Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Kentucky, Idaho and Oregon primaries
By Maureen Chowdhury, Mike Hayes, Ji Min Lee and Meg Wagner, CNN
Updated 8:47 a.m. ET, May 18, 2022
9:51 p.m. ET, May 17, 2022
Budd won't answer question about his refusal to acknowledge President Biden's victory in 2020
From CNN's Eva McKend
Speaking to reporters following his decisive victory in North Carolina’s Senate Republican primary, Congressman Ted Budd batted away a question about his refusal to acknowledge President Biden won the 2020 election. CNN asked if this denial of Biden‘s victory would be a liability for him in the general election when he has to appeal to more voters, to which Budd responded, ”You tend to focus on that. I’ve answered that many times.”
Budd was among the more than 100 House Republicans who voted not to certify some of the 2020 presidential election results.
Budd added he won’t employ a different strategy than he did in the primary contest and will run the same campaign focused on combating inflation and stopping illegal immigration because the “America First” agenda is popular.
When asked by a reporter how much he credits former President Trump for his victory tonight, he thanked the former president.
9:45 p.m. ET, May 17, 2022
McCormick says he feels good — but knows it's still early
From CNN's Kristen Holmes
David McCormick, who just arrived at his election night watch party, tells CNN he feels good about the results but knows it's still early.
An adviser to McCormick describes the campaign as feeling "cautiously optimistic" with the early results but expects it to be a long night. This adviser said they are leaning into the idea that people want someone like McCormick who is “battle tested and controlled.”
McCormick is vying for the GOP Senate nomination in Pennsylvania against TV doctor Mehmet Oz (who Trump endorsed) and conservative activist Kathy Barnette. Strategists admit any one of three candidates could win.
CNN has not yet projected a winner on the GOP side, but in the Democratic primary, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman will win the nomination, CNN projects.
9:37 p.m. ET, May 17, 2022
With eye toward the general election, Budd blasts "Biden-Beasley" agenda
From CNN's Eva McKend
With an eye towards taking back the US Senate, Rep. Ted Budd, the victor in tonight’s Senate Republican primary in North Carolina, told supporters, “We need to pull together and look to the race in November.”
He said the Republican candidates took a unity pledge to support the eventual nominee.
Budd wasted no time blasting the Democratic nominee. “Cheri Beasley is the most radical liberal candidate to ever run for Senate in North Carolina,” he said, going on to slam the “Biden-Beasley lawless open border agenda.”
In her victory speech, Beasley also criticized Budd.
“My opponent in this election has made it clear that he will not put North Carolina first. He will not fight for what we need and want, and will always put his own ambitions and the corporate special interests funding his campaign over the people of this state,” she said.
9:28 p.m. ET, May 17, 2022
Barnette's "electability" argument facing big test
From CNN's Athena Jones
As results roll in, it is unclear at this point whether voters buy Kathy Barnette's argument that she is electable or whether attack ads in recent days have wounded her campaign irreparably.
She is still at her election night headquarters greeting supporters and posing for pictures, though her campaign manager tells me she is expected to head elsewhere to watch the returns in private.
Barnette has in recent days addressed concerns she is too extreme to win a general election.
In her last official event before Election Day, Barnette took on the electability argument, saying she lost her congressional race by 19 points in her D+9 district, while Trump lost by more than 26 points in the same area and that she outperformed any other Republican running in that area, saying she was able to attract more voters than Trump: “So when you want to talk about electability, I think that’s a really good sign that I’m able to get people that Donald Trump was not able to get.”
Barnette also said she ran a better campaign than her rivals and "they're mad."
11:08 p.m. ET, May 17, 2022
Trump allies begin distancing themselves from Cawthorn
From CNN's Gabby Orr
Allies of former President Donald Trump are already distancing themselves from incumbent Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who is fighting an uphill battle against state Sen. Chuck Edwards in his primary for North Carolina's 11th Congressional District.
Just days after Trump publicly encouraged Republican voters to stand by the scandal-plagued freshman congressman, one adviser to the former President said a loss for Cawthorn "will be entirely his own fault."
"He wasn't ready for primetime, and I think that became abundantly clear over the last few months," the adviser said.
"100% about scandals," said another former Trump aide Tuesday night.
Another Trump ally said Cawthorn put himself in a vulnerable spot when he made a provocative claim about his Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill, telling a podcast host in March that he had been invited to orgies and seen politicians using cocaine. That, this ally said, left Cawthorn "on an island all alone."
Trump attempted to come to Cawthorn's rescue earlier this week as the young Republican incumbent was plunged further into scandal. In a post shared to his Truth Social platform, the former President asked North Carolina voters to give Cawthorn a "second chance."
9:14 p.m. ET, May 17, 2022
Cawthorn spokesperson says they're confident, but "obviously this is not where we want to be right now"
From CNN's Dianne Gallagher, Manu Raju and Morgan Rimmer
Rep. Madison Cawthorn is falling behind state Sen. Chuck Edwards as early voting totals are coming in North Carolina.
