Donald Trump towers over Tuesday’s GOP primary races


Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday is looking to settle the score with three of the ten House Republicans who voted to impeach him for inciting the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Reps. Peter Meijer of Michigan, and Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse, both of Washington, are fighting for their political lives against Trump-backed primary challengers in races that will test the ex-president’s political reach.

Mr. Meijer faces the added challenge of having Democrats meddle in his race by running ads that seek to lift up his primary opponent, John Gibbs.

“It is a very big test for Trump,” GOP strategist Steve Mitchell said of Mr. Meijer’s primary race in western Michigan. “One of Trump’s major missions was to make sure all ten Republicans who voted to impeach him were not in the Congress next year.”

“Therefore, it is very important for Trump to see Meijer defeated,” Mr. Mitchell said.

So far, half of the pro-impeachment House Republicans will not be returning to Washington next year.

Four of them decided to call it quits rather than face voters again, and Rep. Tom Rice lost to a Trump-backed primary challenger in South Carolina’s 7th Congressional District.

Voters on Tuesday will have their say in House, Senate and gubernatorial nomination races in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington.

In Kansas, voters also will consider a referendum adding an amendment to the Kansas state Constitution that would allow state lawmakers to legislate abortion access.

It’s the first referendum vote on abortion policy by a state since the Supreme Court rolled back abortion protections that had existed since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

The primary battles on Tuesday will set the table for the general election. Democrats are defending their fragile hold on the House and the 50-50 Senate, where Vice President Kamala Harris has the tie-breaking vote.

Republicans are hoping that Mr. Biden’s poor approval rating and the negative impact of inflation will generate a red wave.

Democrats, on the other hand, are scrambling to find seats they can flip.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the campaign arm of House Democrats, has been running what amounts to pro-Gibbs ads over the last week of the primary campaign in Michigan, seeing him as a weaker general election candidate than Mr. Meijer.

“With Gibbs as the nominee, Democrats would have a better chance to flip the district,” said J. Miles Coleman, of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, in a pre-primary analysis.

In Washington, Ms. Herrera Beutler has four challengers in the 3rd Congressional District, including from Joe Kent, a former Green Beret who has won Mr. Trump’s support.

Mr. Newhouse faces seven challengers in the 4th Congressional District. His toughest test could be Loren Culp, a Trump-endorsed former police chief.

Republicans, meanwhile, are playing up their odds of defeating Sen. Patty Murray,  the third highest-ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate.

They hope Tiffany Smiley, a nurse and veterans advocate, can give Ms. Murray headaches in the fall.

In Washington’s primary system, the top-two vote getters advance to the general election, regardless of party.

In Michigan, voters will pick a general election opponent for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat whom President Biden vetted as a potential running mate.

The GOP gubernatorial race got off to a rocky start after state election officials removed three candidates from the ballot because their campaigns had submitted forged signatures.

Former television host Tudor Dixon scored Mr. Trump’s endorsement and is viewed as the GOP frontrunner.

Mr. Trump announced Monday he would be endorsing a Republican in the 21-person race in Missouri for the seat of retiring Sen. Roy Blunt.

The list of contenders includes former Gov. Eric Greitens, who resigned in 2018 amid allegations of sexual misconduct; state Attorney General Eric Schmitt; Rep. Vicky Hartzler; Rep. Billy Long and Mark McCloskey, the St. Louis lawyer best known for brandishing firearms at Black Lives Matter protestors who were marching through his neighborhood.

The state’s other senator, Josh Hawley, has endorsed Ms. Hartzler.

In Arizona, Mr. Trump is backing tech investor Blake Masters’ Senate campaign for the GOP nomination. His top rivals are Jim Lamon, founder of a solar energy firm, and state Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

Mr. Trump is supporting former television news anchor Kari Lake in the governor’s race. Ms. Lake says she would not have certified the state’s 2020 election results after Mr. Biden narrowly won Arizona.

Former Vice President Mike Pence and outgoing Gov. Doug Ducey, co-chair of the Republican Governors Association, have lined up behind another candidate: Karrin Taylor Robson, a former developer and lobbyist.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is expected to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

In the GOP Senate race, Mr. Masters has had momentum since winning Mr. Trump’s endorsement in June.

Mr. Brnovich was deemed the frontrunner early on, but has faced withering criticism from Mr. Trump over his refusal to further his claims of a stolen election.

Billionaire businessman Peter Thiel has spent millions on behalf of Mr. Masters.

The winner of the race will face off against Sen. Mark Kelly, a former astronaut and husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Mr. Kelly won the seat in a 2020 special election and is viewed as one of the most vulnerable Democrats. He ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.


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