Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont, and Connecticut primaries

By Elise Hammond, Maureen Chowdhury, Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 3:31 p.m. ET, August 10, 2022
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11:22 p.m. ET, August 9, 2022

CNN Projection: Becca Balint will win Democratic nomination for Vermont’s at-large House seat 

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Becca Balint.
Becca Balint. (Wilson Ring/AP)

Becca Balint will win the Democratic nomination for Vermont’s lone House seat, CNN projects, putting her on a path to become the first woman to represent the state in Congress.

Vermont is the only state in the country that has never had a woman in its congressional delegation, so Balint would make history if elected in November. The candidate, a former schoolteacher currently serving as the president pro tempore in the state Senate, defeated Lt. Gov. Molly Gray and physician Louis Meyers.

CNN projects the candidate will face Republican nominee Liam Madden in the general election, where Balint is the overwhelming favorite to fill the seat of Rep. Peter Welch, who is running to replace retiring Sen. Patrick Leahy in the Senate.

Balint entered primary day with the support of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and other leading progressive politicians and groups. She got a boost during the campaign when state Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale dropped out and endorsed her, consolidating the progressive vote. Balint also benefited from significant outside spending from the LGBTQ Victory Fund (Balint is gay), which poured about $1 million into the race, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus' campaign arm.

She got a boost during the campaign when state Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale dropped out and endorsed her, consolidating the progressive vote. Balint also benefited from significant outside spending from the LGBTQ Victory Fund (Balint is gay), which poured about $1 million into the race, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ campaign arm. 

Gray attracted support from more moderate state leaders, including retiring Sen. Leahy, who, while he stopped short of issuing a formal endorsement, said he voted for Gray and, through his PAC, donated $5,000 to her cause. Former Vermont Govs. Howard Dean and Madeleine Kunin also backed Gray.

But in a contest that provided few notable policy distinctions between the leading candidates, Balint’s success in claiming the progressive mantle – she was also endorsed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey of neighboring Massachusetts – likely helped her among primary voters, who tend to lean even further left than even the average Vermont Democrat.

“A high turnout for us has been about 25%, so we're not talking about a real representation of the Democratic party in Vermont,” said Rich Clark, a professor at Castleton University and Vermont pollster, on the eve of the primary. “It'll be the most engaged (voters deciding the winner) and they'll tend to be on the progressive side.”

Balint will enter the November general election as the overwhelming favorite to win the seat of Rep. Welch. This was the first Democratic House primary in Vermont with no incumbent on the ballot since 2006, when Sanders gave up his seat to run for the Senate.

8:16 p.m. ET, August 9, 2022

Vermont could make history in November 

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

State Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint and Lt. Gov. Molly Gray are the front-runners in a three-candidate race for the nomination to replace Rep. Peter Welch in the House.

If elected in the fall, either one could become the first woman elected to Congress from Vermont, which is the only state that has never sent a woman to Congress.

Little separates Balint and Gray on the major issues, but their candidacies have split the loyalties of Vermont Sens. Bernie Sanders and Leahy. Sanders and leading progressives from around the country have endorsed Balint. Gray has the support of Leahy, who has donated to her cause and said he voted for her, though not formally endorsed in the race. Former Vermont Govs. Howard Dean and Madeleine Kunin are also backing Gray.

But in a race that has seen the candidates themselves about level on fundraising, a flood of outside spending for Balint could help tip the scales. The LGBTQ Victory Fund has invested about $1 million into the race for Balint, who is gay. She has also benefited from spending by the campaign arm of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, whose chair, Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, along with the progressive senators from neighboring Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, have all endorsed Balint.

8:09 p.m. ET, August 9, 2022

CNN Projection: Democrat Brenda Siegel will face incumbent GOP Gov. Phil Scott in Vermont's race for governor

From CNN staff

(From Brenda Siegel for Governor/Facebook)
(From Brenda Siegel for Governor/Facebook)

Brenda Siegel will win Vermont's Democratic gubernatorial primary, CNN projects, and face incumbent GOP Gov. Phil Scott in November.

Siegel ran unopposed.

8:12 p.m. ET, August 9, 2022

Polls are closing in Connecticut

From CNN's Melissa Holzberg DePalo, Ethan Cohen, Clara Grudberg and Nicholas Anastacio

It's 8 p.m. ET and polls are closing in Connecticut.

Connecticut’s Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Gov. Ned Lamont are up for reelection but are unopposed in their primaries. In November, Lamont will face Republican Bob Stefanowski, who he defeated in 2018 by roughly 3 percentage points.

