Primary election: Michigan and Arizona contests offer another test of GOP appetite for Holocaust deniers

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Trump’s pick will win the GOP governorship in Michigan, CNN projects.

Trump’s defeat two years ago in those battleground states sowed anger on the right and turned Republican primary campaigns up and down the ballot into referendums over his election lies. The former president’s allies seek positions crucial to the balance of power in Washington and in state governments, where the GOP hopes to gain control of the electoral apparatus ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

A trio of House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump following the January 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol riot are also facing voters for the first time. Michigan Representative Peter Meijer and Washington Representatives Dan Newhouse and Jaime Herrera Beutler — three of 10 Republicans to back Trump’s second impeachment — each face challengers from their own party.

Tuesday also provided voters with their first chance to respond directly to the U.S. Supreme Court’s strikedown of federal abortion rights earlier this summer — an issue that National Democrats hope will energize their base at the polls. ‘fall. Kansas voters have decided to keep abortion rights in their state constitution by voting “no” to a proposed constitutional amendment, CNN projects. The procedure is currently legal for up to 22 weeks in Kansas, where people from Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri have traveled for services as part of Republican-led efforts to roll back abortion rights.
In the Michigan governor’s primary, Trump-backed Tudor Dixon also had the backing of former education secretary Betsy DeVos and benefited from the disqualification of five potential candidates after thousands of forged signatures were were found on nomination petitions. A conservative commentator who had won support from prominent Republicans in the state, Dixon pushed back against criticism that she was an establishment candidate who wasn’t “MAGA” enough.

Dixon will face Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who is seeking a second term. Whitmer is a key part of the Democratic bulwark against Republican power in Michigan, where the GOP controls both legislative houses.

Senate primaries set for crucial fall showdowns

Senate primary results in Arizona, where Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly awaits a GOP challenger, and in Missouri, an increasingly conservative state that Trump won by double digits in 2020, will clear the way forward for the efforts by the Democrats to maintain their narrow majority. In both states, crowded Republican fields had been dominated by election deniers.

In Missouri, State Attorney General Eric Schmitt will win the GOP Senate nomination, CNN projects. His victory is a relief to National Party leaders anxious for former Governor Eric Greitens to win and then lose November’s general election. Greitens had quit in 2018 amid a sex scandal and accusations of campaign misconduct and more recently faced allegations of abuse at the hands of his ex-wife, which he denied .

Schmitt and Greitens shared an 11th-hour endorsement of Trump, who said Monday he backed ‘Eric’ and left it up to voters to decide which one, though both candidates immediately tried to claim the endorsement for themselves. themselves.

Echoing a promise from Greitens, Schmitt – which was approved by the senses. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah – said last week he would not support Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for leadership.

While Trump hedged his bets, junior state senator Josh Hawley suffered a loss after backing Rep. Vicky Hartzler. One of two members of Congress seeking nomination, she criticized Trump in the aftermath of Jan. 6 but still voted against presidential vote certification and touted her voting record with Trump on the trail.

Arizona’s long Republican primary slate will provide a series of tests for Trump allies. Republicans will choose a candidate to face Kelly, the incumbent Democratic Senate. Blake Masters, a sidekick to Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, is Trump’s choice in this race. He takes on businessman Jim Lamon, who piled cash in a partisan ‘audit’ of 2020 results in Maricopa County and state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who recently handed down a report debunking a popular right-wing myth around “dead voters” but mixed its defenses of state election integrity with indulgences from conspiratorial activists.

A proxy war in Arizona between Trump and Pence

The race to succeed Republican Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has split the party, with Ducey and former Vice President Mike Pence endorsing Karrin Taylor Robson and Trump backing former TV reporter Kari Lake, whose campaign was fueled by the former president’s election lies. .

These are the deniers on Tuesday's primary ballot

In the Arizona poll, the frontrunner for the GOP nomination for Secretary of State — and the chance to lead the state’s next round of elections — is Trump-backed state Rep. Mark Finchem , who attended the January 6, 2021, rally in Washington. Arizona Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is running for governor and favored in her primary against Marco Lopez.

Intra-party fights for the House

But the most anticipated race of the night, at least in Michigan, is for the GOP nomination in a Western House district that has become a flashpoint in both parties’ national infighting. Meijer, who was first elected in 2020, faces a primary challenge from John Gibbs, a staunch Holocaust denier who is running with Trump’s backing.

Gibbs, however, was also the beneficiary of Democratic interference. The party’s House campaign arm, believing Gibbs to be a less viable general election contender, ran more than $300,000 in ads ostensibly attacking his alliance with Trump in a bid to propel him into the primary. But the strategy has angered some on the left who believe it undermines their broader message against political extremism in the GOP, while raising fears the gamble could backfire if Gibbs is indeed elected and surrenders. in Congress.

These are Tuesday's key home races

Meanwhile, in Michigan’s 11th congressional district, Rep. Haley Stevens will defeat fellow Democratic Rep. Andy Levin, CNN Projects, in an incumbent clash that was the latest chapter in a proxy fight between moderates and progressives.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) had backed Stevens, and his new super PAC, United Democracy Project, has spent more than $4 million bolstering his bid. The UDP’s spending, along with the AIPAC rally, prompted another pro-Israel group, the liberal J Street, to intervene on Levin’s behalf, dumping $700,000 in a July ad buy for him.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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