Former President Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP is front and center on one of the biggest primary days of the midterms.
Many of the biggest contests on Tuesday are Republican primaries, with the GOP picking gubernatorial nominees in Arizona and Michigan and shaping the Senate battleground map in Missouri and Arizona. Three House Republicans who voted to impeach the former president are also facing voters for the first time since then, and a Trump supporter who has spread election conspiracy theories is pushing to be the chief administrator for future elections in Arizona.
Democrats also have key primaries, including for the battleground Arizona governor’s contest and a race outside Detroit pitting two sitting House members against each other. But one of Tuesday’s biggest votes doesn’t involve candidates.
Instead, Kansans are voting on state a constitutional amendment that would say there is no explicit right to an abortion, the first time voters have been able to weigh in on abortion policy since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision earlier this year.
Voters in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington all headed to the polls. But if contests are close — particularly in Arizona and Washington, where it can take days to tally up all the mail ballots — some winners will not be known Tuesday night.
Here is the latest.
GOP keeps close watch on Missouri
The Republican primary in Missouri to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Roy Blunt twisted to a bizarre end Monday when Trump endorsed “ERIC” — a reference to both state Attorney General Eric Schmitt and former Gov. Eric Greitens.
Trump hemmed and hawed about getting involved in a race, before ultimately trying to back both men on Monday.
Republicans in Washington — and a fair few in Missouri — are hoping that Schmitt or Rep. Vicky Hartzler wins over Greitens. The former governor left office in disgrace amid allegations of sexual assault and abuse from both his mistress and wife. Should Greitens win, Democrats are expected to try to compete for the seat. The Democratic primary features Lucas Kunce, a Marine veteran, and Trudy Busch Valentine, an heir to the Busch beer empire. There is also an independent seeking a spot on the ballot: John Wood, who has support from a well-funded super PAC backed by former GOP Sen. John Danforth.
Impeachment on the ballot
A trio of Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in the beginning of 2021 are facing voters Tuesday as well.
The most endangered may be Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.). Meijer is facing John Gibbs in the Republican primary, in a district that got significantly bluer during redistricting. Gibbs had a low-spending campaign on his own — but the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee swooped into the district in the closing weeks of the race to run TV ads “attacking” him, with the end goal of hoisting him over the finish line in the GOP primary. The Democrats are hoping Gibbs is easier to beat in November than Meijer would be.
And in Washington State, two other Republicans are facing impeachment-fueled primary challengers: Reps. Dan Newhouse and Jaime Herrera Beutler. Both have the benefit of running in open, all-party primaries, where all voters cast ballots and the top two candidates of any party advance.
Setting up major statewide battleground races
Arizona has a trio of major statewide contests on the ballot, with Trump right in the middle of each of them.
Republicans are picking their candidate to face off against Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in one of the nation’s top battleground races this fall. Blake Masters, a protege of tech titan Peter Thiel who also had Trump’s endorsement, is the frontrunner in a field that also includes Jim Lamon, a businessman who has spent millions of his own money to try to keep pace, and state Attorney General Mark Brnovich.
At the top of the ticket is the race for governor, which pits former TV anchor Kari Lake against former state board of regents Karrin Taylor Robson in the GOP primary. Trump backed Lake early, while term-limited Gov. Doug Ducey and former Vice President Mike Pence threw their support behind Robson. Lake has led most of the polls leading up to Tuesday.
Democrats also have a primary, with Secretary of State Katie Hobbs — a sitting statewide elected official — the favorite.
In the race to replace Hobbs as the state’s chief elections officer, Republicans are on the verge of nominating one of the most prominent election conspiracy theorists in the country. Mark Finchem, a state lawmaker who scored an early endorsement from Trump, is the frontrunner in a field that also includes Beau Lane, an advertising executive running out of the business wing of the party, with Ducey’s support.
Another big statewide race is in Michigan, where Republicans are landing on their nominee to face Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November. After an incredibly messy primary, Tudor Dixon appears poised to capture the GOP nod Tuesday evening.
Kansas voters make abortion decision
Voters in Kansas will be the first since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision to vote on a state ballot measure affecting abortion policy, with the “Value Them Both” constitutional amendment on the ballot on Tuesday.
Voters will either approve or reject a state constitutional amendment that would explicitly state there is no right to an abortion in Kansas, after the state Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that there was one. Approving the amendment would clear the way for state legislators to add more restrictions to abortion in the state, while a no vote would keep the state constitution as is and preserve legal abortion in Kansas.
Member-on-member clash highlights House battlegrounds
Tuesday features one incumbent-versus-incumbent race in Michigan, with Reps. Andy Levin and Haley Stevens battling it out for a deep blue district after redistricting. The race has been a proxy war between different ideological wings of the Democratic Party, and it has also been a battleground over Israel policy, with the super PAC arm of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) spending millions on the race supporting Stevens, while Levin got backup from J Street.
Outside of the Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) may be the Republican incumbent facing the most danger on Tuesday. Schweikert — who has faced ethics complaints over his campaign spending — is facing a well-funded primary from businessman Elijah Norton. The district, which narrowly tilted Democratic in the 2020 presidential election, could be competitive in the fall, too.
Three other Arizona districts could be competitive in November. The Republican primary winner in Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran’s district will be favored in the fall in a seat Trump won by 9 points in 2020, while Republicans also hope to challenge for the Democratic-held 4th and 6th Districts, too.
Other competitive districts include one in Kansas, where Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids and Republican Amanda Adkins are likely headed to a November rematch. And in Washington, Democratic Rep. Kim Schrier is watching to see who will emerge to face her in November.