Five takeaways from primaries in Wisconsin, Minnesota and beyond
Tuesday’s primaries in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont and Connecticut saw victories for Trump-endorsed candidates in the GOP, wins for progressives on the Democratic side of the aisle and a few history-making moments as well.
Former President Trump and progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) touted their endorsed candidates’ victories, while Democrats in Vermont put the state on track to send its first female representative to Capitol Hill.
Here are five takeaways from Tuesday’s primaries.
A good night for Trump-backed candidates
Trump saw a number of victories on Tuesday, marking a second successful week in a row for the power of his endorsement.
In Wisconsin, Trump-endorsed businessman Tim Michels defeated his GOP gubernatorial primary opponent, former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who had the backing of former Vice President Mike Pence. If he wins, Michels will take on incumbent Gov. Tony Evers (D), who is thought to be one of the most vulnerable Democratic governors going into November’s midterms.
Meanwhile, in Vermont, retired Army officer Gerald Malloy was projected to win the state’s GOP Senate primary. And in Connecticut’s Republican Senate primary, Trump-backed Leora Levy handily won her primary by roughly 10 points. However, both will likely face uphill battles in the two New England liberal strongholds.
Tuesday night’s results were reminiscent of last week’s primaries in states like Arizona, where Trump’s favored candidates also did well. Wisconsin, for example, was yet another example of Trump winning out over the GOP establishment, much like he did in the Grand Canyon State, where Trump-backed Kari Lake defeated Karrin Taylor Robson in the gubernatorial primary.
But the ultimate test of Trump’s endorsement will come in the general election, when his endorsed candidates will be tasked with winning over swing voters.
Another pro-impeachment Republican goes down
One of the biggest political developments happened not in the states holding primaries Tuesday night, but rather in Washington, which held its primaries last week.
Incumbent Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R), who represents Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, conceded in her primary race against former Green Beret Joe Kent on Tuesday, marking yet another loss for a House Republican who voted to impeach Trump.
Herrera Beutler’s defeat comes one week after fellow Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse (R), who also voted to impeach Trump, managed to survive his primary. However, Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer, another pro-impeachment Republican, lost his primary last week.
In her concession statement, Herrera Beutler said she was proud of what she and her team accomplished during her tenure.
“I’m proud that I always told the truth, stuck to my principles, and did what I knew to be best for our country,” she said.
Trump, on the other hand, celebrated Kent’s win and criticized Herrera Beutler in his own statement.
“Joe Kent just won an incredible race against all odds in Washington State. Importantly, he knocked out yet another impeacher, Jaime Herrera Beutler, who so stupidly played right into the hands of the Democrats,” Trump said.
Kent will likely face a relatively easily general election, with the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rating the district as “solid Republican.”
Vermont poised to make history
Vermont is set to send the first female and openly gay lawmaker to represent the state on Capitol Hill after the state’s president pro tempore, Becca Balint, won the Democratic primary for the at-large House seat on Tuesday.
Balint defeated Lt. Gov. Molly Gray to represent the seat currently held by Rep. Peter Welch (D), who is running for Senate.
“We proved them wrong. I was the long shot. I was the underdog,” Balint told her supporters at an election night party, according to Seven Days. “But this campaign wasn’t built on connections. It was built on relationships.”
Balint is heavily favored to win the general election in the deep-blue state going into November,
Bernie Sanders scores a win
Balint’s win also represented a high-profile victory for Sanders, who backed her in the primary.
“She will be a fighter for working people, and I look forward to serving with her in Washington,” Sanders, a leading progressive, said in a statement.
“In this next Congress, we could see the strongest progressive presence in a long time. Alongside Becca, I know that new members like Greg Casar, Summer Lee, Jonathan Jackson, and Delia Ramirez will all be fighters for a bold progressive agenda,” he added, citing other successful progressive candidates.
Her win brings much-needed relief to progressives, who have experienced a number of primary losses this midterm cycle, including former Texas House candidate Jessica Cisneros, former Missouri Senate candidate Lucas Kunce and former Ohio House candidate Nina Turner.
A surprise nail-biter for a high-profile ‘squad’ member
In one of the biggest surprises of the night, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a member of the progressive “squad” on Capitol Hill, just barely won her primary against former Minneapolis City Councilman Don Samuels.
While Omar had the backing of progressive leaders like Sanders and had an incumbent’s advantage, she only led Samuels by just over 2 points with more than 96 percent of the vote in.
Samuels conceded on Tuesday evening and pledged his support for Omar in the general election.
“The will of the people is the will of the people. Part of the effort to reach out to people, to talk to them on the phone, to go to their doors, to go to events, is out of deference for their decision-making freedom,” Samuels told the Sahan Journal. “To then violate that trust in people’s wisdom and not celebrate their decision, would be inconsistent with the democratic process.”
Samuels, who is a moderate Democrat, campaigned heavily on combating violent crime as progressives like Omar embraced the “defund the police” movement. The primary could serve as a warning sign for progressives going into the general election as Republicans seek to make combating crime a centerpiece of their campaign messaging.