In the absolute heartland of the nation, ruby red Kansas, pro-choice activists scored a huge victory and made Democrats optimistic for the first time in months. A statewide referendum that would potentially allow the Kansas legislature to limit and/or ban abortion was defeated last night, the first major electoral test since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturned Roe.
With nearly all of the precincts in, 534,134 (58.8%) Kansans voted against the ballot measure with 374,611 (41.2%) supporting it. Despite being attached to a primary contest in early August, the referendum spurred enormous turnout throughout the state.
Such a result should thrill Democrats looking for some way to stem a Republican tide in November. At a time when President Biden’s approval ratings are dangerously low, and inflation is dangerously high, a surge of pro-choice voters could be the difference in several key contests.
Senate and Gubernatorial Races
The most closely watched Senate contest last night was probably the one in Missouri’s Republican primary. Former Governor Eric Greitens was considered a potentially toxic nominee who would’ve put that normally red seat in danger. Instead, Attorney General Eric Schmitt took the nomination.
At this moment, Schmitt stands at 298,852 votes (45.7%) while Greitens is down in third with 123,982 votes (18.9%). Congresswoman Vicky Hartlzer, who Donald Trump explicitly denounced, ended up in second with 144,469 votes (22.1%).
While Missouri is now likely wrapped up for the GOP, the Senate race in Arizona stands to be one of the most competitive in the nation.
Blake Masters, a protégé of billionaire Peter Thiel and Trump’s preferred candidate, won the right to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in November. With an estimated 88% of precincts in, Masters took 242,880 votes (39.0%). Jim Lamon took the silver with 179,237 votes (28.8%), while Mark Brnovich had to settle for the bronze with 113,853 votes (18.3%).
Much more attention, however, was focused on Arizona’s Gubernatorial primaries. All eyes were on former local TV newswoman Kari Lake, who was elevated to front-runner status thanks to Donald Trump’s endorsement. Although the first batch found Lake trailing, additional votes overnight allowed her to take over the lead.
DDHQ believes that about 88% of precincts are in at the moment and Lake leads with 294,260 votes (46.2%). The more moderate, establishment candidate Karrin Taylor Robson is in second with 282,936 votes (44.4%).
Lake is likely to increase her margin in the coming hours and days, much as Trump gained ground in the state with late-arriving ballots in 2020. As a result, Lake is favored to win although we haven’t officially called the race.
If she does win the nomination, Lake will go on to face Democratic nominee and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in November. Hobbs easily won her primary with 350,851 votes and 72.8%.
Meanwhile, up north in Michigan, Republicans chose a nominee to go against Democratic incumbent Governor Gretchen Whitmer. After several promising candidates failed to secure enough signatures to make the ballot, conservative media personality Tudor Dixon emerged as the front-runner.
Dixon, in fact, did win the Republican nomination with 435,324 votes (40.6%). Her closest competitor was Kevin Rinke, who finished with 235,535 votes (22.0%).
Undoubtedly the most high-profile Congressional primary last night was the contest in Michigan’s 3rd District. Republican Rep. Dan Meijmer was one of ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump after January 6th and thus became a target of the former President. The DCCC also prompted an uproar by elevating Meijmer’s Trump-endorsed opponent John Gibbs.
In a close contest, Gibbs prevailed over Meijmer. With about 94% of precincts reporting, Gibbs sits at 54,065 votes (51.8%) to Meijmer’s 50,211 votes (48.2%). This is good news both for Trump and the DCCC as Gibbs is considered a weaker general election candidate for this toss-up seat.
Elsewhere in the Great Lakes State, moderate Haley Stevens defeated progressive Andy Levin in an incumbent vs. incumbent race brought on by Census reapportionment. Rep. Stevens came ahead in the 11th district, which represents suburban Detroit, with 70,478 votes (59.9%). Rep. Levin had to settle for 47,117 votes (40.1%).
One final race in Michigan was the open contest for Detroit’s deep blue 13th district. State Rep. Shri Thanedar leads the crowded field with 22,302 votes (28.3%). State Sen. Adam Hollier, the choice of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, came up short in second with 18,513 votes (23.5%).
Down in Arizona, I had my eye on three congressional contests.
In the 2nd district, a mostly rural seat representing the northeastern portion of the state, Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran is trying to survive the national headwides. He’ll be going against Trump’s preferred candidate Navy Seal Eli Crane.
With most of the precincts in, Crane prevailed with 26,824 votes (33.9%) over State Rep. Walter Blackman and his 19,127 votes (24.2%).
I was also monitoring both primaries in the open 6th district, which comprises most of southeast Arizona. In the Democratic contest, State Sen. Kirsten Engel won with 40,632 votes (59.5%) over State Rep. Daniel Hernandez and his 23,471 votes (34.4%). Meanwhile, in the Republican primary, Kevin McCarthy’s preferred candidate Juan Ciscomani prevailed with 34,560 votes (46.5%) over a crowded field.
Next up are a trio of contests in Missouri. In the St. Louis-based 1st district Squad member Cori Bush easily defeated a challenge from embattled State Sen. Steve Roberts. Bush finished with 65,208 votes (69.5%) against Roberts’ 24,973 votes (26.6%).
The aforementioned Vicky Hartlzer left her Congressional district open to run for Senate, leaving an alluring Republican seat up for grabs. Local news anchor Mark Alford won the free-for-all with 36,537 votes (35.0%).
Lastly, there’s another open GOP seat out in the 7th district. State Sen. Eric Burlison prevailed with 39,422 votes (38.2%). Burlison was backed by Ted Cruz, the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, so his victory is a win for all of them as well.
Finally, let’s head west and look at a few Congressional primaries in Washington. In the Evergreen State there are a pair of House Republicans who voted for Donald Trump’s impeachment trying to survive.
Washington is a mail-in state and features a blanket primary, so we’ll have to wait a bit to see which two candidates, regardless of party, advance to November.
At the moment, however, both Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse are in the top-two. In the 3rd district, with 57% of precincts in, Democrat Marie Perez is in first with 34,229 votes (31.8%). Herrera Beutler sits in second with 26,373 votes (24.5%). Trump’s preferred Republican, Joe Kent, is in third with 21,666 votes (20.1%).
In the 4th district, with 47% of precincts in, Rep. Newhouse is out in front with 20,542 votes (27.3%). Democrat Doug White is in second with 19,534 votes (26.0%) and Trump-endorsed Republican Loren Culp is in third with 16,352 votes (21.8%).
Make sure to keep an eye on Decision Desk HQ to see how those races in Washington pan out. Later this week, we’ve got primaries in Tennessee and the Virgin Islands. Then next week will feature primaries in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin. I’ll be back in a week with a recap of all those contests as the march to November continues.