Primary election: Wisconsin GOP governor’s primary tests Trump’s influence amid FBI research news

Wisconsin, where Republicans are selecting their nominee to face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in a crucial election in November, is hosting the headlines, but three other states – Minnesota, Vermont and Connecticut – also have top races. down the polls that are poised to provide a clearer picture of an increasingly high-stakes midterm election season.

Wisconsin is the third state in which Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence have backed opposing GOP gubernatorial candidates. Pence backed former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, who initially appeared to be the party favorite in the primary. But Kleefisch, who served two terms as second-in-command to former Gov. Scott Walker, has been locked in a close race with Tim Michels, a construction company owner who was endorsed by Trump and went over away by embracing his 2020 election lies — mostly by engaging in efforts to decertify President Joe Biden’s victory in the state. Kleefisch was more circumspect, unleashing Trump’s attacks.

Trump and Pence each have mixed records: Trump’s pick in Arizona, Kari Lake, a conservative commentator and election denier, narrowly won the nomination, while Pence’s pick in Georgia, incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp, won. defeated Trump-backed main challenger David Perdue, a former senator, in a landslide.

The rubber match between the former running mates will settle the Republican Party’s slate of gubernatorial candidates in states that went from Trump in 2016 to Biden four years later – Wisconsin, Arizona, Michigan, Georgia and Pennsylvania. All five are expected to be fiercely contested again in 2024, and GOP victories on those political battlegrounds this fall could help ease Trump’s return to the White House should he run again.

Wisconsin is also home to a critical GOP primary in the state legislature, where longtime Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, an arch-conservative who mostly followed Trump’s 2020 campaign demands, is challenged by Adam Steen, who won Trump’s endorsement because Vos, in the former president’s view, was not optimistic enough about right-wing efforts to get the state to decertify its defeat.

Democrats, meanwhile, were thoroughly enjoying the disappointing end to what many expected to be a hotly contested Senate primary. Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes will win the Democratic nomination, CNN projects, after his main rivals all pulled out in the space of days. Those departures effectively earned him the nomination and a November showdown with Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, one of Trump’s key defenders in Washington and a prime target for Democrats hoping to preserve or potentially expand their Senate majority.

Also on Tuesday in the Upper Midwest, Republicans in Minnesota will choose their candidate to face Democratic Gov. Tim Walz, who is seeking a second term.

Scott Jensen, a physician and former state legislator, nearly clinched the nomination after winning state party support. He faces Joyce Lynne Lacey and Bob “Again” Carney Jr., both heavy underdogs, in the primary. Jensen has been a longtime critic of Walz, mostly railing against statewide lockdowns at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. But he also suggested hospitals were inflating their sickness numbers and questioning the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, which Jensen said he had not received.

The race between Walz and Jensen could also help determine the fate of abortion rights in Minnesota. Jensen told Minnesota Public Radio in March that he would “try to outlaw abortion” if elected, a remark Walz and other Democrats have already seized on. Jensen, late last month, backed off from his more aggressive language in his remarks, saying he supported exceptions to allow abortion in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger. . But Democrats, emboldened by Kansas’ vote last week to preserve abortion rights in a statewide referendum, are expected to make the issue a central part of their fall campaign.
Voters in the current version of southern Minnesota’s 1st congressional district will choose a replacement to fill the seat of the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn, a Republican who died earlier this year. The special election in the GOP-friendly district includes Republican Brad Finstad and Democrat Jeffrey Ettinger. The winner will almost immediately travel to Capitol Hill to serve out Hagedorn’s term.
But both candidates are also on the regular primary ballot as they vie for nominations from their respective parties in a new version of the district, which has been redesigned ahead of the midterms. Ettinger, the former chief executive of Hormel Foods, is expected to win easily on the Democratic side, but Finstad, a former state lawmaker and USDA official in the Trump administration, faces a tougher challenge in Rep. of the state’s Jeremy Munson as they replay their May primary, which was decided by just a few hundred votes.

History in the making in Vermont

Vermont Democrats will nominate CNN Projects Rep. Peter Welch to fill the seat of incumbent Sen. Patrick Leahy, who will step down next year after nearly 50 years on the job. Welch’s decision to run for the Senate created a rare open Democratic primary for the state’s only House seat, sparking a contest that will almost certainly end in a historic election.

State Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Becca Balint will win the nomination, CNN projects, beating Lt. Gov. Molly Gray for the nomination to replace Welch in the House. An overwhelming favorite in the fall, Balint is set to become the first woman elected to Congress from Vermont, which is the only state that has never sent a woman to represent it at the federal level.

Vermont Democrats face historic decision in open-seat primary

Little separated Balint and Gray on major issues, but their candidacies split the loyalties of the Vermont Sens. Bernie Sanders and Leahy. Sanders and leading progressives across the country endorsed Balint. Gray had the support of Leahy, who donated to her cause and said he voted for her, although he did not issue a formal endorsement in the race. Past Governors of Vermont. Howard Dean and Madeleine Kunin also supported Gray.

But in a race that has seen the candidates themselves roughly fundraising, a flood of outside spending for Balint likely helped tip the scales. The LGBTQ Victory Fund has invested around $1 million in the race for Balint, who is gay. It also benefited from spending by the campaign arm of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, whose chairwoman, Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, as well as progressive senators from neighboring Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, endorsed it.

In Connecticut, there is little danger for Democratic Governor Ned Lamont or Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal. Both were unopposed in their primaries.

On the GOP side, former state legislator Themis Klarides is the favorite to win the nomination to face Blumenthal in November. Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski was, like Lamont, alone on the ballot on Tuesday – setting the stage for a rematch of their 2018 run.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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