It’s been a long July for political junkies everywhere.
On August 2nd, primaries will take place in five states: Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington. Among these primaries are some of the most anticipated contests of the year, so I’m compiling a list of all the races I’ll be monitoring on Tuesday night.
Arizona Governor – Republican Primary
First up, there’s the GOP race for the open Gubernatorial seat in the newly purple state of Arizona. This contest is one of the most bitter primaries of the year, pitting former news anchor Kari Lake against lawyer Karrin Taylor Robson.
Lake is a conservative firebrand, who supported John Kerry and Barack Obama before becoming a full-blown believer in Donald Trump. On the other side, Robson comes from a Arizona Republican dynasty and is married to a billionaire.
Donald Trump is backing Lake, while Mike Pence and outgoing Gov. Doug Ducey are supporting Robson. The former Presidential ticketmates even held dueling rallies in Arizona last Friday, so the nation’s political press will likely frame the results in context of the Trump-Pence rivalry.
Arizona Senate – Republican Primary
Arizona is home to not one but two competitive statewide Republican primaries, as a crowded field of GOP hopefuls are fighting for the right to take on Democratic Senator Mark Kelly in November.
In this contest, the various conservative and Trump-aligned power players are splitting their support among three separate candidates. First off there’s Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson, who are throwing their support behind Blake Masters. Then there’s Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, who are endorsing Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Finally, CPAC and the NAPO are pushing businessman Jim Lamon.
One other considerable factor in Masters’ favor is the support of his boss, billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel, and the $15 million Thiel’s given to a pro-Masters Super PAC. The combination of Thiel’s cash and Trump’s endorsement has already borne fruit in Ohio with J.D. Vance. Another win in Arizona will make this a trend to watch.
Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District – Republican Primary
Northeast Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District presents a prime target for Republicans, as Democratic incumbent Rep. Tom O’Halleran tries to hold on to a seat that redistricting shifted from R+1 to R+6.
As you might expect, then, several Republicans are vying for this first-rate opportunity. State Rep. Walter Blackman secured the support of several of his colleagues, while controversial ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio is backing business consultant Mark DeLuzio. Finally, former President Trump threw his support behind Navy Seal Eli Crane.
Trump’s endorsement of Crane was notable for earning boos at a recent rally in Arizona, which would seem to indicate some major discontent with Crane among the Trump faithful.
Arizona’s 6th Congressional District – Democratic and Republican Primaries
Over in the Democratic primary, State Senator Kirsten Engel is running against State Rep. Daniel Hernandez Jr. Reps. Raul Grijalva and Annie Kuster are backing Engel, as is Emily’s List. Conversely, the Arizona Teachers Federation, Everytown for Gun Safety and Human Rights Campaign is supporting Hernandez.
While the Democrats are somewhat evenly split, in the Republican contest one favorite is seeking to hold off a field of challengers. Senior Advisor to Gov. Ducey Juan Ciscomani enjoys the backing of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, making him the front-runner in a seat that is favored to flip red in November.
Michigan Governor – Republican Primary
Not many primaries feature five disqualifications and an FBI arrest, so the GOP primary for Michigan’s Governorship is definitely unique. All those DQs were the result of fraudulent signatures that left five campaigns short of the state’s petition threshold. Meanwhile, that arrest concerned a candidate involved in the January 6th insurrection.
Now that the dust from all that has finally begun to settle, conservative media personality Tudor Dixon appears to be the prime beneficiary. For example, she’s got the support of the Chamber of Commerce and the influential DeVos family, and therefore has taken a lead in the polls.
A victory would set Dixon up for a general election battle with incumbent Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Given Whitmer’s status as a rising star in the Democratic Party, she’ll be one of the GOP’s top targets.
Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District – Republican Primary
When he was running to replace Never Trumper Justin Amash, Peter Meijer presented himself as a reliable supporter of Donald Trump. After he won his race, however, that all changed. Rep. Meijer not only voted to impeach Trump, but also supported the creation of a Jan. 6th Commission and held Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress.
With a record like that, Trump was bound to seek his ouster. The former President is backing John Gibbs, who served in his Administration as an Assistant Secretary for HUD. If Gibbs wins the Republican nomination, Democrats are eager to pounce in this D+1 seat, which represents the increasingly blue area of Grand Rapids. The party even has attorney Hillary Scholten lined up as their presumptive nominee, and she might be the favorite if Gibbs becomes her general election opponent.
Michigan’s 11th Congressional District – Democratic Primary
Michigan lost a seat during reapportionment for the 2020 Census, so you know what that means: a good, old-fashioned incumbent vs incumbent battle. Two Democratic Reps. Andy Levin and Haley Stevens were both drawn into this D+7 seat in suburban Detroit.
The contest between Levin and Stevens is also an ideological battle, with Levin representing the progressive wing of the party and Stevens the moderate wing. So while Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are backing Levin, Stevens won the support of Hillary Clinton and AIPAC.
Polling is a bit scattershot, but it appears that Stevens holds a slight advantage.
