Few primary days will be as consequential as the Aug. 2 elections this year.
That’s because Tuesday includes two critical swing states — Arizona and Michigan — in the next presidential race, which have also been ground zero for former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election.
- Arizona is one of a handful of Senate races considered a “toss-up” this fall, with Republicans needing to flip just one seat to seize the majority next year. Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly will be a formidable incumbent, having already raised $52.5 million as his would-be GOP opponents are engaged in a bitter primary fight.
- In Michigan, likewise, the governor’s race is also one of the more closely watched contests where Republicans are itching to boot Democratic incumbent Gretchen Whitmer, who was a champion of many COVID-19 restrictions, out of office.
- Voters will have some critical contests and choices to make, including the Missouri primaries for Senate to replacing retiring Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, and the first test of a statewide abortion referendum in Kansas.
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
Races to watch in Missouri
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