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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

21 mins ago - Health

Africa CDC: Vaccines likely won't be available until Q2 of 2021

Africa CDC director Dr. John Nkengasong. Photo: Mohammed Abdu Abdulbaqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Africa may have to wait until the second quarter of 2021 to roll out vaccines, Africa CDC director John Nkengasong said Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Why it matters: “I have seen how Africa is neglected when drugs are available,” Nkengasong said.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

The winners and losers of the pandemic holiday season

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The pandemic has upended Thanksgiving and the shopping season that the holiday kicks off, creating a new crop of economic winners and losers.

The big picture: Just as it has exacerbated inequality in every other facet of American life, the coronavirus pandemic is deepening inequities in the business world, with the biggest and most powerful companies rapidly outpacing the smaller players.

Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

The daily rate of new coronavirus infections rose by about 10 percent in the final week before Thanksgiving, continuing a dismal trend that may get even worse in the weeks to come.

Why it matters: Travel and large holiday celebrations are most dangerous in places where the virus is spreading widely — and right now, that includes the entire U.S.

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