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What to watch as five states hold August 2 primaries

It's arguably the last Super Tuesday-like day of 2022 with highly consequential races in five states.


It’s been several weeks since election watchers had a day filled with dramatic primaries worth following, but Tuesday definitely counts. In fact, with the 2022 midterms now just 99 days away, there are still plenty of states that will hold notable contests in the coming weeks, but this week holds arguably the last Super Tuesday-like day with highly consequential races in five states.

In Arizona, some of the nation’s fiercest fights are in the GOP’s statewide primaries, starting with the gubernatorial race, where Donald Trump and much of the right have rallied behind former local anchor Kari Lake. She’s facing Karrin Taylor Robson, who’s backed by former Vice President Mike Pence and outgoing Gov. Doug Ducey. Neither Republican contender has been willing to acknowledge the legitimacy of the 2020 election, and both candidates have accused the other of being insufficiently loyal to the far-right cause.

Similarly, in Arizona’s Republican U.S. Senate primary, polls suggest the favorite is Trump-backed Blake Masters, a first-time candidate whose professional life has been defined by his work for tech billionaire Peter Thiel, who’s invested heavily in Masters’ candidacy. His top rival appears to be businessman Jim Lamon, followed by state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who fell out of favor with the right after failing to find evidence of non-existent voter fraud in the state’s 2020 elections.

Arizona’s open secretary of state race is also worth watching, in large part because a prominent GOP contender is Mark Finchem, a Trump-endorsed state legislator and an election-denier who was present near the Capitol on Jan. 6. Finchem, who has identified himself as an Oath Keepers member, has said he’ll only accept the election results if he wins. His principal rival is state Rep. Beau Lane, who’s acknowledged the reality of the 2020 race and who’s received considerable support from the state’s Republican establishment.

There’s also a highly competitive Republican primary in the race to succeed Brnovich as state attorney general, and among the top contenders is Abraham “Abe” Hamadeh, who’s built much of his campaign on echoing Trump’s lies about the 2020 race. He’s part of a crowded field, and the winner will face Democrat Kris Mayes, a former member of the Arizona Corporation Commission, who’s running unopposed. Mayes, incidentally, is emphasizing reproductive rights in her campaign, telling Arizonans that, if elected, she won’t enforce anti-abortion laws.

Also keep an eye on the congressional primary in the 1st district, where Rep. David Schweikert is facing a well-financed Republican rival, businessman Elijah Norton, who has spent heavily on campaign ads taking aim at the incumbent’s ethics troubles.

And while I generally wouldn’t include state legislative races in round-ups like these, Arizona’s Republican House Speaker, Rusty Bowers, is running for the state Senate. Because Bowers testified at a Jan. 6 committee hearing, Trump and his allies are retaliating and appear eager to end his career.

In Kansas, state Attorney General Derek Schmidt appears to be the favorite in a Republican gubernatorial primary, and will likely face Democratic incumbent Gov. Laura Kelly in November. There’s also a crowded Democratic field to take on Republican Sen. Jerry Moran, though the incumbent is a heavy favorite in a state that hasn’t elected a Democratic senator in 90 years.

But the marque contest is actually a ballot referendum: Kansans will vote on a proposed amendment to the state Constitution on abortion rights, the first such vote since Republican-appointed U.S. Supreme Court justices overturned Roe v. Wade. The measure wouldn’t ban abortion outright, but it would allow the legislature to do so.

An NBC News report added last week, “[A]bortion rights advocates worry that putting the issue before voters during a primary instead of the general election could significantly depress turnout for voters more likely to support reproductive rights. They also point to the fact that unaffiliated voters in the state — who aren’t allowed to cast ballots in primaries for the two major political parties — may not realize they can still vote on the ballot question.”

I'll also be watching the GOP primary in Kansas' attorney general race, where former secretary of state Kris Kobach is making a comeback bid.

In Michigan, a ballot-petition-signature controversy disqualified much of the Republican gubernatorial field months ago, leaving the party with a group of inexperienced also-rans. By all appearances, media personality Tudor Dixon is the frontrunner, though recent polling suggests she’d be an underdog against incumbent Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

In a closely watched congressional primary, Rep. Peter Meijer — one of only 10 House Republicans to support Trump’s second impeachment — is facing a primary challenge from election-denier John Gibbs, who’s received some Democratic backing because the party sees him as too radical to get elected in a competitive Grand Rapids-area district.

Also in Michigan is one of only a handful of member-vs.-member primaries, with Democratic Reps. Haley Stevens and Andy Levin competing in the state’s 11th district. Stevens has heavily outraised her colleague/rival, but Levin has a well known family name in Michigan politics and the support of prominent progressives, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

It's worth keeping an eye on Michigan’s secretary of state race, where Democratic incumbent Jocelyn Benson has faced serious threats for upholding election laws. In the GOP primary to take her on, Trump has backed Kristina Karamo, a prominent election-denier.

In Missouri, there’s a crowded Republican field running to replace retiring Sen. Roy Blunt, though most of the attention has been on disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens — who was the apparent frontrunner for a while, though his odds have diminished in recent weeks. Among the other top contenders are state Attorney General Eric Schmitt and U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who’s received an endorsement from U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley.

In the Democratic Senate primary, Trudy Busch Valentine, a registered nurse and an heiress to the Anheuser-Busch fortune, and Marine veteran Lucas Kunce appear to be the top contenders in an uphill race in the increasingly “red” state.

In the state’s 1st congressional district, incumbent Democratic Rep. Cori Bush is likely to prevail in her primary, though state Sen. Steve Roberts has received some notable endorsements in the race, including picking up support from former Rep. Lacy Clay, whom Bush defeated two years ago.

And in the state of Washington, some of the most interesting primaries are congressional primaries. Two incumbent GOP representatives — Dan Newhouse and Jaime Herrera Beutler — both supported Trump’s second impeachment and both are now facing tough primaries as a result.

Herrera Beutler’s opponent is of particular interest: She’s facing off against Joe Kent, whom the Associated Press recently reported has “connections to right-wing extremists, including a campaign consultant who was a member of the Proud Boys.” The same AP report added that Kent has courted prominent white nationalists as part of his candidacy.