Tuesday’s primary elections are shaping up to be among the most consequential in the 2022 cycle.
The latest primaries featured contests in Arizona and Michigan, which were ground zero in former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election. A referendum on abortion in Kansas also drew nationwide attention.
- Abortion rights drove turnout and a stunning upset for anti-abortion advocates in conservative Kansas. Even in heavily red districts where former President Donald Trump held double-digit margins in 2016 and 2020, voters overwhelmingly chose to protect abortion rights.
- Trump-backed candidates pulled ahead in Arizona’s GOP primaries, showing, if early election results hold, a sign of the sway the former president still has over Republicans in the state.
- In Michigan, Trump-backed Tudor Dixon won the GOP gubernatorial primary and will face Democratic incumbent Gretchen Whitmer in the fall. A close contest between incumbent Rep. Peter Meijer and GOP challenger John Gibbs underscores the struggle in the party between Republican establishment candidates and those endorsed by Trump.
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Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who testified at the House Select Committee hearings on the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot about rebuffing Trump’s request to help him overturn the 2020 election, lost to Trump-backed David Farnsworth in a state Senate race.
With some races were too close to call early Wednesday in Arizona, several of Trump’s preferred candidates in the state were leading in other GOP races.
Wendy Rogers, another Trump-backed candidate, had a big lead over Kelly Townsend in their state Senate race. Rogers was censured by the state Senate earlier this year for making statements endorsing violence and political retribution. The conservative lawmakers found themselves in the same district after boundaries were redrawn for this year. Townsend was previously running for Congress but dropped her bid after a promised endorsement from Trump never materialized, she said.
Republican Blake Masters, who’s backed by both Trump and tech investor Peter Thiel, was declared the U.S. Senate primary winner by the Associated Press after building a lead over former solar power executive Jim Lamon and Mark Brnovich, the current Arizona attorney general. Masters will face Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly in the November general election.
Mark Finchem was declared the Republican primary winner in the secretary of state race, and Abe Hamadeh led his competitors for attorney general. Both men were Trump-endorsed, and both denied Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election in Arizona.
Trump-endorsed Kari Lake and Karrin Taylor Robson, who was endorsed by former Vice President Mike Pence, were in a virtual tie in the race for the GOP nomination for governor.
The winner will face Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s current secretary of state, who easily won the Democratic nomination for governor.
– Taylor Seely
Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, backed by former President Donald Trump, was down by 7 points to Karrin Taylor Robson, who is endorsed by former Vice President Mike Pence. The race pits Trump and Pence against each other and tests the future of the Republican Party as one of election denial or traditional conservative values.
Though Lake was behind, she said during a speech to supporters Tuesday night that she had won.
Trump-backed Blake Masters won the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. Masters is one of Trump’s strongest supporters among midterm Senate candidates, calling to finish the former president’s controversial border wall and resume his agenda if he is elected.
Mark Finchem, who is also backed by Trump, was running ahead of Beau Lane by about 10 points in the race for secretary of state.
– Candy Woodall
Rep. Peter Meijer, R-Mich., one of ten House Republicans who voted to impeach President Donald Trump over the Jan. 6 insurrection, lost a Republican primary Tuesday to Trump-backed challenger John Gibbs, according to race calls by CNN and NBC.
Meijer is now one of at least six GOP impeachers who will not be returning to Congress next year. Four have retired, while a Trump-backed candidate defeated Rep. Tom Rice, R-S.C., in a June primary.
— David Jackson
Donald Trump is looking at mixed results in his effort to defeat three House Republicans who impeached him over the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021.
Rep. Peter Meijer, R-Mich., one of 10 House Republicans who voted for impeachment, was losing a Republican primary early Wednesday to Trump-backed challenger John Gibbs.
Gibbs, a former official with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, took a lead over Meijer in a race in which he received help from Democrats as well as Trump loyalists.
Two other Republican impeachers – Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse, both of Washington state – appeared to be on track to surviving the open primaries that included Trumpy challengers.
Under Washington’s system, the top two finishers in a primary move on to the general election, regardless of party. Beutler and Newhouse are in solid positions to do just that in their separate primaries.
