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Primary elections in Maryland and West Virginia will determine the fight for a Senate majority this fall – NBC4 Washington

Voters in Maryland and West Virginia will decide Tuesday on important primaries with major consequences for the battle for the Senate majority this fall.

At the same time, President Joe Biden and Republican rival Donald Trump hope to project strength in low-stakes presidential primaries, while further down the ballot, two congressional candidates on either side of the 2021 attack on the Capitol serve as a stark reminder that the nation remains deeply divided about the deadly uprising.

In all, there are statewide primaries in three states on Tuesday — Maryland, Nebraska and West Virginia — as Republicans and Democrats choose their nominees for a series of fall elections. None are more consequential than the Senate primaries in Maryland and West Virginia, where Republicans will be looking for opportunities that could upend control of the upper chamber of Congress for at least two years.

In Maryland, Republican former Governor Larry Hogan expects to dominate the Republican Senate primaries despite his years of criticism of Trump, whom Hogan describes as a threat to democracy. The former two-term governor would be the blue state’s first Republican senator in more than four decades.

It’s unclear whether Trump loyalists will ultimately embrace Hogan. A total of six other Republicans are challenging the 67-year-old former governor.

On the Democratic side, Rep. David Trone is locked in a contentious — and expensive — battle with Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks.

Trone, the co-founder of national liquor store chain Total Wine & More, has poured more than $61 million of his own money into the race. That’s just shy of the national record for self-financing a Senate campaign, much of which goes to months of TV commercials. The three-term congressman says he is better positioned to defeat Hogan in November as a progressive Democrat not tied to special interests.

Race was an issue in the primaries, with Alsobrooks working to become Maryland’s first black U.S. senator. Trone apologized in March for the unintentional use of racial slurs during a budget hearing.

Alsobrooks, who serves as CEO of Maryland’s second-largest jurisdiction with the largest number of registered Democrats, is endorsed by many of the state’s top officials, including Gov. Wes Moore, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Rep. Steny Hoyer and a long list of state legislators.

She has campaigned on expanding economic opportunity, investing in education and protecting abortion rights.

Meanwhile, in West Virginia, the Republican Senate primary will likely decide Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s retiring replacement, given the state’s overwhelming Republican influence.

Republican Governor Jim Justice and US Representative Alex Mooney are the leading Republican candidates. With Manchin gone, the seat is almost guaranteed to turn red in November.

The Trump-backed Justice, a former billionaire with a folksy personality that has made him wildly popular in the state, is the frontrunner against Mooney and five other lesser-known Republicans. Justice, a former Democrat, switched to the Republican Party in 2017. He announced the change at a Trump rally.

Mooney has tried to win over conservatives by calling Justice a “RINO” — which stands for “Republican in Name Only” — who would support Democratic policies. Justice backed Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill, saying West Virginia couldn’t afford to turn down the money offered in the bill. Mooney voted against.

On the other side, Democrats are choosing between Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott, who has Manchin’s support, and Marine Corps veteran Zach Shrewsbury, who has support from the Progressive Democrats of America. Also in the Democratic primary: former Republican Don Blankenship, who was convicted of violating safety standards after a coal mine explosion killed 29 people in 2010.

West Virginia also decides on its candidates for governor.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, the Republican candidate in the 2018 Senate race against Manchin, is running for the Republican nomination. He is running against the sons of two members of West Virginia’s congressional delegation: car dealer Chris Miller, whose mother is Rep. Carol Miller, and former state Rep. Moore Capito, whose mother is Sen. Shelley Moore Capito. West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner is also entering the Republican race.

On the Democratic side, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams is unopposed.

There is much less drama in Tuesday’s presidential primaries.

Biden and Trump have already amassed enough delegates to claim the presidential nominations at their respective national conventions this summer. Still, voters on both sides hope to register a significant protest vote on Tuesday, demonstrating their dissatisfaction with the Biden-Trump rematch.

Maryland progressives, especially dissatisfied with the Biden administration’s support for Israel in its war against Hamas, are encouraging voters to choose “not committed to any presidential candidate” over Biden. There is no free option in West Virginia or Nebraska.

Everett Bellamy, a Democrat who voted early in Annapolis, said he voted “uncommitted” over Biden to protest the killings of women, children and noncombatants in Gaza.

“I have to make a decision in November, but for now, while violence rages in Gaza and people are being killed and starving every day, I wanted to send a message,” Bellamy, 74, said after posting abandoned. Voice Center asked. “Hopefully I will have a better choice in November.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s Republican critics can’t vote for “unattached,” but they can vote for his former Republican rival Nikki Haley, who will appear on the ballot in Maryland, Nebraska and West Virginia despite formally launching her campaign more than two months ago suspended. Last week, Haley won nearly 22% of the Republican primary in Indiana.

Trump has shrugged off his Republican critics, but his weakness against the party’s moderate wing could threaten him in the general election.

Tuesday’s election also includes two candidates deeply involved in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

In West Virginia, a former member of the House of Representatives, Derrick Evans, is running for the Republican nomination in the 1st Congressional District. The 39-year-old Trump loyalist served a three-month prison sentence after live-streaming himself taking part in the storming of the US Capitol. He calls himself the only elected official who “had the courage” to back efforts to temporarily halt the certification of Biden’s 2020 election victory.

Evans is trying to unseat incumbent Republican Rep. Carol Miller.

In Maryland, former Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn is one of nearly two dozen Democrats running in the state’s 3rd Congressional District. The 40-year-old Democrat was in the Capitol on January 6 trying to fend off the violent crowd.

Also on Tuesday, California voters in the state’s 20th District will decide the special runoff election between Republicans Vince Fong and Mike Boudreaux. The winner of the seat previously held by former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will serve until the end of the year. The same two men will face each other again in November for the next full term.

And in North Carolina, voters will finalize their choice in what has become a one-person Republican primary in the state’s 13th Congressional District. Trump endorsed Brad Knott this month, prompting his opponent to suspend her campaign.

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Willingham reported from Charleston, West Virginia. Nations reported from Washington.