WASHINGTON -- Voters in five states go to the polls Tuesday to bring this year's primary cycle to a near close. Louisiana holds a nonpartisan primary on Nov. 4, and that race could be drawn out until early December if no candidate gets at least 50 percent of the vote.
In Massachusetts, Attorney General Martha Coakley is running for political redemption. And former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) is trying to return to the chamber to represent New Hampshire, where he could end the state's all-female congressional delegation. While Rhode Island's Democratic gubernatorial primary is competitive, New York's isn't -- though law school professor Zephyr Teachout has still managed to draw attention to some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) shortcomings for progressive voters.
Here's a look at the key races The Huffington Post is watching:
NEW HAMPSHIRE SENATE: Though Brown called his December move to New Hampshire "strictly personal," the relocation was immediately seen as a transparent bid to unseat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). What's followed has been a campaign handicapped by missteps, as Brown has driven around the state in his trademark pickup truck to cement his Granite State credentials. The former senator has hidden in a bathroom to avoid a reporter's questions about his position on the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling, said he doesn't believe the science supporting man-made climate change has been proved (despite past statements to the contrary) and criticized Shaheen for voting to increase the debt ceiling, though he did too.
Brown is expected to clinch the Republican nomination Tuesday, despite the occasional slip-up as to which state he's running in. Democrats have practically ignored Brown's opponents, who include former state Sen. Jim Rubens -- the only Republican senate candidate whose campaign website affirms that global warming exists and is caused by human activity. Brown has notably changed his campaign strategy since he lost to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in 2012 -- Democrats have hit him for rejecting a "people's pledge" to discourage outside electoral spending, which Warren and Brown agreed to during that race. Indeed, opposition researchers have even gone so far as to chase Brown by canoe as they look for his next gaffe. HuffPost Pollster, which combines all publicly available polling data, shows Shaheen leading Brown by more than 5 percentage points, so he has two months to make up that difference.
NEW HAMPSHIRE-1: LGBT-rights groups are working to elevate former University of New Hampshire Dean Dan Innis, who is one of three openly gay GOP House candidates running this cycle, over former Rep. Frank Guinta (R-N.H.), who is attempting to return to the seat he once held. The district is undeniably competitive, as Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.) lost it to Guinta in 2010 only to beat him in 2012. Conservative groups such as Americans for Prosperity, which is funded by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, have run ads tying Shea-Porter to her early support for health care reform.
NEW HAMPSHIRE-2: In the Granite State's slightly less competitive 2nd District, Republicans have waged a bitter primary to take on Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.). State Sen. Marilinda Garcia is considered one of the GOP's bright young prospects. She's acknowledged as much, saying her party has an optics problem and is "being populated mostly by old, white men." Though Garcia's opponents have accused her of supporting a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) didn't seem to have a problem with her past statements on the matter, as he came to promote her candidacy on Sunday. Garcia, who has also received support from the conservative Club for Growth, seems to have the edge heading into Tuesday's primary, though the National Republican Congressional Committee has put both former state Sen. Gary Lambert and Garcia "on the radar."
MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: Recent polling indicates that Coakley will likely beat state Treasurer Steve Grossman and former federal health care official Don Berwick in the mostly amicable Democratic primary to succeed Gov. Deval Patrick (D), who is stepping down after eight years in office. Coakley would be the state's first female governor if she beats former health care executive Charlie Baker (R), who lost to Patrick in 2010. She has run a disciplined campaign to avoid the missteps that doomed her bid to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) that same year. Baker, who faces a little-known tea party challenger on Tuesday, could still eke out a general election win in a state that isn't afraid to elect Republican governors despite its progressive leanings.
MASSACHUSETTS-6: Both party's primaries in this district are intriguing: Immigration lawyer Marisa DeFranco and former Marine Seth Moulton are challenging Rep. John Tierney on the Democratic side, while former Massachusetts Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei, who is openly gay, is running on the GOP side once again. Tisei, who boycotted the state's Republican Party convention to protest its platform on marriage equality, has received support from the national Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. Tierney continues to be vulnerable due to his family's gambling scandal. Moulton has capitalized on voter awareness of the past controversy, saying he'd provide fresh representation in Congress. His campaign received a boost with The Boston Globe's endorsement.
NEW YORK GOVERNOR: Voters in the Empire State will chose candidates in statewide elections on Tuesday. (The state held its congressional primary elections in June.) Though Cuomo is expected to coast to the nomination, Teachout's bid has highlighted his administration's controversial move to hinder an ethics panel the governor created. And despite Cuomo's best efforts, Teachout will be on Tuesday's ballot. She has received support from Mayday PAC, an anti-corruption PAC, as well as the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. Polls have shown Cuomo maintaining a strong cushion against Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, as voters don't seem to be widely aware of the news about the governor's incapacitating of the anti-corruption commission.
RHODE ISLAND GOVERNOR: In one of this year's rare competitive Democratic gubernatorial primaries, state Treasurer Gina Raimondo, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and attorney Clay Pell are vying to succeed retiring Gov. Lincoln Chafee (D). Taveras, who has the backing of most local labor groups (the teachers unions are supporting Pell), has slammed Raimondo for her role in crafting polarizing pension reform legislation. While Raimondo would be Rhode Island's first female governor, Taveras would be the state's first Latino governor and is banking on strong support from Providence's Latino community to make that outcome happen. Pell had his wife, figure-skating star Michelle Kwan, cut an ad for him, has the familial name recognition as the grandson of the late Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-R.I.) and possesses the personal wealth to self-fund his campaign, but polls show him trailing the other two candidates.