Five takeaways from races in Colorado, Illinois, New York and more
Tuesday’s primaries and runoffs saw the downfall of at least three House incumbents, as well as the limits of top Republicans and Democrats to sway the results of key primary races.
In Colorado, more moderate Republicans beat out candidates who cast themselves as staunch allies of former President Trump in a handful of statewide GOP primaries, though the former president still managed to notch crucial victories in Illinois.
Meanwhile, establishment Democrats in New York cruised to victory over progressive challengers.
Here are five takeaways from Tuesday’s primaries and runoffs.
Democratic meddling in GOP primaries delivers uneven results
Ahead of Tuesday’s primaries, Democrats made clear what kind of Republicans they hoped to run against in November, pouring money into ads boosting far-right candidates with shaky general election prospects.
That strategy ultimately paid off in the GOP primary for Illinois governor, where Trump’s endorsed candidate, state Sen. Darren Bailey, notched a win over a more moderate Republican, former Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin.
Still, it wasn’t an across-the-board success for Democrats.
In Colorado, Republican Heidi Ganahl beat out Greg Lopez in the GOP gubernatorial primary despite Democratic-aligned groups spending big to tout Lopez’s conservative credentials.
The same is true in the Colorado GOP Senate primary, where Democrats were hoping to boost conservative state Rep. Ron Hanks over businessman Joe O’Dea, a more moderate Republican. O’Dea ultimately clinched the nomination to take on Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).
Democrats still have the incumbent advantage in both the Colorado Senate and gubernatorial race. But the failed efforts to lift up hard-line conservatives in the primaries show the limits of money in politics.
Mixed night for incumbents
A handful of incumbents pulled off wins on Tuesday night, overcoming intraparty efforts to end their time in public office.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul easily beat out progressive New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Rep. Tom Suozzi in the state’s Democratic primary, putting herself on track to win her first full term in the governor’s mansion, while Rep. Michael Guest (R-Miss.), who ran afoul of Trump when he voted to establish an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, won a runoff after finishing second in the June 7 primary.
On the other hand, Rep. Steven Palazzo was ousted by Mike Ezell in the GOP runoff to represent Mississippi’s 4th District.
And in Illinois, Rep. Marie Newman lost the Democratic primary to fellow incumbent Rep. Sean Casten, despite running for reelection in a district where her constituents outnumbered those of her opponent.
Republican who ran afoul of MAGA pulls off a surprise win
In Mississippi, Guest angered Trump and his most ardent supporters last year when he voted to create an independent commission to look into the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
His days in Congress appeared numbered earlier this month when he finished in second place behind fellow Republican Michael Cassidy.
But Cassidy faced problems of his own heading into the runoff, including criticism over his past support for a universal health insurance program that would allow all Americans to enroll in Medicare. While Cassidy sought to distance himself from that position, it wasn’t enough to get him over the finish line on Tuesday.
Trump never endorsed in the race, and the independent commission that Guest voted for never came to fruition. Still, his victory on Tuesday is an example of how Republicans who crossed the former president still have a shot at political survival, even in a deep-red state like Mississippi.
Progressive women come up short in high-profile races
Despite an outpouring of anger following the overturning of Roe v. Wade last week, progressives hit a roadblock on Tuesday, with several of their high-profile female candidates falling short in races in Illinois and New York.
Newman, who ousted a conservative Democrat, former Rep. Dan Lipinski, in a 2020 primary, lost to Casten in Illinois’s 6th District, while progressive Ana Maria Archila lost her bid to oust Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado in New York. Archila was aligned with Williams on the gubernatorial ticket.
And while the race remains too close to call for now, activist Kina Collins is trailing Rep. Danny Davis (D) in Illinois’s 7th District despite outraising and outspending the longtime incumbent throughout the primary.
Collins could still pull off a win. But even if she doesn’t, the race is far closer now than it was two years ago during her first bid to oust Davis, when she finished more than 45 percentage points behind the 13-term congressman.
Republican establishment dealt a blow in Illinois
Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) was in line to chair the House Administration Committee should Republicans recapture the majority in November.
But on Tuesday, his leadership ambitions were dealt a blow when he was defeated by fellow Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.).
Miller, who had the endorsement of Trump, won her primary on Tuesday by running to the right of Davis. Not only did she tout Trump’s support, but she repeatedly talked up her vote against certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election, bolstering her credentials as an unabashed ally of the former president.
While Davis was by no means a Trump critic — he served as co-chair of the former president’s reelection campaign in Illinois — his loss on Tuesday is seen as a blow to a congressman who was once on track to hold a key position in a burgeoning Republican House majority.
Along with Irvin’s high-profile defeat in the state’s gubernatorial primary, his loss represents a major setback for the GOP establishment in Illinois.