2022 election results: Trump and Pence’s picks locked in tight battle for Wisconsin gubernatorial nomination

Wisconsin’s gubernatorial primary was the main election in four states on Tuesday. But another blockbuster emerged in Minnesota, where Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar squealed through a close primary in her Minneapolis-based district.

Connecticut and Vermont also held primaries on Tuesday, while Minnesota held a red-leaning special House election in addition to its primary.

The special election will be the last test of the political environment in the post-Roe vs. Wade era, as Vermont Democrats prepare to send a woman to Congress for the first time in state history. On Tuesday, another big Democratic primary turned into a formality when Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes’ rivals dropped out of the Senate race and endorsed him to face GOP Sen. Ron Johnson in the fall.

Here’s the latest from Tuesday.

Trump tries to remake Wisconsin in his image

The race between Kleefisch and Michels had been contentious, with the two candidates vying for the right to face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in a key race in November.

Kleefisch was considered an early GOP frontrunner until Michels’ late entry into the race. Michels’ self-funding, combined with the support of the former president, made the race competitive.

Trump’s intervention mirrored other previous Republican gubernatorial primaries, in which the former president sought to subvert GOP power structures in the state, such as when he unsuccessfully campaigned against the governor. Brian Kemp in Georgia. In Arizona last week, Trump’s pick for governor, former TV presenter Kari Lake, beaten Karrin Taylor Robson, who had the backing of incumbent GOP Governor Doug Ducey — the co-chair of the Republican Governors Association — and Pence. (Ducey ultimately approved of Lake.)

Trump has also targeted Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, backing a primary challenger running against one of the nation’s most influential state legislative leaders. Trump has been angered by Vos’s refusal to push to “decertify” the 2020 election results — a legally impossible notion that has nonetheless gained ground on the right — even as Vos led the state legislature by funding a state election survey. Vos scored a narrow victory on Tuesday night.

Trump also took on the local GOP in the Connecticut Senate race — and won. There, the state party backed former state House minority leader Themis Klarides, a moderate who said she did not vote for Trump in 2020, while Trump stepped in with a late endorsement for victorious RNC committee member Leora Levy.

Omar fends off a main challenger

Omar, who as a member of “The Squad” is one of the House’s best-known members, won a surprisingly close primary in his district against Don Samuels, a former Minneapolis City Councilman.

Samuels raised over $1 million for his bid and edged out the incumbent this year. She could beat support a well-funded main challenger by 20 points in 2020. Pro-Israel outside groups tried to boost its challenger in the last round, but largely missed this run.

Omar is the big favorite in this deep blue neighborhood in November.

Minnesota fills a vacant House seat

Minnesota voters in a red-leaning district are deciding who will fill the final months of the late GOP Rep. Jim Hagedorn’s term, in a test of the political environment following the Supreme Court ruling Dobbs decision on abortion in June.

Former Republican state Rep. Brad Finstad is preferred over the Democratic nominee, former Hormel Foods CEO Jeff Ettinger, in a Trump district up 9 points in 2020.

But the final margins in the race could be a harbinger of how voter reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision translates to the candidates. Last week, Kansas voters overwhelmingly rejected a state constitutional amendment that would have paved the way for new restrictions on abortion. But the question remains open to what extent voters will consider abortion when making their choice for elective positions.

Minnesota election officials have warned that the final results of the special election will be delayed, due to the complications of running the special election under the old district lines while running the primary under the new redistributed lines for next term in Congress.

Elsewhere in Minnesota, voters finalized a matchup between Democratic Governor Tim Walz and former Republican state senator Scott Jensen, who faced only nominal opposition in his primary in a state that , according to Republicans, could be a dormant battleground race.

The GOP also elevated Kim Crockett, an activist who questioned the 2020 election results, to face Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon.

Vermont prepares to send its first wife to Washington

Vermont is the only state yet to send a woman to Congress, but voters took a big step for change on Tuesday. The leading contenders for the Democratic nomination for the state seat to replace Rep. Peter Welch — who locked up the Senate Democratic sign on Tuesday — were both women, and state Senate Speaker Becca Balint ended up winning the primary. It will be strongly favored in November.

Voters choose candidates in a handful of key House districts

Some of November House’s biggest battlegrounds have relatively sleepy primaries on Tuesday. In Minnesota, Democratic Rep. Angie Craig and Republican Tyler Kistner are both gearing up for a general election rematch, after Craig narrowly beat Kistner in 2020. And two seats for Connecticut Republicans – to challenge the Democratic Representatives Jahana Hayes and Joe Courtney – also had a drama-free, unopposed primaries on Tuesday.

One contest to watch is the Democratic primary to replace incumbent Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.). Three Democrats — Deb McGrath, Brad Pfaff and Rebecca Cooke — are vying for the nomination to face Republican Derrick Van Orden, whom Kind beat by about 3 points in 2020, in a district the GOP considers one of its best year pickup opportunities. Pfaff was leading early Wednesday morning.

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