By definition, Tuesday was a good night for all the winners of the “Acela primary” — elections in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
But as with any primary, the victories weren’t created equal.
While some candidates who emerged from contested races will likely coast to victory in November, others, specifically in those first two states, are either at the beginning of the end or the start of stunning upsets.
Here are eight “Acela” winners facing uphill battles in the general election:
- Kathy Szeliga — This Maryland Senate hopeful emerged from a crowded Republican field and finished with 36 percent of the vote, 23 points ahead of her nearest GOP rival. As the highest-ranking Republican woman in the state legislature, House Minority Whip, she stressed gender against an all-male field of opponents, arguing she’d do well with a Maryland electorate that’s 60 percent female. (“I immediately appeal to more than half of the voters as somebody who’s walked in those high heels,” Szeliga told InsideSources in February.) Republicans are hoping to replicate the success of Gov. Larry Hogan’s surprise win in 2014, but Democratic Senate nominee Chris Van Hollen, currently representing the eighth congressional district, is the strong favorite in the deep-blue state.
- Joe Werner — This Maryland lawyer won narrowly in a bizarre Democratic race for the first congressional district against former Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton. According to news reports, Werner hardly campaigned for the job, leading Ireton to blame his loss on gerrymandering and marvel, “I just got beat by the guy who didn’t leave his house.” Werner faces Rep. Andy Harris, a Republican seen as safe in his conservative coastal constituency.
- Pat McDonough — A Republican member of the Maryland House of Delegates, he’s up against Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger in the second congressional district, one of several Democratic incumbents in seats deemed safe.
- Mark Plaster — In Maryland’s third congressional district, this Republican emergency room doctor and Iraq War veteran is taking on a five-term incumbent Democrat, Rep. John Sarbanes. It’s a tall order, even for a man who once saved Vice President Joe Biden’s life when treating him for a brain aneurysm.
- George McDermott — A longtime activist, he’s the Republican nominee in the fourth congressional district against former lieutenant governor Anthony Brown, a Democrat who lost to Hogan in the 2014 gubernatorial race. The district is currently represented by Rep. Donna Edwards, who lost to Van Hollen in Tuesday’s Democratic race for Senate.
- Mark Arness — Rep. Steny Hoyer, the Democrat who’s represented Maryland’s fifth congressional district since 1981, is facing this Republican, a former Air Force doctor.
- Dan Cox — This lawyer won the Republican nomination to face state Sen. Jamie Raskin, who won the Democratic nomination in Maryland’s liberal eight congressional district. Raskin defeated Total Wine & More founder David Trone and Kathleen Matthews, the former WJLA-TV anchor and Mariott executive, in an expensive high-profile contest.
- Mary Ellen Balchunis — Rep. Patrick Meehan, the Republican representing Pennsylvania’s seventh congressional district, is set for a rematch with this La Salle University political science professor, who challenged him in 2014. She lost by 24 points.