Five takeaways from races in Alabama, Georgia and beyond
Voters headed to the polls for yet another primary day on Tuesday, which also saw several high-profile runoffs that could provide tea leaves for the direction of the Republican Party.
Washington, D.C., and Virginia held their primaries amid growing concerns over crime and skyrocketing inflation. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) managed to fend off multiple challengers to secure a likely third term in office, while Republican candidates fought to see who would take on the vulnerable Democratic incumbents in two competitive Virginia districts.
In Georgia, meanwhile, Donald Trump’s influence was once again put to the test, while an ex-acolyte of the former president suffered a high-profile loss in a Senate runoff in Alabama.
Here are five takeaways from Tuesday’s primaries.
Trump dealt another whammy in Georgia
The former president had another bad night in the Peach State.
Emergency room doctor Rich McCormick won his Republican primary in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, defeating Trump-endorsed attorney Jake Evans.
Meanwhile, Mike Collins defeated former state Rep. Vernon Jones in a Republican primary runoff in the state’s 10th Congressional District. Jones, a former Democrat, jumped out of the state’s GOP gubernatorial primary after Trump promised to endorse him in the district. Collins, on the other hand, had the endorsement of Gov. Brian Kemp (R), a Trump foe, making the race a proxy war between the former president and governor.
Tuesday’s losses come hot on the heels of the Georgia GOP gubernatorial primary, where Kemp easily defeated former Sen. David Perdue, Trump’s chosen candidate.
Kemp earned Trump’s ire after the governor certified the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) has also faced Trump’s wrath. Raffensperger, who earlier Tuesday testified before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, survived a Trump-backed primary challenge last month.
Also on Tuesday, state Rep. Bee Nguyen won the Democratic nomination to take Raffensperger on in the general election. Nguyen will likely face an uphill climb against the Republican secretary of state, but Raffensperger will need to rally Trump’s ultra-conservative base in the general election.
A high-profile defeat for a hard-right Republican in Alabama
Senate candidate Katie Britt defeated Rep. Mo Brooks in Alabama’s GOP Senate primary runoff, signaling a defeat for the party’s far-right flank.
Britt, who previously served as Sen. Richard Shelby’s (R-Ala.) chief of staff, was endorsed by Trump earlier this month after Trump retracted his endorsement of Brooks.
Trump withdrew his endorsement for the congressman in March after Brooks said the GOP should move on from the 2020 election. Additionally, the congressman was one of several GOP lawmakers who were said to be subpoenaed by the House Jan. 6 committee.
“Mo Brooks of Alabama made a horrible mistake recently when he went ‘woke’ and stated, referring to the 2020 Presidential Election Scam, ‘Put that behind you, put that behind you,'” Trump said in his statement retracting his endorsement for Brooks.
However, there were rumblings that Trump was long disappointed in Brooks’s ability to fundraise and his standing in the polls.
The loss capped a surprising fall for Brooks, a founding member of the Freedom Caucus who was previously an ardent supporter of Trump.
Britt is heavily favored to win the state’s Senate race, which the non-partisan Cook Political Report has rated as “solid Republican.”
The GOP establishment scores key wins
Establishment Republicans saw victories in runoffs in Alabama and Georgia, a potential sign of Trump’s weakening grasp on the GOP.
In Georgia, Kemp-endorsed candidate Collins beat Trump’s favored candidate. Meanwhile, in Alabama, Britt, whom Shelby helped propel to victory, defeated ultra-conservative Brooks. While Trump did endorse Britt after revoking his endorsement for Brooks, his involvement was not seen as a particularly decisive factor in her victory.
However, the establishment victories do not necessarily mean that Trumpism is no longer a potent force. Britt enthusiastically touted Trump’s endorsement when she received it earlier this month. And Collins said at his election party that he hoped to work together with Trump going forward.
“I expect Donald Trump to call us because we’re gonna be friends together and we’re gonna move forward together, because that’s what the party is about,” Collins said.
DC voters stick mostly with the status quo
Bowser easily won her party’s primary, setting her up for a third term as mayor, despite multiple challengers and growing concerns in the district over rising crime and housing costs. Bowser benefited from a number of factors, including an incumbency advantage as well as a number of high-profile feuds with Trump during the pandemic.
Bowser defeated fellow Democrats Robert White, Trayon White and James Butler.
However, her win also represents another loss for progressives looking to take on establishment figures in her primary. Bowser largely stood by the Metropolitan Police Department in 2020 as calls to defund police departments mounted in the wake of the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Instead of reallocating any funding from the department, Bowser pushed for funding to expand the department.
Meanwhile, At-Large Councilwoman Anita Bonds appeared headed for a third term, while attorney general candidate Brian Schwalb, who had the endorsement of current officeholder Karl Racine, looked set to clinch victory in his race.
Another good night for GOP Latina candidates
A Republican Latina scored yet another victory on Tuesday with Yesli Vega’s victory in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.
Vega, a former police officer and Prince William County, Va. supervisor, defeated five other Republicans in the primary to challenge Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) in the district.
The Republican nominee invoked her Salvadoran roots in her victory speech on Tuesday.
“I am the proud daughter of Salvadoran immigrants, yes I am,” Vega said to cheers in Woodbridge, Va.
“You came to this country with nothing, but you realized your American dream and the Republican Party is still the party that defends life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” she continued.
Vega’s wins comes exactly a week after Rep. Mayra Flores (R) flipped Texas’s 34th Congressional District in a special election. Flores was sworn into office earlier on Tuesday.
Republicans have set their sights on recruiting more Latino candidates and making inroads with Latino voters. The party saw gains in Latino communities last election, particularly in South Texas and South Florida.
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