The margins in all of these races are narrow, and the Associated Press had not called them as of 1:30 a.m. ET Wednesday.
– David Jackson
“Tonight, Kansans used their voices to protect women’s right to choose and access reproductive health care,” President Joe Biden tweeted. “It’s an important victory for Kansas, but also for every American who believes that women should be able to make their own health decisions without government interference.”
Advocates both for and against abortion in Kansas expected the vote to be close ahead of Tuesday night’s primary, but the margin was so decisive – 61%-39% – that news outlets called the vote fewer than two hours after polls closed.
With 83% of the vote counted, the tally was approximately 470,00 votes to 304,000 votes, as of 10:30 p.m. CT Tuesday.
– Katherine Swartz
Read the whole story here:Kansas upholds right to abortion, a blow to anti-abortion movement in first Roe referendum
After Kansas voters upheld the right to an abortion in an upset victory for pro-abortion rights supporters, abortions rights groups took a victory lap celebrating the vote.
“The vote, which comes just over a month after the U.S. Supreme Court revoked federal abortion rights, demonstrates once again that voters across the country do not want politicians interfering in their health care decisions,” said Planned Parenthood Action in a statement.
“Today the voters of Kansas spoke and their resounding NO makes clear they value their liberty, freedom and right to bodily autonomy,” said Emiliana Guereca, founder and executive director of Women’s March Action, an advocacy group that focuses on electing pro-abortion rights candidates.
In Kansas, Nigel Morton, senior Kansas state organizer at URGE, another pro-abortion rights group, said tonight’s vote “is a major victory not just for Kansans but for people across the region whose abortion access had already been severely limited or stripped away completely by their home state.”
— Kenneth Tran
Polls closed in Washington at 11 p.m. ET, in the final primary race of the night.
It’s another state where former President Donald Trump’s influence will be tested. He is backing two challengers to House incumbents Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse, who both voted to impeach him after Jan. 6, 2021.
– Candy Woodall
In the nation’s first statewide vote on abortion after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Kansas voters upheld the right to an abortion.
Abortion rights have been guaranteed by the Kansas state supreme court since 2019, even as lawmakers have heavily restricted abortion through measures such as the state’s 22-week ban, 24-hour waiting period and mandatory ultrasounds.
Republican lawmakers and the grassroots movement Value Them Both Coalition pushed to amend the state constitution to eliminate the right to an abortion, which would have allowed lawmakers to ban abortion in the state.
– Katherine Swartz
U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., defeated fellow Democrat Andy Levin in a primary that matched two incumbent lawmakers who had been redrawn into the same congressional district.
Progressives like Bernie Sanders had backed Levin, but Stevens scored an easy win in the newly drawn district in the suburbs just to the west and northwest of Detroit.
For example, Stevens led Levin in Pontiac, a city where Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren had campaigned for Levin.
– David Jackson
Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab said that voter turnout across the state was significantly higher than expected by evening and appeared to be “within reach” of hitting 50%. That would be the kind of turnout generally seen in a November midterm election in Kansas, which have averaged 52% over the past 20 years.
Typically, primary elections in Kansas are limited to the two major parties, but unaffiliated voters can cast a vote in this election for the constitutional amendment on abortion.
“I’m actually pretty satisfied everything is going as smooth as it is for as busy as it is,” Wyandotte County Election Commissioner Michael Abbott said.
– Associated Press
Businesswoman and conservative commentator Tudor Dixon won the Republican primary for Michigan governor on Tuesday, setting up a tough general election race against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
The mother of four made education a top issue of her campaign, saying she wants to keep drag queens and talk of sex and gender out of elementary schools. She opposes abortion, except to save the life of the mother, and says Michigan should eliminate the requirement for permits to carry concealed weapons.
Dixon is a former steel industry executive who also hosted a conservative program on a streaming channel and once acted in low-budget zombie movies in what her campaign described as an “admittedly lame” hobby.
Aside from being endorsed by former president Donald Trump. she also has backing from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, several anti-abortion groups, and the prominent Michigan Republican family of Betsy DeVos, who was education secretary in Trump’s Cabinet but was critical of him and resigned after the Jan. 6, 2021, riot.
