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 EllisonEllison accuser: Dems 'smeared, threatened, isolated' me Kavanaugh becomes September surprise for midterm candidates Trump Jr., Dem congressman spar over Ellison's association with Farrakhan 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 SmithElection Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls Farm bill must protect working lands conservation programs Kavanaugh becomes September surprise for midterm candidates 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 BaldwinDems seek to rebuild blue wall in Rust Belt contests The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — The Hill interviews President Trump Poll: Democrats inch forward in Wisconsin MORE (D) in November.

Vukmir won the support of prominent Republicans and conservatives groups, including House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP super PAC drops .5 million on Nevada ad campaign Blue wave poses governing risks for Dems Dems seek to rebuild blue wall in Rust Belt contests MORE (R-Wis.), former White House chief of staff and Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince PriebusReinhold (Reince) Richard PriebusBannon says right must support ‘RINOs’ CNN: Trump searching for Woodward sources in White House Woodward book rocks Trump White House 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 rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada 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 RubioNikki Haley: New York Times ‘knew the facts’ about curtains and still released story March For Our Lives founder leaves group, says he regrets trying to 'embarrass' Rubio Rubio unloads on Turkish chef for 'feasting' Venezuela's Maduro: 'I got pissed' 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 FrankenElection Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls #MeToo era shows there's almost never only one accuser, says Hill.TV's Krystal Ball Hypocrisy in Kavanaugh case enough to set off alarms in DC 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 WalzElection Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls White House re-lowers flag to half staff to honor McCain after backlash Election Countdown: GOP worries House majority endangered by top of ticket | Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries | Parties fight for Puerto Rican vote in Florida | GOP lawmakers plan 'Freedom Tour' 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 rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada 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 SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersTrump's trade war — firing all cannons or closing the portholes? The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump rips 'ridiculous' spending bill | FBI dragged into new fight | Latest on Maryland shooting Poll: Most Massachusetts voters don't think Warren should run for president in 2020 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.