Republican primary voters in Colorado resoundingly rejected Donald Trump’s brand of politics Tuesday, choosing more moderate nominees for key offices over a group of candidates that had embraced the former President’s lies about election fraud.
In Illinois, however, GOP voters sided with Trump, choosing the conservative state senator he had endorsed as their nominee to take on Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker and picking Trump’s preferred candidate in a down-state congressional contest.
Colorado, Illinois, New York, Oklahoma and Utah held primary elections Tuesday. Mississippi and South Carolina held runoff elections, while Nebraska held a special election to replace former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, which was won by Republican Mike Flood.
Here are some takeaways from Tuesday’s elections:
Colorado’s election deniers are denied by GOP voters
Many Republicans in Colorado were aghast at the prospect of Tina Peters, the indicted Mesa County clerk who has parroted Trump’s falsehoods about voter fraud, taking over the state’s elections machinery. On Tuesday, those GOP voters rejected Peters’ bid to take on Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold. Instead, they nominated Pam Anderson, a former county clerk who has defended the integrity of Colorado’s vote-by-mail system.
It was one of several races in which Colorado Republicans opted for more moderate candidates over those who have embraced Trump’s election lies and staked out conservative positions on social issues.
In the primary to take on Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, businessman Joe O’Dea, who supports abortion rights aside from late-term abortions, defeated state Rep. Ron Hanks, who opposes abortion in all cases. Hanks was at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, but told CNN he didn’t go inside, and has parroted false conspiracy theories about voting machines and widespread election fraud.
And in the primary for governor, to square off against Democratic Gov. Jared Polis in November, Heidi Ganahl, a member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents, defeated Greg Lopez, the former Parker mayor who falsely claimed that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.
But Illinois embraced Trump’s candidates
It was a much different story in Illinois, another Democratic-leaning state where Republicans hope that economic and historical factors tilting in their favor this year will lead to surprises in November.
Darren Bailey, a conservative state senator who was endorsed by Trump and backed by billionaire Republican donor Dick Uihlein, won the gubernatorial primary.
“Darren is just the man to take on and defeat one of the worst governors in America,” the former President said at a rally over the weekend.
Bailey, in a debate, called Chicago a “crime-ridden, corrupt, dysfunctional hellhole,” though he is seeking to become governor of the state for which Chicago is the economic center. In the state legislature in 2019, he sponsored a resolution that would separate Chicago from the rest of Illinois; as a candidate for governor, he has backed away from that position.
Meanwhile, in the 15th Congressional District, where incumbent Reps. Mary Miller and Rodney Davis were drawn into the same district last year, Miller prevailed.
Miller, a controversial first-term lawmaker, voted to object to the 2020 Electoral College results in Pennsylvania and Arizona and received Trump’s endorsement despite pushback from House GOP leadership.
Miller, in a speech alongside the former President over the weekend, declared the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade a “victory for White life.” (A spokesperson claimed she had misspoken and meant to say “right to life.”)
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