National

The pre-Super Tuesday calendar was unusually busy this year, and while both former President Donald Trump (R-FL) and President Joe Biden (D-DE) cleaned up as expected in their respective primaries, the GOP held contests in small states before the big day, one in which former South Carolina Governor and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley (R) captured her first primary victory.


First, on March 2, three states held Republican caucuses that all delivered strong wins for Trump: Idaho, Michigan, and Missouri. The Michigan Caucus followed last week’s primary, in which only a handful of the state’s fifty-five delegates were awarded due to intraparty fighting within the Michigan GOP. Trump won the primary by a forty-two point landslide. Trump secured fifty-one of the state’s delegates.
In Missouri, Trump swept all one hundred fourteen counties and is set to win all fifty-one of the state’s delegates, which will be awarded either in the spring at state conventions.


In Idaho, Trump dispatched Haley with 85% of the vote and won all forty-four counties and all thirty-two delegates.


Haley’s first and only win so far came in the form of the District of Columbia Primary on Sunday. She defeated Trump 62.8%-33.3% and won all nineteen of the District’s delegates. Her win in D.C. is not expected to add serious momentum to her campaign, as such support for her is unlikely to materialize elsewhere and only about 5% of the District of Columbia electorate is registered with the GOP. Just over 2,000 voters participated in Sunday’s primary, making it more of an exhibition match among voters who have not been keen on Trump in past elections.

In the 2016 primary, Trump came in a distant third to Marco Rubio (R-FL) and John Kasich (R-OH). In 2020, Trump lost D.C. by eighty-seven points, a typical margin for Democrats in the District, which has never backed a Republican for president.


In North Dakota, Trump easily defeated Haley with 84.6% of the vote, sweeping all twenty-nine delegates.


Apart from presidential politics, the November general elections are starting to materialize as primary wins for state and congressional candidates make crucial races slightly clearer.


In North Carolina, the gubernatorial race is now set between Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson (R) and Attorney General Josh Stein (D). Both candidates won their primaries with more than 65% of the vote, setting up a toss-up general election in one of the nation’s most critical states.


Term-limited Governor Roy Cooper (D) unseat Pat McRory (R) in 2016 and won a marginal re-election bid in 2020.


If Robinson should win the 2024 gubernatorial race, it would mark the first time in history that all former-Confederate states are simultaneously governed by Republicans.


Additionally, Robinson, a favorite of the populist-right would be the first black person elected Governor of North Carolina.


North Carolina is an inelastic swing state, in that there is hardly any “middle” to court. Heated elections here focus on party turnout, and in the presidential contest, in which Trump is likely to carry North Carolina, turnout will be critical.


Senate races also found some clarity on Tuesday, with Congressman Adam Schiff (D, CA-30) and former MLB star Steve Garvey (R) advancing from the all-party primary in California. California is one of a handful of states where all candidates appear on the same ballot line, regardless of party, and compete for the top two slots. California has seen recent Senate races that featured two Democrats on the November ballot.


While Schiff is the solid favorite to win the race in the deep-blue state, his win marked the end of a tough primary with rising star Katie Porter (D, CA-47), an Orange County congresswoman.


In Texas, Congressman Colin Allred (D, TX-32) easily won the Democratic Primary to take on Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). Allred is seen as a rising star in the party and will have no shortage of money behind him. He famously ousted Pete Sessions (R) in 2018, was re-elected narrowly in 2020, before winning re-election handily in 2022 after the Texas map redraw made his Dallas-area district much more Democratic.


While Allred’s nomination isn’t surprising, it does make the race more complicated for Cruz. However, Texas is still Republican-leaning, and in a presidential year, Allred will have difficulty knocking off an incumbent in a year where Senate math overwhelmingly benefits the GOP. Texas currently represents Democrats’ best pickup opportunity in the upper chamber.


