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Rep. Lauren Boebert
Rep. Lauren Boebert speaks at a press conference for House Republicans in Washington, D.C. on April 5.Michael Brochstein / Sipa USA via AP file

What to watch as eight states hold June 28 contests

Voters in Colorado, Illinois, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Utah will be deciding races up and down the ballot tomorrow.


As the summer gets underway in earnest, there are really only a couple of Super Tuesday-style primaries days remaining, featuring lots of states holding statewide contests, and one of them is tomorrow. Let’s take a look at them in alphabetical order.

In Colorado, there’s a highly competitive Republican U.S. Senate primary, and much of the GOP has rallied behind businessman Joe O’Dea. Colorado Democrats, meanwhile, have run ads touting state Rep. Ron Hanks’ far-right credentials, hoping to give him a boost because they see him as unelectable in a general election. (This is a tactic I call “pulling a McCaskill.”)

There’s also a GOP gubernatorial primary tomorrow, with former Mayor Greg Lopez running against Heidi Ganahl, who, as a University of Colorado regent, is the only Republican currently elected to statewide office in the Rocky Mountain State.

Rep. Lauren Boebert, meanwhile, has quickly become one of Congress’ most notorious right-wing members, and she’ll face a primary tomorrow from a more moderate state senator named Don Coram.

Also of interest is Colorado’s secretary of state race, where conspiracy theorist Tina Peters is competing in a GOP primary against Pam Anderson, a former head of the state’s clerks association. The winner will take on Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold in the fall.

In Illinois, arguably the marquee race tomorrow is the state’s Republican gubernatorial primary, where state party officials and donors have lined up behind Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, a relative GOP moderate. Democrats, again “pulling a McCaskill,” have touted state Sen. Darren Bailey — widely seen as unelectable in a fairly reliable “blue” state — and Donald Trump has played his part, endorsing Bailey and ignoring the party establishment’s wishes.

On a related note, due to post-census redistricting, there are two member-vs.-member congressional primaries tomorrow. One of the most contentious is in the 15th district, where Rep. Mary Miller — yes, that Mary Miller — is facing off against Rep. Rodney Davis. Because the latter voted for a bipartisan measure to investigate the Jan. 6 attack, Trump endorsed Miller, who introduced the former president at a rally in Illinois over the weekend.

Miller has also condemned Davis for having voted to certify the results of the 2020 election, which further helps capture what’s happening in Republican politics in 2022.

In Illinois’ 6th congressional district, meanwhile, two Democratic incumbents — Reps. Sean Casten and Marie Newman — are also facing off against one another. As NBC News noted the other day, Casten has outraised Newman, and has been endorsed by The Chicago Tribune’s editorial board and 16 House Democrats. Newman is backed by EMILY’s List, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and eight House Democrats.

In Mississippi, there are three congressional primary runoffs tomorrow — in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th districts, respectively — but pay particular attention to the 4th, where incumbent Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo was pushed into a runoff in large part because of a series of ethics controversies.

Meanwhile, in the 3rd district, GOP Rep. Michael Guest was also pushed into a runoff after facing a partisan backlash: The congressman voted for a bipartisan plan for a Jan. 6 commission, and he’s been under fire ever since. Only three House incumbents have lost in primaries so far this year, and there’s a real possibility that total will grow by two tomorrow.

In Nebraska, voters in the state’s 1st congressional district will vote tomorrow to fill the vacancy left by former Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who resigned after a felony corruption conviction. GOP state Sen. Mike Flood will face Democratic state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks tomorrow, and given the district’s partisan leanings, Flood is widely seen as the clear favorite. (The same two candidates will face off again in November.)

In New York, there are plenty of contests for campaign watchers to follow, up and down the ballot. Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul, elevated in the wake of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is facing off against intra-party rivals, though polls show her relatively well positioned to advance. There’s also a multi-candidate Republican gubernatorial primary, and recent polling suggests Rep. Lee Zeldin is the frontrunner.

Just as notable, if not more so, is the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor. Hochul tapped former Rep. Antonio Delgado for the job, which would appear to give him an inside track, but he’ll face off against two candidates who were in the race long before he was: progressive activist Ana Maria Archila and former Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Diana Reyna.

In Oklahoma, one of the year’s most crowded U.S. Senate primaries will be decided tomorrow, with several competitive candidates vying to succeed incumbent Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe, who is retiring before the end of his term. Inhofe has already backed his former chief of staff, Luke Holland, but there are nine other candidates in the field, including former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Rep. Markwayne Mullin.

Oklahoma’s other U.S. senator, Republican James Lankford, looks like a safe bet for re-election, but his primary rival is businessman Jackson Lahmeyer, who’s been backed by, among others, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, and state GOP Chairman John Bennett, each of whom have condemned Lankford’s willingness to certify the results of the 2020 election.

In the governor’s race, Gov. Kevin Stitt will face multiple Republican challengers, but his financial advantage is expected to help him advance. In the Democratic primary, Joy Hofmeister, the state’s school superintendent, switched parties in large part so she could run against Stitt in the fall.

In South Carolina, there aren’t any races generating national attention, but voters will weigh in on primary runoffs in state legislative contests, as well as the race for state superintendent of education.

And in Utah, incumbent Sen. Mike Lee is facing a couple of underfunded GOP rivals. There is no Democratic primary: The party instead formally decided to back Evan McMullin’s independent candidacy.

In the Beehive State’s four congressional districts, each of the four Republican incumbents is facing at least one primary rival. None of the incumbents is expected to lose.