What to watch in the primaries in Arizona, Michigan, elsewhere
In Missouri, outraged former governor Eric Greitens is attempting a political comeback. In Michigan, a crowded field of Republican gubernatorial candidates includes a man charged in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In Arizona, a prominent figure in the QAnon conspiratorial movement shows up at the US House.
These are among the most notable contests in Tuesday’s primary elections taking place in six states.
Arizona, which Democrat Joe Biden narrowly won in 2020, is a prime target for former President Donald Trump, who unsuccessfully tried to overturn his loss. He endorsed a top-to-bottom ballot slate of candidates who promoted his bogus claims of stolen election.
Trump has also been targeted over the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him during the Jan. 6 uprising. Three of them are on the ballot Tuesday in Washington and Michigan state, as are two “team” members, Democratic Representatives Cori Bush of Missouri and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
Meanwhile, Kansas voters could pave the way for the Republican-controlled legislature to further restrict or ban abortion if they approve a constitutional change proposed by the state. It’s the first referendum vote on abortion policy by a state since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in June.
Ohio is also holding a primary for state legislative races on Tuesday, three months after its statewide and congressional contests — a split system stemming from legal wrangling over redistricting.
What to watch:
The Trump-endorsed candidates in Arizona all have one thing in common: They have been loudly spouting misinformation about the legitimacy of the 2020 election, despite election officials and Trump’s own attorney general saying he there was no credible evidence that the race was tainted.
In the race for governor, Trump has backed former TV news anchor Kari Lake, who said she would not have certified Arizona’s 2020 election results. Lake is facing the businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robson, who is endorsed by former Vice President Mike Pence and the outgoing Governor. Doug Ducey.
Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a strong advocate for the 2020 election, is heavily favored to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
In the U.S. Senate Republican primary, Trump backed tech investor Blake Masters as the candidate to take on incumbent Democratic Mark Kelly in the fall. Masters, whose campaign was funded by billionaire Peter Thiel, has called for reducing legal immigration and espoused the baseless “great replacement” conspiracy theory, saying Democrats are trying to “replace Americans who were born here”.
Attorney General Mark Brnovich, another Senate candidate, has been weighed down by lackluster fundraising and fierce criticism from Trump, who says Brnovich has done little to advance his voter fraud allegations. Another leading candidate, Jim Lamon, the founder of a solar energy company, touted his background as a military veteran and entrepreneur.
The Republican primary for secretary of state includes Trump-backed lawmaker Mark Finchem, a state representative who worked to reverse Trump’s 2020 loss; State Representative Shawnna Bolick, who introduced a bill to allow lawmakers to ignore election results and choose their own presidential voters; and State Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita, who has long pushed for revisions to election laws. The GOP establishment has rallied behind ad executive Beau Lane in the race.
Ron Watkins, who has ties to the QAnon conspiracy theory, is seen as a long shot in his home run. Watkins, a Republican, was the longtime administrator of the online chat rooms that became the home of the anonymous “Q.” The conspiracy theory centers on the unsubstantiated belief that Trump ran a covert campaign against enemies in the “deep state” and that a group of satanic, cannibalistic child molesters covertly rule the world.
In the state Legislature, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who testified at a Jan. 6 hearing about Trump’s push to void the 2020 election, faces a candidate backed by Trump in his bid to run for the state senate.
The Republican primary for governor was wild from the start, with five candidates kicked out of the ballot for not filing enough valid nomination signatures.
Several of the remaining candidates have baggage that could hurt in a general election against Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Real estate broker Ryan Kelley has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges after authorities said he rallied Trump supporters to storm the US Capitol. Businessman Kevin Rinke was sued in the 1990s for sexual harassment and racial discrimination – allegations he says are lies. Chiropractor Garrett Soldano sold supplements he falsely claimed to treat COVID-19. The Trump-endorsed businesswoman Tudor Dixon has previously starred in low-budget horror films, one of which included a zombie biting a man’s genitals.
All of the candidates falsely say there was fraud in the 2020 election, with Dixon, Kelley and Soldano claiming the election was stolen from Trump.
Republican Representative Peter Meijer hopes to retain his seat after voting to impeach Trump. The former president backed businessman and missionary John Gibbs, who worked in the Trump administration under Housing Secretary Ben Carson.
Greitens’ political career ended when he resigned as governor in 2018, following his admission to an extramarital affair and accusations of blackmail and campaign finance violations. On Tuesday, the former Navy SEAL officer has a chance to redeem himself in his Republican primary for the seat held by retired GOP U.S. Senator Roy Blunt.
Greitens, Attorney General Eric Schmitt and U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler are favorites in a 21-person GOP group that includes U.S. Rep. Billy Long and Mark McCloskey, the St. Louis attorney who, along with his wife, pointed to racial guns from the injustice protesters who ventured down their private street.
Trump did not make an endorsement in the race, although he ruled out Hartzler.
The GOP winner in Missouri, a solidly Republican state, will be favored in November. But Republican leaders have long feared that Greitens — his ex-wife has also accused him of abuse, allegations Greitens called “baseless” — could win the primary but lose the general election.
On the Democratic side, the nomination appears to be up for grabs between Lucas Kunce, a Marine veteran and self-proclaimed populist, and Trudy Busch Valentine, an heiress to the Busch beer fortune who largely self-funded her campaign.
Two members of the Washington State Republican House who voted to impeach Trump face leading opponents endorsed by him.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who has served in Congress since 2011, said she voted for impeachment because she had “an obligation to the Constitution.” the former president’s grievances over the 2020 election result.
Rep. Dan Newhouse, a congressman since 2015, said he voted to impeach Trump for inciting and refusing to immediately end the Jan. 6 insurgency. Among his challengers is Loren Culp, a Trump-backed former small-town police chief who refused to concede the 2020 gubernatorial race to Democrat Jay Inslee.
In Washington, the top two voters in each race, regardless of party, advance to November.
Voters will decide whether to approve a change to the state constitution that could allow the Legislature to restrict or ban abortion despite a 2019 state Supreme Court ruling that the access to abortion is a fundamental right. This is the first state abortion referendum since the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
In the statewide races, Republican Kris Kobach is running for attorney general as he attempts a political comeback after losses in the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races in previous years. Kobach, the state’s former secretary of state, served as deputy chairman of a short-lived Trump commission on voter fraud after the 2016 election.
Associated Press writers Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix; Sara Burnett in Chicago; Jim Salter in O’Fallon, Missouri; Chris Grygiel in Seattle; and John Hanna in Topeka, Kansas; contributed to this report.
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP
Follow AP for full midterm election coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter, https://twitter.com/ap_politics