Nation

Trump supporter Barletta wins GOP nod to take on Sen. Casey

NEW YORK — A state representative, an Air Force veteran, and a college professor — all women — won Democratic congressional primaries on Tuesday in Pennsylvania, where a record number of women ran for House seats in a year of intense political enthusiasm among female Democrats.

Madeleine Dean, the state House member, Chrissy Houlahan, the veteran, and Mary Gay Scanlon, the lawyer, each won in Philadelphia suburban districts that they are now favored to carry in November, according to results from the Associated Press. Their primary victories raise the prospect of women cracking the state’s all-male congressional delegation of 20 after midterm elections.

They won in districts that were redrawn to replace a gerrymandered Republican map that the state Supreme Court ruled illegal in January. The new map of the state’s 18 House districts — and the ebullience it set off among Democrats hoping to capture the House of Representatives in the midterms — put Pennsylvania front and center among four states that held primaries on Tuesday.

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President Trump narrowly won Pennsylvania in 2016 and Democrats, seeking to tap into grass-roots rejection of the president, badly want a version of a do-over in the midterms. And the state will be critical to determining whether Republicans or Democrats win control of the House in November.

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Nationwide, Democrats need to flip two dozen Republican-held seats to gain a majority in the House. Under the new congressional map, Democrats have a shot at flipping at least three and possibly as many as six seats this fall in the Keystone State, most in a collar of counties around Philadelphia.

Redistricting recognized the shifting demographics that have remade the region from a once-solid Republican enclave.

But the National Republican Congressional Committee, the party’s chief spending arm, is not easily ceding races in the suburbs. The committee has reserved $7.8 million in television advertising for the fall in the Philadelphia market, a spokesman confirmed Tuesday, its largest early spending commitment of any region nationally.

Dean was the winner in a suburban district in Montgomery County considered a safe Democratic seat after redistricting. Houlahan had the good fortune of being the only Democrat running in a district almost as safe, centered in Chester County, which Hillary Clinton won two years ago by 9 percentage points.

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The House races were the centerpiece but not the only show in Pennsylvania. In two important statewide primaries for the right to challenge Democratic incumbents — for governor and the US Senate — the favorites carried the day.

Lou Barletta, a congressman from Luzerne County, who made a reputation on unflinching opposition to unauthorized immigrants and became an early supporter of Trump, won the Republican nomination to challenge Senator Bob Casey Jr., a mild-mannered politician who has become a relentless critic of Trump.

Casey, 58, is popular with labor unions and backed former president Barack Obama’s signature policies.

Barletta, 62, won his House seat during the Republican midterm wave of 2010, catapulted by the attention he received while mayor of Hazleton for attempting to use local laws to crack down on undocumented immigrants.

Casey is among 10 Democratic senators seeking reelection this year in states won by Trump, making him a target for Republicans. While strategists in both parties are monitoring Pennsylvania, most are not counting on the seat flipping Republican.

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In a campaign phone message he recorded, Trump called Casey the ‘‘handpicked guy’’ of Senate minority leader Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, using a strategy Republicans have deployed in other states to tie candidates to party leaders.

Barely any outside money has made its way into Pennsylvania to help Casey or Barletta, making it extremely unlikely that residents will see a repeat of the record-breaking $180 million US Senate race in 2016 that Pennsylvania’s Republican Senator Pat Toomey won by fewer than 2 percentage points.

In the gubernatorial primary, Scott Wagner, a state senator whose fortune from waste hauling led to an inevitable campaign slogan that he would be Pennsylvania’s “cleanup guy,” won the nomination to challenge Governor Tom Wolf.

Wagner and Wolf are ideological opposites. Their fall race is expected to include fierce disagreement over Wagner’s support of anti-union “right to work” legislation, in a state where organized labor remains strong.

In addition to Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Idaho, and Oregon held nominating contests.

Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer notched an easy Republican primary victory despite challenges from four GOP candidates who sought to take her seat in deep-red Nebraska.

She will be heavily favored in the general election against Lincoln City Councilwoman and grocery store executive Jane Raybould, who defeated three challengers in the Democratic primary.

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In the gubernatorial primary in the Cornhusker State, state Senator Bob Krist of Omaha won the Democratic nomination to face incumbent Republican Governor Pete Ricketts.

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In Oregon, state Representative Knute Buehler won the GOP gubernatorial primary, besting a crowded field vying to compete against incumbent Democrat Kate Brown.

Material from The Washington Post and the Associated Press was used in this report.