Primaries: Michigan, Arizona contests offer another test of GOP’s appetite for election naysayers
Trump’s defeat two years ago in these battleground states sowed the fury of the right and turned the Republican primaries into referendums on his election lies. Allies of the former president are seeking offices crucial to the balance of power in Washington and in state governments, where the GOP hopes to gain control of the electoral machinery ahead of the 2024 presidential contest.
A trio of House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in the wake of the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, are also facing first-time voters. Michigan Rep. Peter Major and Washington Reps. Dan Newhouse and Jaime Herrera Beutler — three of just 10 Republicans who backed Trump’s second impeachment — each face challengers from within their own party.
The results of Senate primaries in Arizona, where Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly awaits a GOP challenger, and Missouri, an increasingly conservative state that Trump won by double digits in 2020, will clear the way for efforts by Democrats to maintain their narrow majority. .
In both states, crowded Republican fields are dominated by election denialists. Late Monday, Trump issued an endorsement in the high-stakes Missouri race to just “Eric,” without specifying whether he meant state Attorney General Eric Schmidt or former Gov. Eric Greitens, who resigned in 2018 amid a sex scandal and charges of campaign misconduct. and who recently faced allegations of abuse by his ex-wife. Greitens has denied all of these allegations, but is seen by some Republican leaders as an unreasonably dangerous candidate for the general election.
Trump said earlier this month he would not endorse Rep. Vicki Hartzler, who is backed by the state’s junior senator, Josh Hawley. One of two members of Congress seeking the nomination, she has been critical of Trump since Jan. 6, but still voted against certifying the presidential ballot and is touting her electoral record with Trump in the running.
The long Republican vote in Arizona will provide a series of tests for Trump allies. Republicans will pick a candidate to take on Kelly, the embattled Democratic Senate incumbent. Blake Masters, an associate of Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, is Trump’s pick in this race. He’s facing off against businessman Jim Lamon, who cashed in on a partisan “audit” of the 2020 results in Maricopa County, and state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who recently returned a report debunking a popular right-wing myth about the “dead voters,” but has mixed his defenses of the state’s electoral integrity with indulgences of conspiracy-mongering activists.
A proxy war in Arizona between Trump and Pence
The race to succeed Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has split the party, with Ducey and former Vice President Mike Pence endorsing Karrin Taylor Robson and Trump endorsing former television reporter Kari Lake, whose campaign it has been fueled by the former president’s lies. .
Down the ballot in Arizona, the front-runner for the GOP nomination for secretary of state — and a chance to hold the state’s next runoff election — is Trump-backed state Rep. Mark Finchem, who is declining the election, who attended the January 6, 2021, rally in Washington. Arizona’s Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is running for governor and is favored in her primary against Marco Lopez.
Michigan, another state that flipped from red to blue in the 2020 presidential race, will also be a hotspot Tuesday night as Republicans choose a challenger to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is seeking a second term. Whitmer is a key piece of the Democratic stronghold against Republican incumbency in Michigan, where the GOP controls both state legislatures. The Republicans’ long campaign to defeat her was complicated by a signature-gathering fiasco that shut out a handful of hopefuls.
Tudor Dixon, who was boosted last week by Trump’s endorsement, also has the support of former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Businessman Kevin Rinke has emerged as Dixon’s leading rival.
Intra-party races for the Parliament
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 for national infighting in both parties. Meijer, who was first elected in 2020, is facing a primary challenge from John Gibbs, an ardent election denier who is running with Trump’s support.
Gibbs, however, was also the beneficiary of the Democratic meddling. The party’s House campaign arm, believing Gibbs to be a less viable candidate for the general election, has spent more than $300,000 on ads ostensibly attacking his alliance with Trump in an effort to boost him in the primaries. But that strategy has angered some on the left who believe it undermines their broader messages against political extremism in the GOP, while fueling fears that the bet could backfire if Gibbs is actually elected and reaches Congress.
Meanwhile, Democrats in the newly drawn 11th Congressional District will have to choose between Reps. Andy Levin and Haley Stevens, who both ran for the newly created seat with competing claims for the territory and its voters.
The campaign has emerged as the latest chapter in a proxy battle between moderates and progressives, with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) backing Stevens and a new super PAC, the United Democracy Project, spending more than $4 million to boost her offer. The UDP’s spending, along with lobbying by AIPAC, prompted another pro-Israel group, the liberal J Street, to jump on Levin’s behalf, spending $700,000 on an ad in July.