Cawthorn spokesperson, Luke Ball, acknowledged that this “obviously this is not where we want to be right now” but insists the campaign is not worried and confident that things are going to change as more votes come in.
Ball told me that they are waiting for Election Day totals and especially waiting for the far western counties of the district to come in.
He noted they were greatly outspent in mail vote campaigning.
Edwards is pulling ahead in Cawthorn’s home of Henderson County. It is one of the counties that Edwards represents in the state Senate.
House Republicans reacted to Cawthorn falling behind in his race, telling CNN he made too many mistakes as a rookie member.
“He’s got lots of burdens, and I think that — I don’t think he was ready for Congress,” said Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina.
Rep. Don Bacon told CNN: “There was four or five different incidences that I think hurt him, and I don’t wish him harm but I think this is best for the district.”
Bacon added, “He’s always been decent with me but I think he just stepped on too many landmines and the district decided to elect someone else.”
9:11 p.m. ET, May 17, 2022
Biden adviser comfortable with Republicans co-opting "ultra-MAGA" moniker
From CNN's Dan Merica
After President Biden described the Republican Party’s plans as the “ultra-MAGA agenda” during a speech in May, Republicans co-opted the message and several used it to describe the rise of conservative candidate Kathy Barnette.
"I keep telling folks that President Trump is not nearly as politically right as parts of this populist movement Kathy Barnette is a manifestation of that,” former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said on his podcast, a forum that was a staple for Barnette in the final days of the campaign. “It's MAGA vs. ultra MAGA in Pennsylvania.”
A Biden adviser said Tuesday that they view Republican co-opting the message as good for Democrats because it helps them create a clearer contrast in the general election.
“I don't think it's backfired,” the adviser said. “I think it's good for voters to know who these people are and it's good for voters to lean into what they stand for and what they don't stand for.”
“The Republicans that are running, let's say in Pennsylvania, those are not Toomey Republicans,” the adviser added, referring to the retiring Republican senator. “They are just not. So, voters are going to have to make some big choices."
9:16 p.m. ET, May 17, 2022
CNN Projection: John Fetterman will win Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate primary
From CNN's Ethan Cohen and Melissa Holzberg DePalo
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman will win the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary, CNN projects.
Fetterman was facing off against US Rep. Conor Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta.
Fetterman, a six-foot-eight, tattooed former mayor who lives in an old car dealership and has a habit of wearing basketball shorts in the snow, appeared to have the upper hand against the more moderate (politically and stylistically) Lamb.
Some Democrats worry that Fetterman’s progressive politics will make it harder for them to flip the open seat, but others say his populist bent could help win back voters they’ve lost in the Trump era.
Fetterman’s win caps a bizarre final few days for the lieutenant governor, who checked into a hospital in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on Friday and was found to have had a stroke. Fetterman has been in the hospital ever since and while the candidate said he was “on my way to a full recovery' on Sunday, he underwent a nearly three-hour surgery on Tuesday to impact him with a pacemaker that includes a defibrillator.
While the hospital stay injected a level of uncertainty into the race, Fetterman had long been the frontrunner in the race, holding a steady polling lead over Rep. Conor Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta.
And nearly all Pennsylvania Democratic voters CNN spoke to in the final days of the campaign — including when Fetterman was in the hospital — said the stroke would not change their vote.
For the lieutenant governor, who lost in the primary when he ran for Senate in 2016, the win is the cap on a high-profile rise from small town mayor to statewide elected official. Fetterman served as mayor of Braddock, a small town near Pittsburgh, from 2006 to 2019, a role that elevated him as Democrats have struggled to win blue collar voters.
8:47 p.m. ET, May 17, 2022
With Democratic primaries underway, White House officials are watching closely
From CNN's Kaitlan Collins
White House officials are watching tonight’s primary election results closely, knowing that for as much focus as there has been on former President Trump, the races will also serve as a test of President Biden’s influence and could potentially say a lot about the direction of the Democratic Party.
Though some of the President’s aides have downplayed whether they serve as a referendum on his leadership of the party, several officials acknowledge that tonight will reveal the mood of Democratic voters and show what kind of Democratic candidate can get elected.
In Pennsylvania, considered one of the Democrats’ best opportunities to pick up a Senate seat, Biden loyalist Rep. Conor Lamb has struggled to keep up with Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in the polls despite styling himself after Biden as an electable centrist. Meanwhile, Fetterman has pledged to be “a different kind of Democrat, candidate, campaign taking on every politician.”
Aides are also looking closely at Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, where the Biden-endorsed candidate Rep. Kurt Schrader is also facing a tough night against Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who has harshly criticized the Democratic Party and bluntly said Biden made the wrong decision in his endorsement, though she has pledged to support his agenda.