Kansas voters handed abortion-rights advocates a massive victory Tuesday, surging to the polls to defeat a measure that would have allowed the GOP-led legislature to impose new restrictions.
The vote in Kansas was one of the first tests of the potency of abortion rights at the ballot box since the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Roe v. Wade and end the federal protection of abortion access.
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Meanwhile, in Michigan, one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump was ousted, while the matchup was set for what will be one of the key gubernatorial races this fall. And in Missouri, the political comeback of a former governor was shut down.
In Arizona, local elections officials were still counting votes, but some of the slate of statewide candidates who were endorsed by former President Donald Trump and promoted his lies about election fraud won their Republican primaries, CNN projects.
Here are six takeaways from Tuesday night’s primaries:
Kansas maintains constitutional right to abortion
Kansas voters sent a dramatic message on Tuesday, opting to maintain the right to an abortion in their state’s constitution just weeks after the US Supreme Court decided to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Polls have long shown that voters overwhelmingly support protecting abortions rights. But the win for the “no” vote in Kansas is proof of that and signals that the Supreme Court decision has further angered voters and possibly shifted the politics of the issue ahead of the November elections.
The “no” leaves the state constitution unchanged. While lawmakers in the state can still try to pass restrictive abortion laws, courts in Kansas have recognized a right to abortion under the state constitution.
The biggest warning to Republicans, many of whom have trumpeted the overturning of Roe and backed pushes to pass stricter abortions laws, is perhaps the turnout in Kansas. With 78% of the vote in on Tuesday night, nearly 700,000 people have cast ballots in the primary, a figure that already dwarfs the turnout in the 2020 presidential primary election.
“This is further proof of what poll after poll has told us: Americans support abortion rights,” said Christina Reynolds, a top operative for Emily’s List, an organization that looks to elect women who support abortion rights. “They believe we should be able to make our own health care decisions, and they will vote accordingly, even in the face of misleading campaigns.”
A member of the ‘impeachment 10’ is defeated
Rep. Peter Meijer became the second of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump to be ousted in a primary Tuesday, losing to Trump-endorsed conservative challenger John Gibbs, CNN projected.
Democrats played a role in boosting Gibbs – a calculated decision that has become a flashpoint, angering some Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans.
Meijer, a freshman, voted to impeach Trump just days after taking office, after the insurrection of January 6, 2021. Gibbs, meanwhile, backed Trump’s lies about widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
Meijer’s loss means the Grand Rapids-based 3rd District seat will be one of the most competitive House contests in November’s midterm elections.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, eyeing the seat as a possible pick-up opportunity, spent more than $300,000 on television ads seeking to bolster Gibbs with pro-Trump GOP primary voters by portraying him as a Trump-aligned conservative.
In Washington, two more Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse, were attempting to survive their own primaries. The state’s open, non-partisan primary system in which the top two finishers regardless of party advance to November’s general election made them more difficult targets for Trump and his supporters.
Unknowns in Arizona
Arizona’s race for the Republican nomination for governor could depend on whether Trump’s supporters turned out in force on election day in a state that conducts its contests largely by mail.
Karrin Taylor Robson, a former member of the Arizona Board of Regents who is backed by former Vice President Mike Pence and outgoing Gov. Doug Ducey, led former television journalist Kari Lake, a Trump-endorsed election denier, in the early returns Wednesday morning.
But the early results were largely mail-in ballots. Votes cast on election day were expected to favor Lake – a result of Trump’s years-long effort to undermine faith in mail-in voting.
The Arizona gubernatorial primary was the most significant contest in a set of primaries that tested Trump’s influence over the GOP.
If Trump’s slate of statewide candidates in Arizona advances to the general election, they’d be positioned to take over the election machinery of one of the nation’s most important presidential battleground states if they win in November.
Blake Masters, the venture capitalist endorsed by Trump and backed by millions in spending from GOP megadonor Peter Thiel, won the state’s GOP primary to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, CNN projects.
State Rep. Mark Finchem, a Trump-endorsed “Stop the Steal” activist who has said the state legislature should be able to overturn voters’ will in presidential elections, won the GOP primary for secretary of state, CNN projects. Democrats saw a tight race between Maricopa County recorder Adrian Fontes and state Rep. Reginald Bolding.
And in the attorney general’s race, Trump’s preferred candidate, election denier Abraham Hamadeh, won the Republican nomination, CNN projects.
There was also one person who had defied Trump and his election lies ousted on Tuesday, according to a CNN projection: Rusty Bowers, the Arizona House speaker. Bowers testified in June about the pressure he faced to overturn the state’s 2020 election results from Trump and others. In return, he was censured by his party, called “unfit to serve” – and now has lost his primary for a state Senate seat.
Greitens’ attempted comeback falls flat
Republicans in Missouri breathed a sigh of relief after state Attorney General Eric Schmitt won the wide-open Senate primary, according to a CNN projection.
Perhaps more significant than who won, though, in the deep-red state, is who lost: disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens, who was attempting a political comeback. Greitens resigned in 2018 amid a sex scandal and accusation of campaign misconduct, and subsequently faced abuse allegations from his ex-wife, which he has denied
Schmitt, the attorney general, emerged from a crowded field that included two members of Congress, Reps. Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long.
Trump stayed out of the race, issuing a tongue-in-cheek statement supporting “Eric” on the eve of the primary – leaving it up to voters’ interpretation whether that meant Schmitt or Greitens.
Dixon victory in Michigan governor’s race sets up referendum on Covid policies
Tudor Dixon, the conservative commentator endorsed by Trump in the final days of the race and backed by large factions of the Michigan Republican establishment, won the state’s GOP primary to take on Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, CNN projected.
The clash in Michigan could be one of the nation’s most competitive governor’s races.
Whitmer has cast herself as a bulwark for abortion rights in a state where Republicans have sought to enforce a 1931 law that would impose a near-total ban on abortion.
Dixon, meanwhile, framed the race in her victory speech Tuesday night as a referendum on restrictions Whitmer imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dixon, a mother of four who is backed by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s family, is also an advocate of school choice — potentially positioning education as a marquee issue in November’s midterm election.
Progressives suffer another defeat in Michigan
Rep. Haley Stevens’ projected Democratic primary victory in Michigan’s newly drawn 11th Congressional District over fellow Rep. Andy Levin marks another blow against progressives in what has been a mostly disappointing primary season.
It’s also a resounding victory for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, and its super PAC, United Democracy Project, which has spent millions backing moderate, more staunchly pro-Israel candidates in Democratic primaries.
Stevens and Levin are both supportive of Israel, but Levin – who is Jewish – has been more willing to criticize its government’s treatment of Palestinians and is the lead sponsor of the Two-State Solution Act.
Progressive Democrats, frequently targeted by AIPAC spending this primary season, have fumed at fellow Democrats for accepting or courting support from the group, which has also contributed to Republican election deniers. AIPAC has defended the practice, arguing that its policy goals need bipartisan support.
J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group that has clashed with AIPAC, tried to boost Levin with a $700,000 July ad buy, but that sum paled in comparison to the millions bundled by AIPAC and more than $4 million spend by UDP.