Key races in Tuesday’s midterms

Aaron Blake (c) 2014, The Washington Post. A look at some key races in Tuesday’s elections:

Governor’s races

Florida: This is probably the biggest governor’s race in the country — or at least the most high-profile race that is still tight. Republican Gov. Rick Scott faces former Gov. Charlie Crist, who served in that office as a Republican from 2007 to 2011 but now is a Democrat. The two have been virtually tied in the polls for months. Democrats would really like Crist to win, if for no other reason than they wield little power in Florida. Neither candidate is popular, though.

Wisconsin: The big question here is whether Republican Gov. Scott Walker can hang on to win his third race in four years. He emerged politically stronger, with a national profile, after surviving a 2012 recall attempt, but now he’s in a tight race with Democratic challenger Mary Burke. If he wins again, he probably will be a serious potential presidential candidate or maybe even a vice presidential choice. If he loses, he can probably say goodbye to that.

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Massachusetts: If you recall the name Martha Coakley, it’s probably not for good reasons. She is the state attorney general who lost a 2010 special Senate election in deep-blue Massachusetts to GOP candidate Scott Brown — the tip of the iceberg in a 2010 election in which Republicans reaped huge gains. Well, this year, she is running for governor, and if you believe the late polling, she is likely to become a two-time loser. Charlie Baker, a Republican, has gradually rallied, meaning Coakley could soon be associated with electoral failure in Massachusetts.

Alaska: Lots of people have noticed independent Greg Orman’s Kansas Senate campaign — a race in which the Democratic candidate dropped out and gave Orman a fighting chance. A similar thing is happening in Alaska, where the Democratic nominee became the running mate of Bill Walker, an independent. Walker leads Republican Gov. Sean Parnell in most recent polls, but Alaska is hugely unpredictable when it comes to polling.

House races

New York’s 11th District: Rep. Michael Grimm, a Republican, is under indictment and earlier this year threatened to throw a reporter off a U.S. Capitol balcony. But he still sought reelection. And he’s still alive in this swing district, which primarily covers Staten Island. Grimm faces former New York City councilman Domenic Recchia in an unexpectedly tight race, and he earned the endorsement of Staten Island’s leading newspaper, the Advance, which cited Recchia’s “astonishing incoherence in public statements.”

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Arizona’s 2nd District: Rep. Ron Barber, a Democrat, is the former Gabrielle Giffords aide who won her seat after she resigned. He narrowly survived in his 2012 reelection campaign, though, and was perhaps the GOP’s top target heading into this year in a district that leans slightly toward Republicans. His opponent, both in 2012 and today, is Martha McSally, a Republican who in 1991 became the first American woman to fly a combat mission. Meanwhile, Giffords’ pro-gun-control group, Americans for Responsible Solutions, has spent heavily to try to save Barber.

California’s 52nd District: Freshman Rep. Scott Peters, a Democrat, represents one of the truest swing districts in the country, in the San Diego area, which means he was always going to be a top target. So the GOP recruited a big name — former city councilman Carl DeMaio, who lost a tight race for San Diego mayor in 2012. DeMaio could become the first gay Republican elected to Congress. But his campaign has been beset by controversies, including accusations of sexual harassment by a former campaign staffer.

West Virginia’s 3rd District: Rep. Nick Rahall II, a Democrat, won his first election for Congress in 1976, and at 65, he has spent more than half his life as a congressman. His problem is that his district voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 by a nearly 2-to-1 margin — a reflection of its conservatism. His opponent is state Sen. Evan Jenkins, who switched parties to become a Republican before entering the race against Rahall.