Michigan’s 13th Congressional District – Democratic Primary
Whereas Michigan’s 11th is a Democratic district with two incumbents inside, Michigan’s 13th is a heavily Democratic district with no incumbents inside. A slew of Democrats are seeking to represent this D+23 seat, with polls showing five major contenders: John Conyers III, State Sen. Adam Hollier, ex-Detroit General Counsel Sharon McPhail, Civil Rights Commissioner Portia Roberson and State Rep. Shri Thanedar.
Conyers is the son of former Congressman John Conyers, while Hollier won the backing of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. Most polls have found McPhail ahead, while Roberson has the endorsement of the Detroit Free Press and Emily’s List. Finally, there’s Thanedar, who is leading the latest poll. Whoever emerges will be the overwhelming favorite in November.
Missouri Senate – Republican Primary
In the Show-Me State, Republicans are desperately trying to prevent former Governor Eric Greitens from winning the Senate nomination, and it looks like they’ll succeed.
Greitens resigned from the Governorship back in 2018 after a former mistress accused him of sexually assaulting and blackmailing her. Then earlier this year, Greitens’ ex-wife filed an affidavit in their divorce case asserting that he had physically abused her and their son. As a result, Greitens would be a toxic nominee who’d put a safe Republican seat in play.
By blanketing the airwaves with anti-Greitens Super PAC TV ads highlighting those allegations, top Republicans were able to knock Greitens out of the lead. Now Attorney General Eric Schmitt is out in front, while Greitens has fallen all the way to third place behind Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler. So long as Greitens doesn’t make a surprise comeback, the winner of this primary is the heavy favorite to be Missouri’s next Senator.
Missouri’s 1st Congressional District – Democratic Primary
Congresswoman Cori Bush’s August 2020 upset of incumbent Lacy Clay was a much-needed boost for the progressive wing of the party. Now the Squad member is on the defensive as State Sen. Steve Roberts, who has the backing of Clay, seeks to make Bush a one-term wonder.
A pair of sexual assault allegations, however, are hampering Roberts’ campaign. At the same time, Bush is leading in all the polls and seems favored to win renomination. In this D+27 district that represents part of St. Louis, it would be nearly impossible for Rep. Bush to lose the general election.
Missouri’s 4th Congressional District – Republican Primary
With Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler running in the Senate race, her R+23 seat out in western Missouri is suddenly open. Among the candidates seeking out this prime opportunity are former NHL player Jim Campbell and local news anchor Mark Alford. Perhaps due to his local fame, Alford actually finished first in the only poll of the race.
Governor Mike Parson chose to endorse cattle farmer and family friend Kalena Bruce, and a victory for Bruce would represent a major win for Gov. Parson in this wide-open contest. Unfortunately for Parson, other conservatives aren’t following his lead. FreedomWorks is backing State Sen. Rick Brattin, while Sen. Tom Cotton endorsed Boone County Clerk Taylor Burks.
Missouri’s 7th Congressional District – Republican Primary
Speaking of Congressmen who left their safe House seat to take a shot at the Senate, we also have Rep. Billy Long of the 7th district. As you might expect, a suddenly open R+24 district in Missouri’s southwestern corner was quite an enticement, resulting in a crowded field of GOP hopefuls.
A trio of State Senators (Eric Burlison, Mike Moon and Jay Wasson) stand out from the rest of the pack. Burlison, in particular, appears to be the front-runner. After all, Burlison secured the support of Ted Cruz, the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks. He also came out ahead in the only nonpartisan survey done of the race. Nevertheless, a Burlison victory is by no means assured, so keep an eye out for Moon and Wasson.
Kansas Abortion Ballot Measure
Let’s mix things up a bit by looking at Kansas and its statewide ballot initiative concerning abortion. Despite being a deeply red state, abortion is legal in Kansas thanks to a 2019 ruling by the State Supreme Court. This ballot measure would overturn that ruling and allow the Republican legislature to institute the same abortion restrictions they’ve established in neighboring states.
The success or failure of this ballot initiative, coming just over a month since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe, will color how political observers view the newly energized pro-choice contigent of voters. A victory here in heavily Republican Kansas, on a low-turnout primary day, would shift how we view the national environment in the run-up to these midterms.
Washington’s 3rd Congressional District Top-Two Primary
Out west we have yet another incumbent Republican Representative in Donald Trump’s sights for supporting his second impeachment. After earning Trump’s ire, Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler is facing a primary challenge from former Green Beret Joe Kent.
A trio of Trafalgar Group polls from earlier in the year found Kent ahead of Beutler, but in that time Democrats have coalesced behind candidate Marie Perez. It’s not inconceivable that in this R+5 seat Beutler and Kent could both advance under Washington’s top-two blanket primary system.
Washington’s 4th Congressional District Top-Two Primary
Stop me if this sounds familiar. In Washington, a Republican Congressman is facing a Trump-backed challenger after voting to impeach the former President in early 2021. Yes, the exact same situation in Washington’s 3rd district is happening in Washington’s 4th district too.
This time it’s Rep. Dan Newhouse who’s trying to outlast the threat from former police chief Loren Culp. While Democratic candidate Dan White could be a factor, this R+11 district could also conceivably feature a Republican vs Republican general election contest.
Don’t forget to come back to Decision Desk HQ to track all these races and more on Tuesday night!