HARTFORD – Political incumbents are traditionally well-loved in their hometowns, but sometimes that is not the case for all.

Next week, eight Democratic incumbents in the state legislature are facing challenges for their seats in the August 12 primaries.

Some of those incumbents are in cities like Bridgeport, Hartford and Norwalk, where the balance is often tilted so much to the Democrats that the Republicans fail to put up much of a fight in the district. As such, winning the primary in some districts is tantamount to winning the general election. In hard-core districts, politics is a blood sport, and New Haven politics has been compared to Beirut in the 1980s with warring factions, internal clashes and bitter rivalries.

State Rep. Robert Godfrey, a deputy House Speaker who was first elected as a Danbury Democrat in 1988, said next week's primaries generally relate to intensely local politics.

"Almost all of them are because of some local happenstance, usually based in town committee internal fighting, personality conflict and clashing egos that have little or nothing to do with issues, constituencies, votes, and actions,'' said Godfrey. "It's really local insider baseball. Rarely is it because Representative Smith has done something terribly wrong and the electorate is clamoring for a change. Rarely have I seen that someone has done such a bad job. You would have to go to some of the post-income-tax primaries. We're talking back in the 20th century.''

The most prominent race is in the state Senate, where longtime incumbent Eric Coleman is facing a challenge from Hartford city council president Shawn Wooden and Len Walker, a former member of the Windsor town council. Coleman is one of the longest-serving members of the legislature with 32 years of experience. He first started serving in the House of Representatives in January 1983 when Wooden was only 13 years old.

After more than a decade in the House, Coleman ran for the Senate in 1994 and has become one of the longest-serving members in that chamber. The district covers parts of Hartford, Bloomfield, and Windsor.

Democrats say that the Coleman-Wooden race could turn into a referendum on the potential construction of a minor league baseball stadium for the New Britain Rock Cats near Interstates 84 and 91 in Hartford. Coleman has come out strongly against the stadium, while a smiling Wooden appeared at the initial press conference on the steps of city hall before saying later that he favors a privately financed stadium.

Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams, the highest-ranking senator, is supporting Coleman and two other Senate incumbents in their races across the state.

Sen. Anthony Musto of Trumbull is facing a rematch of his 2008 race against political activist Marilyn Moore, while freshman senator Andres Ayala of Bridgeport is running against librarian Scott Hughes in a district that also includes parts of Stratford.

Ayala won a primary in August 2012 against former Sen. Ernie Newton, who served nearly five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to accepting bribes and other crimes while serving in the legislature. Newton is running in a primary again this year to recapture his former seat in the state House as the Democratic Party-endorsed candidate against challenger Andre Baker.

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey has refused to endorse Newton in the primary and is backing Baker, who has the support of the current incumbent, Rep. Charles "Don'' Clemons. Other House Democrats in the Bridgeport delegation are supporting Baker, but Newton defiantly says that the election will be decided by the local constituents and not by any party leaders in Hartford.

"I'd like to see somebody there in Bridgeport with a clean criminal record come to the General Assembly,'' said Godfrey, who served with Newton in the House for more than 10 years.

Sharkey has helped raise money for Baker, and he is also backing all five House Democratic incumbents who are facing challenges next week. One of the most contentious races pits state Rep. Linda A. Orange against Jason Paul, who is more liberal than the incumbent who has served since 1997. The biggest issue in the race is gun control as Orange has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association for voting against the gun-control bill that was signed by Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy following the shooting deaths of 28 people in Newtown in December 2012.

Paul favors the new gun law and has received an "A'' rating from Connecticut Voters for Gun Safety, a political action committee that supports gun-safety laws.

Another factor in the race is the redistricting of the seat that had previously been concentrated in Orange's home base of Colchester and now includes parts of more-liberal Mansfield and Willimantic. Orange, though, won the general election for the re-districted seat in 2012.

Sometimes primaries are mounted against longtime incumbents who might have worn out their welcome in their home community. Other times, the challenge is against a relative newcomer who is seen as vulnerable because they have not yet established a firm political base that is acquired through years of service.

In Bridgeport, first-term Rep. Christina Ayala is facing a four-way race less than two years after she won the general election in November 2012. Democrats note that the vote could be split so many ways that a candidate with only 30 percent could be declared the victor. She is running against Christopher Rosario, Dennis Bradley, and Teresa Davidson.

One of the most prominent Connecticut politicians who ever faced a primary was U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, who lost the nationally watched Democratic primary to Greenwich upstart Ned Lamont. Lieberman, though, captured thousands of votes from Republicans and unaffiliated voters to win the general election in November.

All the winners Tuesday will be back on the ballot again in November.