Crucial House races in California also saw Republican incumbents advance from the primary with decent numbers. In California’s Thirteenth District, the only two candidates were incumbent John Duarte (R) and 2022 challenger Adam Gray (D). The primary was essentially an exhibition match between the two and a possible bellwether for the 2024 general in the highly-competitive Central Valley district. Duarte beat Gray by nine points in Tuesday’s primary, while he won the 2022 election by just 0.4% over Gray.


In California’s Forty-Seventh District, 2022 nominee Scott Baugh (R) was renominated on Tuesday to compete in the open seat vacated by Porter. Porter narrowly defeated Baugh in 2022, giving Republicans a good chance to flip this classically-Republican Huntington Beach-based seat.


Republicans also caught a break in North Carolina’s First Congressional District, as Laurie Buckhout won the primary to take on freshman Congressman Don Davis (D, NC-01). The alternative was 2022 nominee Sandy Smith (R), a controversial figure who blew a winnable race in the midterms. The First District contains the Inner Banks and Research Triangle.


In Los Angeles County, the race is still out as embattled Attorney General George Gascón (D) faces a tough primary that is effectively tantamount to a recall. Gascón narrowly leads but only 55% of precincts have reported.
Apart from Super Tuesday, the November elections caught a massive shakeup as Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) announced she will not seek re-election for Arizona’s Senate race.


The move makes perhaps the most dynamic and unpredictable Senate race this year more mainstream, as Congressman Ruben Gallego (D, AZ-03) and 2022 gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake (R) are the presumptive party nominees. Sinema was elected as a Democrat in 2018, becoming the first Democrat to win a Senate race in Arizona since 1988. She became an Independent last winter, but still caucused with the Democrats.


Sinema drew national ire as she became a thorn in Washington Democrats’ sides by bucking the party on controversial legislation, such as voting against ending the Senate filibuster and Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan.
Finally, recent polls show Trump now leading the general election polling average in Maine by more than five points. Such an average is unheard for a Republican in Maine in recent years. No Republican has won Maine since George H. W. Bush in 1988.

State

Governor Kathy Hochul (D) has deployed 750 National Guard troops to perform mandatory bag checks in the New York City subways. The National Guard, along with MTA and NYPD officers, will perform these checks to ensure rider safety after the transit system has long been plagued by violent crimes. While riders can refuse the bag checks, they will be barred from entry to the subway system if they do so.

“They can refuse,” said Hochul. “We can refuse them. They can walk.”

Local

Congressman Nick LaLota (R-Amityville) scored a round of wins as three of his bills passed the House of Representatives, each with unanimous bipartisan support. LaLota’s Service-Disabled Veteran Opportunities in Small Business Act would “amend the Small Business Act to require training for agencies on increasing the number of contracts awarded to Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses.” It was sponsored in May 2023. The DOE and SBA Research Act would “support increased joint research and development activities between the Department of Energy (DOE), National Laboratories, including Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the Small Business Administration.” LaLota sponsored this bill in July 2023. The WOSB Certification and Opportunity Expansion Act would “remove self-certified women-owned small business (WOSB) firms from inclusion in the SBA small business contracting scorecard. This will protect the integrity of the Women-Owned Small Business program by ensuring that all WOSB firms are truly women-owned.” This bill was sponsored in January 2024. “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and I am proud to see my first three bills pass the House today. Each one of these bills will support small businesses across the country in their work to support our entire economy,” said LaLota. “My Service-Disabled Veteran Opportunities in Small Business Act will increase opportunities and capital access for our nation’s heroes. My DOE and SBA Research Act allows facilities like Brookhaven National Laboratory to improve their already successful projects by participating in joint research and development activities. Finally, my WOSB Certification and Opportunity Expansion Act will help women-owned small businesses stay free from fraud.” The bills now head to the Senate for deliberation.

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Matt Meduri serves as the Editor in Chief of the Messenger Papers and writer of America the Beautiful and This Week Today columns. As a graduate of St. Joseph's University, Matt has been working in the political journalism field for over 5 years. He is a multi-instrumentalist, enjoys cooking and writing his own recipes, and traveling throughout the United States including Guam.