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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Primary season kicks off in earnest this week, with major congressional contests in Ohio and North Carolina on Tuesday and even more on the docket in Pennsylvania on May 15.

Why it matters: While Democrats remain the favorites to retake the House in November, the primary landscape is littered with land mines for both parties.

Dem newbies: Democrats have a bumper crop of self-recruited House candidates raising gobs of cash in 2018. Of the leading Democrats in the 56 GOP-held districts rated as vulnerable (Lean Republican or worse) by the Cook Political Report, 31 are women, 16 are military veterans and 14 are freshly out-of-work Obama administration vets. 

  • But strikingly, there are only eight state legislators — the classic breeding ground for House hopefuls.
  • This has its advantages: These candidates are outsiders and don’t have a voting record to defend.
  • But, but, but: Given the volume of Democrats running, it also means many haven’t been fully vetted.
  • And in many places, Democrats are at risk of nominating badly flawed candidates.

Pennsylvania’s new map was a gift to Democrats, but it turns out good candidates are as critical as good districts. For example, if self-funding multi-millionaire attorney and recent Maryland/South Africa resident Scott Wallace wins Tuesday’s primary, it could throw Bucks County GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) a life raft.

Am I tripping? The oddest frontrunner in Tuesday’s Democratic primaries might be 27-year Lehigh Valley prosecutor John Morganelli, running for GOP Rep. Charlie Dent’s open seat, PA-07.

  • At Tea Party gatherings (you read that right), the Democrat has bragged about teaming with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — an immigration hardliner who was on Trump's transition team — to crack down on illegal immigration.
  • In late 2016, Morganelli sent (since-deleted) tweets at Trump to lobby for an administration post: “Waiting to hear from transition. Met you in Bedminster when I played Member Guest.”
  • EMILY’s List is furiously scrambling to stop Morganelli. If he prevails, he could prolong a Democratic civil war in a key seat.

Rescue squad goals: The GOP’s House majority is so endangered that the party's narrow path may depend on party groups personalizing/localizing races by unleashing damning opposition research to disqualify Democratic nominees faster than Mike Allen is scaring away fish this weekend. #DrivingThe Boat

Go deeper

Instagram's boss faces Congress' questions on harm to teens

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for WIRED

The head of Instagram will find himself in Congress' crosshairs for the first time Wednesday in the one area lawmakers have shown they are willing to pass tech regulations — protecting youngsters online.

Why it matters: Republicans and Democrats have found common ground in grilling tech companies on how their products harm children, especially after revelations in The Wall Street Journal about Instagram's potential harm to the mental health of teen girls.

Jan. 6 committee to start contempt proceedings against Meadows

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The Jan. 6 select committee plans to move forward with contempt proceedings against former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows for his refusal to comply with the panel's subpoena.

Why it matters: The committee has used the threat of contempt — and the associated financial and reputational costs — to try to ensure evasive witnesses sit for their depositions.

Complaint to FTC: Amazon search results full of potentially deceiving ads

Photo: Nigel Kirby/Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Amazon does not sufficiently distinguish between its search results and paid ads, potentially "deceiving millions of consumers," according to a complaint filed to the Federal Trade Commission.

Why it matters: Joan Moriarty, research director for the Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition of labor unions that filed the complaint, told the Washington Post the group is "very hopeful" that the FTC will investigate the complaint because Lina Khan (D), a known Amazon critic, is now chair.

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