– Associated Press
Arizona polls closed at 10 p.m. ET, with vote counting beginning in some of the most consequential midterm primaries.
Heavily contested races for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate and governor have attracted endorsements from former President Donald Trump, who is backing candidates that have supported his unproven election conspiracies.
Meanwhile, former Vice President Mike Pence is supporting a GOP gubernatorial candidate who is running against Trump’s pick.
– Candy Woodall
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt came out on top of a crowded Republican Senate primary after incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., announced he would not be seeking re-election.
The general election race is expected to favor Republicans.
The crowded field also included former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who resigned from his post after sexual assault allegations and campaign finance accusations surfaced. Greitens denied the allegations.
– Ken Tran
The Michigan governor’s race is set.
Tudor Dixon, a conservative media commentator who is backed by former President Donald Trump, won the Michigan GOP primary for governor on Tuesday.
She will face incumbent Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in the November election.
– Candy Woodall
As Michigan voters headed to the polls and returned absentee ballots Tuesday in the state’s primary election, some in a handful of communities encountered hiccups, and, in one instance, prompted the Secretary of State’s Office to ask a county clerk to supervise the election in a small township in west Michigan instead of the local clerk.
“It’s a very small fraction of the total voters and their experiences,” said Jake Rollow, a spokesperson for Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “The vast majority of voters will have had a very smooth experience casting their ballot.”
Benson heralded Election Day as a success, speaking outside her own polling location Tuesday.
“I would say there’s a lot of enthusiasm for this primary,” she said after she greeted election workers at Louis Pasteur Elementary School on Detroit’s west side. “This is certainly a lot of activity for a primary election and that’s great to see, and we’ve seen smoothness at the polling places throughout the day throughout Michigan.”
– Clara Hendrickson and David Boucher, Detroit Free Press
With 31% reporting, the Associated Press has called the Kansas gubernatorial Democratic primary for Laura Kelly.
Kelly so far has received 96% of the vote, with primary challenger Richard Karnowski at 4%.
While Kelly sailed through her primary as expected, her true test will come in November against Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who won the Republican primary with 77% of the vote, according to the Associated Press.
Kelly is governor of a state with Republican supermajorities in the state legislature and where former President Donald Trump won by 15 percentage points in 2020.
– Katherine Swartz
The remaining polling places in Kansas and Michigan closed at 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Polls in other areas of the states closed an hour earlier because of time zones.
Abortion and former President Donald Trump’s influence loom large in these state elections, where ballot counting is ongoing.
– Candy Woodall
The first poll closings of the night have taken place in Missouri, Kansas, and Michigan, though there are caveats with the last two.
Because of time zones, some polling places in Kansas and Michigan will remain open until 9 p.m., eastern.
Still, vote counting is commencing on this busy primary night.
– David Jackson
In Arizona, candidate-fueled conspiracy leads to stolen pens
Voters reacting to an election conspiracy claim were taking government-issued pens from Maricopa County polling stations as Tuesday’s primary got underway in Arizona.
Poll workers at two stations reported the pilfered pens after one candidate encouraged voters not to use the pens because, she said, the ink could be altered.
Gail Golec, a Republican running for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, told followers on Twitter to substitute the Pentel pens and use blue ink ones. The Pentel pens, she said, “can insert votes that appear like a felt tip pens.”
The Maricopa County attorney on Tuesday ordered Golec to stop encouraging voters to replace government-issued pens and to “immediately” tweet a retraction.
– Robert Anglen and Sasha Hupka, Arizona Republic
The Michigan Republican Party canceled its election night watch party after receiving “several death threats” this week, according to Michigan GOP Deputy Chief of Staff Gustavo Portela.
Threats escalated earlier Tuesday when the party’s building received threats from a bystander who verbally assaulted a female staffer and indicated “he was planning on shooting up the building and burning it down,” Portela said in a statement.
“Our party won’t be deterred, and we will continue to work tirelessly for Republican policies despite ongoing threats,” the statement said. “No type of violence against women should ever be tolerated.”
