In Missouri, scandalized former governor Eric Greitens attempts a political comeback. In Michigan, a crowded group of Republican gubernatorial candidates includes a man charged in the attack on the US Capitol on January 6. In Arizona, a prominent figure in the QAnon conspiracy movement is running for the US House.
These are among the most notable contests in Tuesday’s primary elections taking place in six states.
Arizona, which Democrat Joe Biden narrowly won in 2020, is a prime target for former President Donald Trump, who unsuccessfully tried to overturn his loss. He endorsed a top-to-bottom ballot slate of candidates who promoted his bogus claims of stolen election.
Trump was also targeted at the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him on the January 6 uprising. Three of them are on the ballot Tuesday in Washington and Michigan state, as are two “team” members, Democratic Representatives Cori Bush of Missouri and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
Meanwhile, Kansas voters could pave the way for the Republican-controlled legislature to further restrict or ban abortion if they approve a constitutional change proposed by the state. It’s the first referendum vote on abortion policy by a state since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. wade in June.
Ohio is also holding a primary for state legislative races on Tuesday, three months after its statewide and congressional contests — a split system stemming from legal wrangling over redistricting.
What to watch:
The Trump-endorsed candidates in Arizona all have one thing in common: They have been loudly spouting misinformation about the legitimacy of the 2020 election, despite election officials and Trump’s own attorney general saying he there was no credible evidence that the race was tainted.
In the race for governor, Trump backed former TV news anchor Kari Lakewho said she wouldn’t certify Arizona’s 2020 election results. Lake takes on businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robsonwhich is backed by former Vice President Mike Pence and incumbent Governor Doug Ducey.
Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a strong advocate for the 2020 election, is heavily favored to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
In the US Senate Republican primary, Trump backed tech investor Blake Masters as a candidate to face incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly in the fall. Masters, whose campaign was funded by billionaire Peter Thiel, has called for reducing legal immigration and espoused the baseless “great replacement” conspiracy theory, saying Democrats are trying to “replace Americans who were born here”.
Attorney General Mark Brnovitch, another Senate candidate, has been weighed down by lackluster fundraising and heavy criticism from Trump, who says Brnovich has done little to advance his voter fraud allegations. Another top contender, Jim Lamonthe founder of a solar energy company, was a fake voter for Trump in 2020, signing a certificate falsely claiming the then-president had won the state.
The Republican primary for Secretary of State includes Trump-backed lawmaker Mark Finchem, a state representative who worked to undo Trump’s 2020 loss; State Representative Shawnna Bolick, who introduced a bill to allow lawmakers to ignore election results and choose their own presidential voters; and State Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita, who has long pushed for revisions to election laws. The GOP establishment has rallied behind ad executive Beau Lane in the race.
Ron Watkins, who has ties to the QAnon conspiracy theory, is seen as a long shot in his home run. Watkins, a Republican, was the longtime administrator of the online chat rooms that became the home of the anonymous “Q.” The conspiracy theory centers on the unsubstantiated belief that Trump ran a covert campaign against enemies in the “deep state” and that a group of satanic, cannibalistic child molesters covertly rule the world.
In the State Legislature, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowerswho testified at a Jan. 6 hearing about Trump’s push to cancel the 2020 election, is facing a Trump-backed candidate in his bid to run for the state Senate.
The Republican primary for governor was wild from the start, with five candidates kicked out of the ballot for not filing enough valid nomination signatures.
Several of the remaining candidates have baggage that could hurt in a general election against Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Real Estate Broker Ryan Kelley pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges after authorities said he rallied Trump supporters to storm the US Capitol. Businessman Kevin Rinke was sued in the 1990s for sexual harassment and racial discrimination – allegations he says are lies. Chiropractor Garrett Soldano sold supplements he falsely claimed to treat COVID-19. Conservative commentator Tudor Dixonwhich was endorsed by Trumphas already acted in low-budget horror films.
All of the candidates falsely say there was fraud in the 2020 election, with Dixon, Kelley and Soldano claiming the election was stolen from Trump.
Republican Representative Peter Meijer hopes to retain his seat after voting to impeach Trump. Former president endorsed businessman and missionary John Gibbswho worked in the Trump administration under Housing Secretary Ben Carson.
Greitens’ political career ended when he resigned as governor in 2018, following his admission to an extramarital affair and accusations of blackmail and campaign finance violations. On Tuesday, the former Navy SEAL officer has a chance to redeem himself in his Republican primary for the seat held by retired GOP US Senator Roy Blunt.
Greitens, Attorney General Eric Schmitt and U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler are favorites in a 21-person GOP group that includes U.S. Rep. Billy Long and St. Louis attorney Mark McCloskey. who, along with his wife, pointed guns at protesters against racial injustice who ventured down their private street.
Trump did not make an endorsement in the race, although he ruled out Hartzler.
The GOP winner in Missouri, a solidly Republican state, will be favored in November. But Republican leaders have long worried that Greitens — his ex-wife also accused him of abuseallegations Greitens called “baseless” – could win the primary but lose the general election.
On the Democratic side, the nomination seems to be won between Lucas KunceMarine veteran and self-proclaimed populist, and Trudy Busch Valentinean heiress to the Busch beer fortune who largely self-funded her campaign.
Two members of the Washington State Republican House who voted to impeach Trump face leading opponents endorsed by him.
Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, who has served in Congress since 2011, said she voted for impeachment because she had “an obligation to the Constitution.” Trump endorsed Joe Kenta former Green Beret and conservative cable regular who echoes the former president’s grievances over the 2020 election outcome.
Representative And Newhouse, a member of Congress since 2015, said he voted to impeach Trump for inciting and refusing to immediately end the Jan. 6 insurgency. Among his challengers is Loren Culpa Trump-backed former small-town police chief who refused to concede the 2020 gubernatorial race to Democrat Jay Inslee.
In Washington, the top two voters in each race, regardless of party, advance to November.
Voters will decide whether to approve a change to the state constitution that could allow the Legislature to restrict or ban abortion despite a 2019 state Supreme Court ruling that the access to abortion is a fundamental right. This is the first state abortion referendum since the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
In statewide races, Republican Kris Kobach is running for attorney general as he attempts a political comeback after losses in the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races in previous years. Kobach, the state’s former secretary of state, served as deputy chairman of a short-lived Trump commission on voter fraud after the 2016 election.
Associated Press writers Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix; Sara Burnett in Chicago; Jim Salter in O’Fallon, Missouri; Chris Grygiel in Seattle; and John Hanna in Topeka, Kansas; contributed to this report.
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.
Follow AP for full midterm election coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ap_politics.