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What to watch as four states hold August 9 primaries

As the dust settles on last week’s dramatic primaries, the political world’s attention shifts to tomorrow’s contests, with four states holding primaries.


As the dust settles on last week’s dramatic primaries, the political world’s attention shifts to tomorrow’s contests, with four states holding primaries — the last day of the 2022 cycle in which there are four primaries on a single day.

In Connecticut, it’s been a few decades since Republicans won a U.S. Senate race, and this year’s contest against Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal won’t be easy. Making matters tougher is a stark GOP division: While much of the party establishment has rallied behind former state House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, a relative moderate, Donald Trump threw his support behind Republican National Committee member Leora Levy, who’s much further to the right.

Also worth watching is the GOP’s gubernatorial primary, where three Republicans are competing for the right to take on incumbent Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont. The top contender appears to be Bob Stefanowski, who wants a rematch after losing to Lamont four years ago by only three points.

In Minnesota, Republicans are likely to back former state Sen. Scott Jensen, a physician who’s spoken out against Covid vaccines and condemned efforts to stop the spread of the virus, in the gubernatorial primary. As part of his statewide candidacy, Jensen has also suggested that he’d support incarcerating Minnesota’s Democratic secretary of state over election-related conspiracy theories.

In Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, Rep. Ilhan Omar is expected to prevail in her Democratic primary, but she’s nevertheless facing a challenge from former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels, who’s perhaps best known for helping defeat a 2021 effort to replace Minneapolis’ police department.

Arguably the most notable — and most confusing — contest in the Great Lakes State is in Minnesota’s 1st congressional district, where voters will effectively vote in two elections at once. First, voters will choose a successor for the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who died earlier this year. On the same ballot, locals will be voting in congressional primaries for the November general election. The top contenders in both contests are former Republican state Rep. Brad Finstad and Democrat Jeff Ettinger, the former CEO of Hormel Foods.

In Vermont, retirement announcements from Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy, as well as the state’s Democratic state attorney general and secretary of state, have touched off a rather intense game of musical chairs. The marquee contest is the Democrats’ U.S. House primary, featuring Lt. Gov. Molly Gray and Becca Balint, the president pro tempore of the state Senate. The winner is likely to prevail in November — and in the process, she’ll become the first woman to ever represent Vermont on Capitol Hill.

And in Wisconsin, there was supposed to be a highly competitive Democratic U.S. Senate primary, but Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes’ rivals recently bowed out, effectively narrowing the field to one.

The more competitive contest is the Republicans’ gubernatorial primary, where much of the party establishment, including former Vice President Mike Pence and Gov. Scott Walker, has rallied behind former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. Trump, however, has backed Tim Michels, a construction executive who’s lost a handful of other elections.

There’s also a three-way GOP primary in the state attorney general’s race, featuring former state Assembly member Adam Jarchow and Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney, the latter of whom was recently caught describing Donald Trump as “dumb“ two years ago. Also in the race is attorney Karen Mueller, who has focused primarily on Covid and election conspiracy theories.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin’s 3rd congressional district, which has been shifting in a “red” direction in recent election cycles, Democratic Rep. Ron Kind is retiring. There are four Democrats vying to replace him, while Republican Derrick Van Orden, who narrowly lost to Kind two years ago, is running unopposed for the GOP nod.