– Candy Woodall
The Grand Canyon State will be a centerpiece on Tuesday for another round of the GOP primary tug-of-war between Trump and other Republican rivals.
At the gubernatorial level, Kari Lake, a former TV journalist backed by Trump, is going up against Karrin Taylor Robson, a former member of the Arizona Board of Regents, who has been endorsed by former Vice President Mike Pence and incumbent Gov. Doug Ducey.
More than likely the winner of the Republican contest will face Democrat Katie Hobbs, the secretary of state who was thrust into the national spotlight for resisting false assertions about the 2020 election.
Also on the ballot for Arizona Republican//s// is a field of seven vying to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, who is trying to keep the seat he just won in 2020.
Among those running are Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, businessman Jim Lamon and Blake Masters, who is backed by Trump and tech billionaire Peter Thiel.
Masters earned Trump’s support by embracing the former president’s lies about the last presidential race and has recently cast doubt on the legitimacy of the midterm elections.
— Phillip M. Bailey
‘They want to damage me’:Trump campaigns as victim at Arizona rally
Arizona’s Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who testified before the Jan. 6 committee about harassment he received for refusing to help former President Donald Trump overturn his state’s election results, faces Trump-backed David Farnsworth on Tuesday for his seat in Arizona state’s 25th district.
“I’ve got a former president running against me. I’m not running against David Farnsworth,” Bowers told Insider in July. “I’m running against Donald Trump. It’s his name that’s propping up Dave Farnsworth.”
Bowers told the Jan. 6 committee in June that after Trump advertisements urged supporters to contact lawmakers to pressure them to overturn their election results, he received more than 20,000 emails and tens of thousands of voicemails and texts. The pressure campaign ultimately resulted in weekly protests outside Bowers’ home, including one where there was an armed man.
Bowers’ primary is another test of Trump’s influence in the Grand Canyon State.
— Ella Lee
Incumbent Democrat Laura Kelly surprised many political observers when she upset Republican Kris Kobach in the 2018 governor’s race.
But four years later the GOP is betting it’s harder to be a red state Democrat now.
Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who is endorsed by Trump, is expected to seize the Republican nomination. The former president won the Sunflower State by 14 points in 2020 and by 20 points in 2016.
There is also anxiety about Rep. Sharice Davids, the only Democrat in Kansas’ congressional delegation. Her seat was significantly changed by the Republican-controlled state legislature during redistricting, and attempts to overturn those changes failed in court.
Davids, a former mixed martial artists, held what had been considered a safe seat, but after the maps were redrawn it is rated as one of the 26 Democratic “toss-up” races by The Cook Political Report.
— Phillip M. Bailey
First post-Roe referendum
Voters in Kansas will decide whether their state Constitution protects the right to have an abortion, which makes it the first statewide amendment up for a vote since the Supreme Court knocked down Roe v. Wade this summer.
If the so-called Value Them Both amendment passes, the state legislature could install new abortion restrictions or prohibit the procedure entirely.
But if voters reject the amendment, it would uphold a state Supreme Court decision in 2019 that ruled bodily autonomy in Kansas included a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.
– Phillip M. Bailey
Ohio is in the unusual position on Tuesday of hosting its second primary of 2022 after a prolonged fight over its congressional and state legislative maps.
After nominating statewide candidates and voting in primaries for Congress in May, Ohio voters today are casting ballots in primary races for the state legislature and party committees. Ohio has 33 members in its state Senate and 99 in the House.
Among the candidates on the ballot in Ohio on Tuesday is Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage. Obergefell is running unopposed in a Democratic primary for a seat in the Ohio House, according to the Associated Press.
Tina Barton was shocked the first time she received a death threat over the phone a few days after the 2020 election.
As the city clerk in Rochester Hills, Michigan, Barton was responsible for ensuring the election there ran smoothly and securely, a job she thought she did well. But that didn’t stop conspiracy theorists — emboldened by former President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud — from calling Barton and making death threats for what they falsely believed was her role in rigging the election.
Since Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, election clerks in Michigan have faced an onslaught of Freedom of Information Act requests, the influx of new election workers possibly armed with political agendas, and an increased need to more security funding.
