Republican voters of Michigan and Arizona – two states at the center of of former President Donald Trump 2020 Holocaust denial campaign — choose their nominees in the crucial Senate and gubernatorial races on Tuesday, as the shape of the 2022 midterms becomes clearer with less than a hundred days to go until Election Day.
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 only 10 Republicans to back Trump’s second impeachment — each face challengers from their own party.
Tuesday also offers voters their first chance to respond directly to the U.S. Supreme Court’s strikedown of federal abortion rights earlier this summer — an issue National Democrats hope to energize their base in. fall. A Kansas ballot measure asks voters, regardless of political affiliation, whether they should amend the state constitution to remove a protected right to abortion. 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.
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 were dominated by election deniers. Late Monday, Trump issued an endorsement in Missouri’s high-stakes race to simply “Eric,” without specifying whether he meant state Attorney General Eric Schmitt or former Gov. Eric Greitens, who resigned in 2018 amid a sex scandal and accusations of campaign misconduct and who more recently faced allegations of abuse at the hands of his ex-wife. Greitens has denied all of those allegations, but is viewed by some Republican leaders as an unnecessarily risky potential general election candidate.
Trump said earlier this month that he would not support Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who is backed by junior state Sen. Josh Hawley. 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 touts 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 into 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.
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. .
Down the ballot in Arizona, the frontrunner for the GOP nomination for secretary of state — and the chance to lead the state’s next round of elections — is the state representative who refuses the election, backed by Trump, 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.
In Michigan, another state that went from red to blue in the 2020 presidential race, Trump’s pick will win the Republican gubernatorial nomination, CNN projects. Tudor Dixon, who was bolstered last week with Trump’s endorsement, also had the backing of former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. A conservative commentator who had won the support of prominent Republicans in the state, she fended off criticism that she was an establishment candidate who was not “MAGA” enough.
Dixon will assume 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.
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.
Meanwhile, Democrats in the newly-draw 11th Congressional District will have to choose between Representatives Andy Levin and Haley Stevens, who both opted for the newly-draw seat with competing claims to the territory and its constituents.
The campaign emerged as the latest chapter in a proxy battle between moderates and progressives, with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) backing Stevens and his new super PAC, United Democracy Project, spending more than $4 million to bolster his offer. The UDP 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.