Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries

Democrats rode a wave of firsts on Tuesday, becoming in Vermont the first major party to nominate an openly transgender person for governor, while potentially picking the first African-American Democrat to serve in the House from Connecticut.

They were among the big highlights from a round of primaries across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Vermont that also featured state Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Muslim woman who emerged as the Democratic nominee for a House seat currently held by another Muslim, Rep. Keith EllisonKeith Maurice EllisonMinnesota files civil rights charge against state's police department over George Floyd killing Conor Lamb hits Trump over 'law and order': He's 'bad at it' Shadowy protesters inflame, muddle George Floyd debate MORE (D-Minn.).

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Meanwhile, establishment candidates prevailed in Senate races in Wisconsin, where state Sen. Leah Vukmir, who won the endorsement of the state GOP earlier this year, emerged victorious over Marine Corps veteran Kevin Nicholson, a former Democrat who cast himself as a political outsider.

Likewise, in Minnesota, Sen. Tina SmithTina Flint SmithPelosi: George Floyd death is 'a crime' Senate Democrat introduces bill to protect food supply Four Minneapolis officers involved in death of unarmed black man fired MORE (D) overcame a challenge from Richard Painter, a former ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, in one of the state’s Democratic Senate primaries. 

Here are the five takeaways from Tuesday’s primaries:

The establishment flexes its muscle

It was a good night for the establishment, especially in Wisconsin’s GOP primary for Senate.

Vukmir, who won the Wisconsin Republican Party’s endorsement in May, edged out first-time candidate Nicholson in the state’s GOP Senate primary, setting her up to challenge incumbent Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinWarren calls for investigation into OSHA inspections during pandemic Mail ballot surge places Postal Service under spotlight Justice Department investigating meat price increases: report MORE (D) in November.

Vukmir won the support of prominent Republicans and conservatives groups, including House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTwitter joins Democrats to boost mail-in voting — here's why Lobbying world John Ratcliffe is the right choice for director of national intelligence — and for America MORE (R-Wis.), former White House chief of staff and Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince PriebusReinhold (Reince) Richard PriebusMeadows joins White House facing reelection challenges Trump names Mark Meadows as new chief of staff Mick Mulvaney's job security looks strong following impeachment MORE, and the National Rifle Association. 

Nicholson sought to cast Vukmir, a longtime player in Wisconsin Republican politics and an ally of Gov. Scott Walker (R), as a political insider. But that line of attack failed to work with Wisconsin's GOP primary voters.

That's not to say that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says inviting Russia to G7 'a question of common sense' Pentagon chief does not support invoking Insurrection Act Dershowitz: Does President Trump have power to declare martial law? MORE was absent from the race. Though he didn't endorse anybody, Vukmir often name-checked Trump’s policy proposals on the campaign trail, expressing her support for his long-promised border wall and pledging to help “drain the swamp” in Washington.

Her support for Trump was meant to inoculate herself from charges from Nicholson that she had been insufficiently loyal to the president. 

Vukmir had made critical comments of Trump in the past and initially supported Walker during the 2016 GOP presidential primaries, before backing Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP senators dodge on treatment of White House protesters Murkowski: Treatment of White House protesters 'not the America I know' Rubio: Protesters outside White House 'deliberately stayed to trigger police action' MORE (R-Fla.).

But as a former Democrat, Nicholson was also vulnerable in a Republican primary, and he ultimately failed to make much of his Trump attacks against Vukmir.

The establishment also held strong in a couple of Minnesota primaries.

Smith, who was appointed to the seat after Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenPolitical world mourns loss of comedian Jerry Stiller Maher to Tara Reade on timing of sexual assault allegation: 'Why wait until Biden is our only hope?' Democrats begin to confront Biden allegations MORE’s resignation, cruised to victory over Painter. Smith, the former lieutenant governor, has deep ties to Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, which endorsed her in the special election.

And in the 1st District, Republican Jim Hagedorn, who’s making his fourth run for Congress, won the GOP primary in the race to replace Rep. Tim WalzTimothy (Tim) James WalzThe Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen Illinois man charged with handing out explosives to Minneapolis rioters Minnesota files civil rights charge against state's police department over George Floyd killing MORE (D-Minn.). Hagedorn, the 2016 nominee who came close to unseating Walz, scored the state party’s endorsement.

One glaring exception was in Minnesota’s governor race, where former Gov. Tim Pawlenty failed to make a comeback bid. Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson won the Republican primary instead, after closely aligning himself with Trump.