Taken together, the election officials say, the lingering effects of the 2020 election make running elections this year harder than ever.
— Andrew Marquardt and Isabel Miller, Medill News Service
Michigan GOP candidate deflects question on ‘stolen election’
LANSING, Mich. — Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon would not say during a national TV appearance Sunday whether she thought the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
It was a shift from the position she took during a candidate debate in May.
In what could be a sign of an early pivot to a general election campaign, Dixon, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” instead shifted the conversation to what she described as legitimate concerns about the way the election was conducted and her support for strict voter ID requirements and other proposed changes to state election law.
The apparent pivot in Dixon’s position away from the “big lie” promoted by former President Donald Trump came less than 48 hours after Trump endorsed Dixon, on Friday night, in Tuesday’s five-candidate GOP primary.
— Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press
GOP rollercoaster to face Whitmer
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is one of the top targets for Republicans in 2022, but it’s been a bumpy ride for the state GOP during their primary season.
Six Republicans are lined up to challenge Whitmer, including businessman Kevin Rinke, who has poured millions of his own money into the race.
But along the way the Republican primary has been filled with controversy.
Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, once thought of as the GOP frontrunner, was removed from the ballot for forging signatures on his nominating petition. He is now on the ballot as a write-in candidate.
Last month Republican Ryan Kelley was arrested by the FBI on charges connected to the Jan. 6 riot. He has pled not guilty, and will be on the ballot Tuesday.
— Phillip M. Bailey
Election deniers for secretary of state
In two important states — Michigan and Arizona — there are candidates who’ve cast doubt about the last presidential race running to be in charge of overseeing the next.
Mark Finchem is an Arizona legislator who has long promoted Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election. He is considered a favorite in the Republican primary for secretary of state.
In Michigan, Democratic incumbent Jocelyn Benson was thrust into the national spotlight after receiving death threats for resisting attempts to subvert the election.
But she could face Republican Kristina Karamo, a Trump-backed contender who has cast doubt on the 2020 election results.
Finchem and Karamo are part of a Trump-backed coalition of secretaries of state candidates running in key swing states who have spread the former president’s election lies.
In Nevada, for instance, Jim Marchant, who said the 2020 election was “stolen” from Trump, easily won a seven-way Republican primary for secretary of state.
— Phillip M. Bailey
Sen. Roy Blunt is retiring after 12 years in the Senate, and a crowded field is vying for his seat.
Nearly two dozen Republicans have entered the race, though former Gov. Eric Greitens, Attorney General Eric Schmitt and U.S. Reps. Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long garner the most name recognition. Eleven Democrats are hoping to flip the seat blue, the including frontrunners veteran Lucas Kunce, beer heiress Trudy Busch Valentine and entrepeneur Spencer Toder.
Another eight Republicans and three Democrats are running for U.S. Rep. Billy Long’s seat in Missouri’s 7th district.
— Ella Lee; Galen Bacharier, Springfield News-Leader
Trump sits out Missouri Senate primary
Withhold your takes about the effect of former President Donald Trump’s primary endorsement – closely watched in some of the most bitter GOP contests so far this cycle – on the Missouri Senate race. Trump isn’t getting involved.
On Monday, Trump said he was endorsing “Eric” in the race, but he didn’t specify which of the two Erics running for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate he preferred.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt and former Gov. Eric Greitens both are on the ballot. Both thanked Trump for his support.
Trump said in a prepared statement that he trusted Missouri voters “to make up their own minds.”
– Rick Rouan
Races to watch in Washington
In Washington state, former President Donald Trump’s control over GOP voters faces two litmus tests as Republican Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse — two of the ten Republican House members to vote in favor of the former president’s impeachment — face a combined nine primary challengers.
Beutler has three challengers and Newhouse has six, many of whom are pro-Trump Republicans who have questioned the 2020 election results’ validity and criticized the Congress members’ impeachment votes, according to Axios.
— Ella Lee
Kansas state law says that the polls there must be open until at least 8 p.m. ET, though polling locations may remain open until 9 p.m. ET.
— Ella Lee