Five things to watch ahead of primaries in Arizona, Missouri and more
Correction: Voters in Kansas will decide today whether to amend the state’s constitution to say it doesn’t contain the right to an abortion. A previous version of this story included incorrect information.
Primaries and ballot initiatives are set to take place in a number of key states, setting the stage for the general election battle going into November’s midterms.
The proxy battle between former President Trump and establishment figures like former Vice President Mike Pence and Gov. Doug Ducey (R) continues in Arizona, while various House Republicans who voted to impeach the former president are facing their own primary challenges.
And in Kansas, voters will have the opportunity to make their voices heard on abortion rights for the first time since Roe v. Wade was overturned earlier this summer.
Here are five things we’re watching in Tuesday’s primaries.
Does Trump win big in Arizona?
The ongoing shadow war between President Trump and the Republican Party establishment faces its next big battle on Tuesday in the Grand Canyon State.
The GOP gubernatorial primary is most symbolic of this dynamic, with Trump-backed former broadcast journalist Kari Lake facing off against businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robson, whom Pence and Ducey have backed. The intraparty battle has showcased the GOP’s messaging debate, with Trump and Lake continuing to tout Trump’s unproven claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
Meanwhile, Robson has echoed messaging from Pence and Ducey that focuses on issues like the economy, the southern border wall and crime. Most recent polling shows Lake in the lead, though an Emerson College survey released on Sunday put Robson and Lake in a dead heat.
Another major test for Trump will come in the state’s Republican Senate primary, where a recent Emerson College poll shows Trump-endorsed venture capitalist Blake Masters with an 18-point lead over the rest of the GOP field.
Trump has also endorsed down-ballot candidates in the races for state attorney general, secretary of state and state Senate.
Do more Republicans who impeached Trump lose?
Voters are set to decide the political fates of three Republican House members who voted to impeach Trump for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, the latest tests of how willing GOP voters are to break with the former president.
In Michigan, first-term Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) is on the ballot facing a challenge from former Housing and Urban Development Secretary John Gibbs in the GOP primary in the state’s 3rd District. Trump has already endorsed Gibbs in that race.
Meanwhile, voters in two Washington state congressional districts will vote on whether to retain Republican Reps. Jaime Herrera Butler and Dan Newhouse.
Herrera Butler is facing eight opponents in Tuesday’s primary. But it’s Trump-endorsed Republican Joe Kent who poses perhaps the biggest threat to her political future. Similarly, Newhouse is up against seven opponents, including Republican Loren Culp, whom Trump is also backing.
Unlike in Michigan, though, Herrera Butler and Newhouse are facing all-party primaries, meaning they’re facing a less conservative electorate and may stand a better chance at winning the kind of broad support they’ll need to move forward.
However, things may be tougher for Meijer, who’s facing a primarily Republican electorate.
Does establishment GOP shut out Greitens?
Despite resigning as governor in 2018 amid scandal, former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens dominated polling in the GOP primary to succeed retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) for much of the past year.
But the outlook for Greitens has changed in recent weeks, as his Republican critics launched an all-out effort to weaken him ahead of the Aug. 2 primary. One group, Show Me Values PAC, has blanketed airwaves with ads highlighting some of the controversies surrounding Greitens, including allegations of domestic violence. In turn, he’s sunk into third place in most recent polls.
But Greitens remains competitive, and a loss on Tuesday is far from guaranteed. While his main opponents, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), have gained ground in recent weeks, Greitens is still scoring double-digits in polling and has the backing of influential Trump allies, including Donald Trump Jr. and his fiance Kimberly Guilfoyle.
If Greitens clinches the nomination on Tuesday, his GOP critics fear that the Senate race in Missouri could become significantly more competitive, despite the state’s Republican tilt. And while any Democrat would have an uphill battle in the general election, the race could force Republicans to defend an otherwise safe Senate seat at a time when they’d rather focus their resources elsewhere.
Do Kansans rebuke Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision?
Kansas is poised to make a historic decision on Tuesday, when the state’s voters will become the first in the nation to make a decision on abortion rights at the ballot box since the Supreme Court overturned the precedent set by Roe v. Wade in June.
On the ballot is a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would add language saying it doesn’t grant the right to abortion. This would effectively reverse a state Supreme Court decision from 2019 and put access to the procedure in the hands of the state’s Republican-controlled legislature.
While the proposed amendment — dubbed Amendment Two — has been more than a year in the making, it’s taken on greater significance in recent months, given the still-raging fight over abortion rights that has swept the nation since a draft of the Supreme Court’s decision was leaked earlier this year.
Consequently, groups on both sides of the issue have spent heavily on advertising seeking to move the needle ahead of the Aug. 2 vote. And it appears that the vote could go either way: recent polling from the Kansas City-based firm Co/efficient showed that 47 percent of Kansans planned to vote in favor of the proposed amendment, compared to 43 percent who said they will vote no. Still, 10 percent remained undecided.
How does messy Michigan GOP governor primary end?
For all the ire that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has drawn from Republicans, the GOP’s primary field has been anything but unified.
For months, the Republican nominating contest has been mired in chaos.
The party’s two strongest candidates were removed from the ballot earlier this year after submitting nominating petitions that included what election officials said were thousands of forged signatures.
Another candidate, Ryan Kelley, is still facing misdemeanor charges related to the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. And one more candidate, Kevin Rinke, has come under fire for decades-old lawsuits alleging that he made made sexual and racist comments to employees.
On Friday, Trump himself finally weighed in on the primary, endorsing former conservative media personality Tudor Dixon for the nomination. Even before that endorsement, however, polling showed Dixon leading the Republican pack.
Still, the question remains whether the chaotic and messy primary will hamper Republicans heading into the general election and potentially cost them a shot at one of their highest-profile gubernatorial targets.
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