Democrats make history

Democrats have been making history this cycle as more female, LGBT and minority candidates run for Congress — and win.

In Vermont, Democrats elected the first transgender gubernatorial nominee of a major political party after Christine Hallquist, a first-time candidate and the former CEO of the state’s electricity co-op, emerged as the winner of the primary.

She now faces Republican Gov. Phil Scott in November, though it’ll be an uphill climb for Democrats to take back the governor’s mansion. Vermont may be a blue state, and one that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump, Biden battle to shape opinion on scenes of unrest Sessions accepts 'Fox News Sunday' invitation to debate, Tuberville declines The Memo: Trump lags in polls as crises press MORE easily won in 2016, but Scott remains popular, winning his first term by 8 points that same year.

And in Minnesota’s 5th District, Omar won in a crowded Democratic primary, and she’ll likely be among the first Muslim women elected to Congress along with former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who won her Michigan Democratic primary earlier this month.

Omar ran in the race to replace Ellison, who in 2006 was the first Muslim elected to Congress. A Somali-American, she was endorsed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a democratic socialist who defeated a longtime incumbent in a New York House primary.

And in the race to replace Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.), Democrat Jahana Hayes, the 2016 Teacher of the Year, would be the first African-American Democrat elected to Congress from Connecticut — if she wins the general election in November.

'Ironstache' wins, but faces complicated path in race for Ryan's seat

Ironworker Randy Bryce may have secured the Democratic nomination to replace Ryan, the retiring House Speaker, in the southeast Wisconsin district, but it’s not likely to be smooth sailing for the candidate dubbed “Ironstache” as he heads into the general election.

The mustachioed 53-year-old garnered a reputation as a rising Democratic star after he announced his candidacy last summer in an emotional video about how his mother was struggling to afford vital drugs, which quickly went viral.

But Bryce faced a tougher-than-expected challenge from Janesville school board member Cathy Myers after being hit by a series of negative headlines regarding his past arrests for marijuana possession and driving under the influence, as well as the revelation that he failed to pay child support until after he declared his House bid.

Those revelations are sure to fuel Republican attacks ahead of November, complicating his campaign fight against Republican Bryan Steil, who also secured his party’s nomination on Tuesday.

Steil is a former aide to Ryan and received the endorsement of the outgoing Speaker. What’s more, the Cook Political Report rates the district as "leaning Republican," meaning Bryce and the Democrats are almost certain to face a tough path in flipping Wisconsin’s 1st District.

Will abuse allegations rock Ellison's bid for AG in November?

Ellison easily won the Democratic primary for Minnesota attorney general, but it remains to be seen how his campaign will be affected going forward by recent domestic abuse allegations.

Ellison won 51 percent of the vote against four other Democrats in the open-seat race. Ellison had been considered the front-runner since he announced his candidacy in June.

But in recent days Ellison has faced abuse allegations after the son of his ex-girlfriend posted on Facebook that he watched a video where the congressman allegedly dragged his mother off a bed and shouted profanities at her.

The ex-girlfriend, Karen Monahan, backed up her son’s account. But Ellison denies those allegations, saying that the video referenced doesn’t exist.

It’s still unclear how, or if, the allegations will roil Ellison’s campaign going forward. But they’re being taken seriously. The Democratic National Committee said on Tuesday that it is “reviewing” the abuse allegations levied at Ellison, who serves as the committee's vice chairman.

Ellison will face former state Rep. Doug Wardlow in November.

'Medicare for all' winning among Democrats 

"Medicare for all" may not be fading from the headlines any time soon after a number of Democrats won their respective primaries after campaigning heavily on that health-care message 

Few candidates did it as poignantly as Bryce, who made single-payer health care a critical part of his campaign messaging, including in his viral campaign announcement video featuring his mother. He was endorsed by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden wins DC primary Biden wins Montana primary Biden wins New Mexico primary MORE (I-Vt.), who has championed Medicare for all legislation in the Senate.

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, Omar ran a progressive platform that includes a single-payer system among other progressive issues. And in Connecticut, Hayes also backs Medicare for all, as does Hallquist in Vermont.

Republicans have already indicated that they plan to weaponize Medicare for all, arguing that it’ll spook more moderate voters in competitive seats. But Democrats who ran on this platform will ensure that it’ll likely remain a campaign issue — provided they continue to talk about it frequently in a general election.