HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Pennsylvania voters are expected to seal the nomination of state Treasurer Bob Casey today to run against conservative Republican Senator Rick Santorum, and voters may also show whether they are still angry at lawmakers for giving themselves a big pay raise in the middle of the night.
Primaries are also being held today in Oregon, where Governor Ted Kulongoski faces two rivals for the Democratic nomination, and in Kentucky, where there are lively Democratic contests in at least two congressional districts.
Casey is the son of the late Governor Robert P. Casey and a longtime state officeholder who, like his father, is against abortion. He was recruited by national Democratic leaders to take on Santorum, and most early polls have shown him with a double-digit lead over the two-term senator.
The race is being closely watched nationally because Santorum, the number three Senate Republican, is closely allied with President Bush on issues such as gay marriage and private accounts for Social Security.
Casey's rivals for the Democratic nomination are pension lawyer Alan Sandals and college professor Chuck Pennacchio, have trailed badly the polls.
Pennsylvania's race for governor features former Pittsburgh Steelers star Lynn Swann, who is unopposed for the Republican nomination. Swann's star power knocked out an earlier GOP contestant, former lieutenant governor Bill Scranton. Swann aims to unseat Governor Ed Rendell, a former Philadelphia mayor with no opposition in today's primary. If Swann succeeds, he will be Pennsylvania's first black governor.
In the 253-member Legislature, 61 incumbents face challenges in the primary -- the most since 1980 -- following a public uproar over lawmakers' furtive attempt to give themselves a big raise last year.
Legislators boosted their salaries by up to 54 percent during a dead-of-night vote taken with no public hearing or floor debate. Four months later, after an outcry, they reversed themselves.
Most of the challengers on the ballot were recruited by PACleanSweep, a group organized at the peak of the furor with the goal of bringing about major turnover in the Legislature.
''This is the real ballgame," said Russ Diamond, the group's founder, who is also running for governor as an independent.