Races to watch in West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio and North Carolina primaries

**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**

WEST VIRGINIA

Polls close: 7:30 p.m. ET
Key races: GOP Senate Primary, 3rd House District

Blankenship defiant – AP: “A defiant Don Blankenship fired back after President Donald Trump urged West Virginia voters to support opponents of the former coal executive – and former convict – in the Republican U.S. Senate primary. Blankenship said in a statement: ‘I will win the primary and I will beat Joe Manchin. Neither of my opponents can beat Joe Manchin without my support, but I will beat Joe Manchin even without the support of the establishment.’ Trump tweeted earlier Monday that Blankenship would lose the general election to Manchin, the Democratic incumbent senator. The stakes are high for a Republican Party bracing for major losses in this fall’s midterm elections. A victory Tuesday for Blankenship – who was in prison a year ago – could cost Republicans a Senate seat come November. But the anti-establishment fervor unleashed by Trump’s 2016 campaign has proved difficult for GOP leaders to rein in. Blankenship is among six GOP candidates in Tuesday’s primary. Others include two-term U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins and state Attorney GeneralPatrick Morrisey.”

Open House seat offers Dems rare opportunity in W.Va. – AP:“West Virginia Wesleyan political history professor Robert Rupp said the 3rd District will be the Democrats’ best chance to pick up a U.S. House seat in West Virginia. … The top fundraiser by far among Democrats in the race is state Sen. Richard Ojeda. Rupp calls him a ‘charismatic candidate’ with a powerful story. A retired Army major, Ojeda’s facial bones were broken when he was attacked at a Logan County political cookout days before the 2016 primary. … Ojeda defeated a Senate incumbent in that primary and won his seat that November. Other current state lawmakers in the 3rd District field are Democratic Delegate Shirley Love and Republican Delegates Marty GearheartRupie Phillips and Carol Miller. … Miller, a bison farmer, small business owner and daughter of the late Ohio Congressman Samuel Devine, raised the most money among the Republicans, doubling the hauls of Phillips and former state Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas.”

INDIANA

Polls close: 6 pm ET/CT
Key races: GOP Senate Primary


Indiana Senate candidates face off in volatile GOP primary –
Fox News: “It’s been a volatile primary season as three men, vying to become the Republican nominee for an Indiana Senate seat, fight to prove which one is more conservative and loyal to President Trump. The primary race features two U.S. congressmen — Reps.Todd Rokita and Luke Messer — and businessman Mike Braun, who Politico has dubbed Indiana’s ‘mystery man.’ All three candidates have promised voters they can defeat the incumbent Democrat. Incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, has held the office since 2013. While Donnelly earned Trump’s ire when he didn’t support Republicans’ tax reform plan, he has bucked his own party’s traditional viewpoints for that of more conservative ones. He’s anti-abortion and was one of only three Democrats who voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, the president’s pick. ‘I’ve voted with the president 62 percent of the time,’ Donnelly has told Fox News.”

Dems feel hope from GOP infighting – AP: “An Indiana primary featuring a bitter Republican Senate race also provided optimism Tuesday for Democrats, who hope to recapture some energy after years of watching the red state trend further to the right. Joe Donnelly remains one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats on the ballot this year, but the nasty GOP race to decide who will challenge him has buoyed Democratic confidence that he could survive. The primary season has laid bare the GOP candidates’ baggage. Meanwhile, Democratic congressional candidates in the 2nd District in northern Indiana and 9th District in the south have run spirited campaigns that shaped up as a proxy war between the liberal Bernie Sanders’ wing of the party and more centrist business Democrats. They hope the winners will unseat what they see as vulnerable GOP incumbents in November.”

THE RULEBOOK: SO THEY THOUGHT…
“Stability, on the contrary, requires that the hands in which power is lodged should continue for a length of time the same. A frequent change of men will result from a frequent return of elections…” –James Madison, Federalist No. 37

TIME OUT: ‘STAY GOLD, PONYBOY’
Smithsonian: “Like jazz, the Broadway musical, and the foot-long hot dog, young adult literature is an American gift to the world, an innovative, groundbreaking genre … it sprang into being near the end of the turbulent decade of the 1960s—in 1967, to be specific, a year that saw the publication of two seminal novels for young readers:S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and Robert Lipsyte’s The Contender. Hinton and Lipsyte clearly were writing a new kind of novel for young adults … Before these two novels, literature for 12- to 18-year-olds was about as realistic as aNorman Rockwell painting—almost universally set in small-town, white America and featuring teenagers whose biggest problem was finding a date for the senior prom. Such books were patronizingly called ‘junior novels’ and were typically sweet-spirited romances, a genre that defined the 1940s and 1950s…”

Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with
your tips, comments or questions.

SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
41.2 percent 
Average disapproval: 53.6 percent 
Net Score: 
-12.4 points
Change from one week ago: down 0.4 points 
[Average includes: CBS News: 40% approve – 55% disapprove; CNN: 44% approve – 51% disapprove; Gallup: 42% approve – 52% disapprove; IBD: 38% approve – 56% disapprove; Pew Research Center: 42% approve – 54% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 41.2 percent
Democratic average: 47.2 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 6 points
Change from one week ago: no change 
[Average includes: Pew Research Center: 48% Dems – 43% GOP; Monmouth University: 49% Dems – 41% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 48% Dems – 40% GOP; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% Dems – 39% GOP; ABC News/WaPo: 47% Dems – 43% GOP.]

Share your color commentary:
 Email us at 
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

OHIO
Polls close: 7:30 pm ET
Key races Gubernatorial primaries, GOP Senate Primary, 1st House District, 12th House District

Dems fight for liberal label in Ohio gubernatorial primary – Bloomberg: “The two best known Democrats battling to become the party’s nominee for Ohio governor are fighting over who’s more liberal versus who can get things done.In interviews on Bloomberg Radio on Monday, Richard Cordray, the former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said he’s campaigning on pragmatic solutions such as boosting Obamacare, while former congressman Dennis Kucinich said he’s focused on issues such as providing universal health care and banning assault weapons. … Kucinich, a former mayor of Cleveland and U.S. representative known for his opposition to the Iraq war, is seeking to position himself to the left of Cordray. “In some ways I wonder why he’s even running as a Democrat,” Kucinich said on Bloomberg Radio. … Cordray called some of Kucinich’s policy suggestions “pie in the sky.” He said he “wants to get things done” and will seek to preserve the expansion of Medicaid and improve Obamacare’s insurance exchanges.

DeWine looks ahead to re-unifying Ohio GOP –The Columbus Dispatch: “A confidentMike DeWine is offering words of conciliation amid his oft-bruising primary fight with Lt. Gov.Mary Taylor over who is the most conservative of the pair of Republican candidates for governor. ‘Tuesday night is a transition, a little breather … What divides us as Republicans, as conservatives, is very small. Beginning tomorrow night, we will bring people together,’ DeWine told an audience of about 40 people at a get-out-vote event at Delaware County GOP headquarters Monday afternoon. The second-term attorney general appears headed to a fall election contest with the Democratic nominee as voters cast primary ballots Tuesday following a campaign in which the hard-right and Donald Trump-embracing Taylor portrayed ‘D.C. DeWine’ as a lie-spewing ‘liberal.’ DeWine touted his anti-abortion rights record as a U.S. senator and his moves as attorney general to expand concealed-carry rights as evidence of his conservatism.”

Trump-backed Renacci feeling optimistic – AP: “A Republican congressman backed by President Donald Trump is seeking the nomination to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown in Ohio this fall. Rep.Jim Renacci says he joined the Senate race with White House encouragement, after Ohio TreasurerJosh Mandel withdrew for personal reasons. Renacci had been running for governor, while Cleveland investment banker Mike Gibbons was already in the Senate race. Gibbons raised funds for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and is endorsed by Citizens for Trump, but Trump himself endorsed Renacci. Gibbons has sued Renacci alleging false and defamatory statements, including that Gibbons is anti-Trump. Also seeking the GOP nomination in Tuesday’s primary are Marysville small business owner Melissa Ackison, Cincinnati-area financial management company founder Daniel Kiley and retired public administrator Don Elijah Eckhart from Galloway.”

Dems attack Chabot on his health care record Cincinnati Enquirer: “Ohioans for Economic Opportunity has launched to educate voters on Congressman Steve Chabot’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act and voting record against other health care bills, Politics Extra has learned. ‘We will engage local communities as part of our grassroots campaign to hold Congressman Chabot accountable,’ said Cliff Schecter, CEO of Ohioans for Economic Opportunity. ‘His votes to take away health care and enrich the wealthiest corporations and individuals while Ohio families struggle to make ends meet will not be forgotten.’ The group, which is not affiliated with [Aftab Pureval‘s] campaign, is launching now because Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the House’s vote to repeal and replace Obamacare. Chabot was among 217 members of the House who voted for the bill, which was later killed in the Senate.”

