Governor races in spotlight as Wyoming, Alaska head to polls

Governor races in spotlight as Wyoming, Alaska head to polls

Primary races for governor are taking the spotlight on Tuesday as voters in Wyoming and Alaska head to the polls in the two red states.

In Wyoming, multimillionaire Republican donor Foster Friess is vying for his party’s nomination to succeed term-limited Gov. Matt Mead (R), while both Democrats and Republicans will be holding primaries in Alaska to take on Gov. Bill Walker, a former Republican who has been an independent since 2014 and who has decided to run for reelection. 

There will also be House primaries with two Democrats — Travis Helm and Greg Hunter — competing in Wyoming for the right to challenge Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyRepublican office in Wyoming catches fire: report Election Countdown: Trump plans ambitious travel schedule for midterms | Republicans blast strategy for keeping House | Poll shows Menendez race tightening | Cook Report shifts Duncan Hunter's seat after indictment Consultant secures Democratic nomination in Wyoming House race MORE (R) in November.

Wyoming will also hold a GOP Senate primary between incumbent Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoTrump privately calls Mattis ‘Moderate Dog’: report Push to change wildlife act sparks lobbying blitz House and Senate negotiators reach agreement on water infrastructure bill MORE and first-time candidate Dave Dodson, a businessman who has pumped more than $1 million into his own campaign.

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Here are the key races to watch on Tuesday:

Longtime GOP donor seeks party nod for Wyoming governor

Friess, a wealthy donor to conservative causes and candidates, is locked in a dead heat with Wyoming state Treasurer Mark Gordon in the state’s GOP gubernatorial primary. 

A recent poll showed Friess leading by only 1 point over Gordon — well within the survey’s margin of error of 2.35 percentage points. Four other GOP contenders are running well behind Friess and Gordon, the poll showed.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE has yet to make an endorsement in the race. But Friess scored the backing of the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpDershowitz: Trump's lawyers could force Rosenstein to recuse himself from Mueller probe On The Money: Trump signs first 2019 'minibus' spending package | Mueller probing transactions by Russian organizers of Trump Tower meeting | Stocks brush off trade fears Trump Jr. slams Rosenstein report: 'No one is shocked' MORE, earlier this month, and has often talked up his connections to Trump administration officials, including Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoRosenstein report gives GOP new ammo against DOJ Pompeo rejects ‘good cop, bad cop’ characterization of Russia strategy Pompeo: 'Enormous mistake' for Iran to blame US, allies for attack on military parade MORE and Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeZinke must change direction and support conservation Energy development will likely land one bird on the Endangered Species list Montana lawmakers cheer recommendation to ban mining north of Yellowstone MORE.

Meanwhile, the Democratic primary will feature four candidates, including former state Rep. Mary Throne, though whoever wins will be seen as a long shot to win in November in the deep-red state. 

Alaska gubernatorial primaries to set the stage for 3-way race in November

A crowded field of Republicans are duking it out to challenge Walker in the general election in November.

The GOP race is seen as likely to come down to either former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy or former Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell.

Meanwhile, in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, former Sen. Mark BegichMark Peter BegichElection Countdown: Trump plans ambitious travel schedule for midterms | Republicans blast strategy for keeping House | Poll shows Menendez race tightening | Cook Report shifts Duncan Hunter's seat after indictment The Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s legal jeopardy mounts after Manafort, Cohen felony counts Dunleavy, Begich win party nods in 3-way race for Alaska governor MORE (D-Alaska), who left office in early 2015, has the nomination virtually stitched up.

Walker, who first won the governor’s mansion in 2014, initially planned to enter the Democratic primary as part of his reelection bid.

But after Begich announced in June that he would seek to replace Walker, the governor opted instead to gather signatures to appear on the ballot as an independent in November.

That will likely set a three-way race in November between Walker, Begich and the GOP winner on Tuesday. 

Trump-endorsed Barrasso looks to edge out primary challenger

The Republican Senate primary in Wyoming will be the latest test of Trump’s endorsing power.

Barrasso, who has been in the Senate since 2008, faces a significant challenge from businessman Dave Dodson, a political newcomer who touts himself as a “common sense Reagan Republican.”

But Barrasso has what appears to be a major advantage in the primary: an endorsement from Trump. That’s likely to carry a lot of weight in a state that gave the president his largest margin of victory of any state in 2016.

Dodson is campaigning as a political outsider with a “Plan to Put Wyoming First” — a mantra reminiscent of Trump’s “America First” agenda. He has lagged behind Barrasso in fundraising, but has already pumped more than $1 million into his own campaign.

Tuesday’s winner will go on to face businessman Gary Trauner, who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Dems vying to challenge Cheney

Helm, an immigration attorney who was previously a Republican, and geologist Hunter are facing each other in the Democratic primary for Wyoming’s at-large House seat. The eventual winner will go up against Cheney in November.

Cheney, the eldest daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, was first elected to the House in 2016 and is seeking a second term in Washington.

While she’s facing challengers in the state’s GOP House primary on Tuesday, she’s expected to easily secure the Republican nomination.

Wyoming is among the deepest-red states in the country, and voters in the state haven’t elected a Democrat to the House since 1976, meaning that Cheney isn’t likely to face a significant challenge in the general election.