Aug 2 – Republican voters on Tuesday picked several candidates supporting Donald Trump’s 2020 election falsehoods in several party primaries for November’s general election – a clear indication of how the former president controls his party.
In Kansas, abortion rights activists celebrated a major victory when voters overwhelmingly rejected a ballot initiative that would have threatened abortion access in the first statewide ballot test since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
The Kansas result suggested that anger over the June Supreme Court decision could help Democrats galvanize voters at a time when many Americans blame the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden for soaring gas and food prices.
But Tuesday, one of the biggest midterm primary nights of the year, underscored Trump’s continued dominance among Republicans and broad support for his false claim that the 2020 election was rigged. It was also a warning to any potential Republican challengers should he seek the White House again in 2024.
In a key battleground state in Arizona, state Rep. Mark Finchem won the Republican nomination for secretary of state, a position that would give him massive sway throughout the election should he defeat his Democratic challenger in November.
Finchem was present at Trump’s January 6, 2021 speech in Washington, which preceded the attack by Trump supporters on the US Capitol, and continued to claim that the former president had won the 2020 election.
In Michigan, Tudor Dixon, a conservative commentator who echoed Trump’s campaign claims, won the Republican nomination for governor and will face Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this November in one of the most closely watched races that will also revolve around abortion rights.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, backed by Trump, secured the Republican nomination for governor. In November, she will face Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly in what is expected to be a highly competitive race.
Blake Masters, a former tech executive who backed Trump’s false fraud claims, has secured the Republican nomination in the Senate race, the Associated Press reported and will face Sen. Mark Kelly, considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents. Masters has Trump’s endorsement and that of tech billionaire Peter Thiel.
One of only 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump after the attack on the US Capitol, US Representative Peter Meijer of Michigan lost to far-right challenger John Gibbs.
Endorsed by Trump, Gibbs benefited from Democratic advertising during the Republican primaries, part of a risky and highly controversial strategy to try to boost more vulnerable Republican candidates in swing districts, even as party leaders warn they pose a danger to democracy.
Another Republican who voted to impeach Trump, Jamie Herrera Beutler of Washington, faced a Trump-backed primary challenger. The results of that race were not expected to be known until later on Wednesday or Thursday.
Political analysts saw the rejection of the abortion restriction initiative as having wider implications for the upcoming general election.
With 95% of the estimated votes counted, just under 60% of Kansas voters cast ballots in support of abortion protections in the state constitution. Unlike the Republican gubernatorial primary, Kansas’ abortion initiative reflected the choices of voters of both major political parties and independents.
“When a total ban looks like an option, then you’re going to make a lot of people choose and you’re going to lose a lot of the more moderate abortion restrictionists,” said Neal Allen, a political scientist. professor at Wichita State University.
With Biden’s unpopularity weighing on Democrats heading into the November election, party leaders were likely buoyed by the Kansas result. Democratic candidates are increasingly coalescing around the abortion issue in some swing districts to fend off challenges from Republicans who are favored to win control of the House and possibly the Senate.
Control of either chamber would give Republicans the power to thwart Biden’s legislative agenda while opening politically damaging hearings.
While publicly flirting with the possibility of running for president again, Trump has endorsed more than 200 candidates. Most of them are safe bets — Republican incumbents in conservative districts — but even in competitive races, many of his candidates have won.
“Trump remains popular with Republican primary voters. I don’t think you can underestimate how he’s remade the party in his image,” said Republican strategist Alex Conant. “Republicans who run against Trump tend to get trampled.”
On Tuesday, Arizona voters were choosing between Trump-backed gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Karrin Taylor Robson, who has the support of Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence.
Lake, a former news anchor, repeats Trump’s election falsehoods and said she would not endorse Biden for a statewide victory in 2020. At a recent campaign stop, Lake claimed without evidence that early voting had already been rigged, suggesting she may not accept defeat on Tuesday.
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who built a national profile by vocally denying Trump’s allegations, easily won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, an Edison Research project.
In Missouri, Attorney General Eric Schmitt won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, boosting his party’s chances of retaining the seat after scandal-hit former Gov. Eric Greitens finished by a wide margin.