Special election in key district stokes infighting – WashTimes: “In Ohio, a massive field of Republicans is vying to replace Rep. Pat Tiberi in a contest that pits the more moderate and conservative wings of the party against one another…. Kyle Kondik, of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, said the race in Ohio for Mr. Tiberi’s old seat in the suburbs north and east of Columbus, could be the main event in this round … Mr. Tiberi and the Republican Main Street Partnership are supporting state Sen. Troy Balderson, while Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and the political arm of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus has thrown its lot behind insurgent Melanie Leneghan, a Liberty Township trustee who bills herself as a ‘Trump conservative.’ … On the Democratic side, Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor is leading the money chase…The primary winners will face off in an August special election and, barring a surprise, once again in November.”

Votes get their say on gerrymandering – WOSU: “Ohio’s only statewide issue on the May 8 primary ballot nearly didn’t make it – though it’s been talked about for decades. There’s a long history of the complicated Issue 1, which some activists call a historic effort to change the way the Ohio’s Congressional district map is created. Ohio’s current Congressional district map was drawn by Republican state lawmakers with input from party consultants in a Columbus hotel room in 2011. And it shows: The map includes 12 Republican districts and just four Democratic ones in a state that voted forBarack Obama in 2012 and Donald Trump in 2016. As a result, Ohio is considered among the most gerrymandered maps in the country. … Weeks of talks went on with no deal – until finally, days before the deadline to file for the ballot, a compromise arose. It addressed issues of compact districts, partisanship, and more. … The amendment also says a map that would last 10 years, until the next census, must get 50 percent support from the minority party. If that doesn’t happen, the map would be drawn by the bipartisan commission. Then, if that map isn’t approved, a 10-year map could pass with one-third of the minority party’s support. Or a four-year map could be passed without minority party approval, but stricter rules would be attached.”

Dems show up in early voting numbers – The Columbus Dispatch: “Overall, early voting is up about 30 percent this year over 2014, the last comparable gubernatorial election year, the secretary of state’s report said. Democrats have cast about 133,000 early ballots, Republicans 113,000. Another 40,000 mail-in absentee ballots — about 38 percent more Democrats than Republicans — have been requested but not yet returned. Voters who received a mail-in ballot must drop it off at their county board of elections by the time polls close at 7:30 p.m. today. Completed mail-in absentee ballots cannot be turned in at polling places.”

NORTH CAROLINA
Polls close: 7:30 pm ET
Key races: 9th House District, 13th House District

Two longtime GOP congressmen face tough tests today – AP: “The most threatened GOP incumbents may be Robert Pittenger of Charlotte and Walter Jonesof Farmville. Pittenger, in his third term, faces a 9th District GOP rematch with the Rev. Mark Harris, a longtime state Southern Baptist leader who lost to Pittenger in the 2016 primary by only 134 voters. Clarence Goins of Fayetteville is also in the race, which has focused on the Christian conservative credentials of Harris and Pittenger and which candidate is more closely aligned with [President Trump]. The president is also playing a big role in the 3rd District, where Jones is being challenged by Craven County Commissioner Scott Dacey for voting against some of Trump’s agenda items, including the tax overhaul law and health care replacement bill. Phil Law, one of Jones’ 2016 rivals, is also in the race. Jones, a 12-term deficit hawk opposed to the war in Iraq, has said this is the last time he’ll seek re-election.”

Local Dems chafe at DCCC involvement in key primary – 
Triad City Beat: “Democratic Party delegates for North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District passed a resolution … requesting that … the House Democrats’ fundraising arm, stay out of the primary election as voters select a nominee to challenge Republican incumbent
Ted Budd in the state’s most heavily contested congressional race. The resolution … called support by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ‘a disruptive and undemocratic force,’… The DCCC named Kathy Manning, a Greensboro philanthropist and heir to the Kay Chemical fortune who is running in the 13th district, to its ‘Red to Blue’ list shortly after she announced her campaign in December 2017. … Manning’s fundraising totals – $530,000 before filing had even begun – prompted two prospective African-American candidates … to bow out of the race. Manning faces one opponent in the Democratic primary – Adam Coker, a long-haul truck driver who has been campaigning almost continuously since early 2017. To date, Manning has raised $1.3 million, compared to $54,475 by Coker.”

OH HEYYYY
WHNT19: “A family of raccoons made a wild entrance when they crashed through a ceiling and landed in a Michigan homeowner’s living room. Emergency crews responded in Albion Friday evening after receiving a 911 call, according to WXMI. According to a lieutenant with the Sheridan Township Fire Department, a mother raccoon and her babies somehow broke through the ceiling and tumbled down, landing in an upholstered chair, according to the Jackson Citizen Patriot. A man who lives there told emergency crews he heard a loud crash before finding the raccoons. … Their efforts were ultimately successful, thanks to a dog catch pole and a live trap, and the mama raccoon and her babies were released back into the wild in Sheridan Township. The homeowner said he has since fixed what he thinks was the raccoons’ entry point – an area above the front porch, police told the paper.”

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C.