman, Assemblywoman Grace Meng — endorsed by Ackerman — and Dr. Robert Mittman. Lancman has the Working Families endorsement. City Councilman Daniel Halloran is running Republican-Conservative.
This is a fascinating race in that City Councilman Charles Barron, best known for his virulent anti-Semetic rhetoric, could actually win the Beford-Stuyvestant district long held by retiring Democratic Rep. Edolphus Towns. Clearly terrified of the idea of Barron in Congress, Democratic leaders from Gov. Cuomo on down have endorsed his leading rival, state legislator Hakeem Jeffries. Barron last week was endorsed by — are you ready? — former American Nazi Party leader David Duke.