Three Republicans are vying for the nomination to face Blumenthal. There will also be a Republican primary in the 5th Congressional District and primaries on both sides for secretary of the state. 

Connecticut primaries are only open to registered party members.

10:57 p.m. ET, August 9, 2022

Wisconsin's GOP governor primary will test Trump's influence amid political fallout of FBI's Mar-a-Lago search

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Poll workers and voters participate during Wisconsin's state primary day on August 9, at the Village Hall of Waukesha in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Poll workers and voters participate during Wisconsin's state primary day on August 9, at the Village Hall of Waukesha in Waukesha, Wisconsin. (Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump's clout with Republican voters in a key swing state will be tested again on Tuesday as the fallout from the FBI search of his Florida resort mushrooms across the political landscape.

Wisconsin, where Republicans are selecting their nominee to take on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in a crucial November election, is providing the headline contests, but three other states — MinnesotaVermont and Connecticut — are also going to the polls, with races up and down the ballot poised to provide a clearer picture of an increasingly high-stakes midterm election season.

Wisconsin is the third state in which Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence have backed opposing GOP candidates for governor. Pence has backed former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who, at the outset, appeared to be the party favorite in the primary. But Kleefisch, who served two terms as former Gov. Scott Walker's second-in-command, is locked in a tight race with Tim Michels, a construction company owner who was endorsed by Trump and has gone further in embracing his 2020 election lies — mostly by indulging efforts to decertify President Joe Biden's victory in the state. Kleefisch has been more circumspect, triggering attacks from Trump.

Trump and Pence each have mixed records: Trump's choice in Arizona, Kari Lake, a conservative commentator and election denier, narrowly won the nomination, while Pence's pick in Georgia, incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp, defeated Trump-backed primary challenger David Perdue, a former senator, in a landslide.

The rubber match between the former running mates will settle the Republican Party's slate of nominees for governor in the states that flipped from Trump in 2016 to Biden four years later — Wisconsin, Arizona, Michigan, Georgia and Pennsylvania. All five are expected to be fiercely contested again in 2024, and GOP victories in those political battlegrounds this fall could help ease Trump's path back to the White House if he runs again.

Wisconsin is also home to a critical GOP primary in the state legislature, where longtime Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, an arch conservative who has mostly gone along with Trump's 2020 election claims, is being challenged by Adam Steen, who picked up a Trump endorsement because Vos, in the former President's estimation, has been insufficiently bullish about right-wing efforts to have the state decertify his defeat.

Democrats, meanwhile, are very much enjoying the anticlimactic finish to what many expected to be a closely-contested Senate primary. After polls showed Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes pulling away from the field, his top rivals all dropped out in a span of a few days, effectively handing him the nomination and a November showdown with Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, one of Trump's leading defenders in Washington and a top target for Democrats hoping to preserve or potentially expand their Senate majority.

Also in the Upper Midwest on Tuesday, Republicans in Minnesota will pick their candidate to face Democratic Gov. Tim Walz, who is seeking a second term.

Scott Jensen, a doctor and former state lawmaker, all but clinched the nomination after winning the support of the state party. He faces Joyce Lynne Lacey and Bob "Again" Carney Jr., both heavy underdogs, in the primary. Jensen is a longtime critic of Walz, mostly railing against statewide lockdowns during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. But he also suggested hospitals inflated their counts of the sick and questioned the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, which Jensen has said he did not receive.

The race between Walz and Jensen could also help determine the fate of abortion rights in Minnesota. Jensen told Minnesota Public Radio in March that he would "try to ban abortion" if elected, a remark Walz and other Democrats have already seized on. Jensen, late last month, backed off his more aggressive language in remarks, saying he supports exceptions to allow abortion in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at risk.

But Democrats, emboldened by Kansas' vote last week to preserve abortion rights in a statewide referendum, are expected to make the issue a central piece of their fall campaign.

Read more here.

11:29 p.m. ET, August 9, 2022

Peter Welch will likely join Patrick Leahy as Vermont’s only elected Democratic senators

Analysis from CNN's Harry Enten

Peter Welch speaks during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, March 30, 2022.
Peter Welch speaks during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, March 30, 2022. (Eric Lee/Bloomberg/Getty Images/FILE)

The contest to become Vermont’s next senator is not a particularly suspenseful affair. Democratic Rep. Peter Welch is the heavy favorite to win his primary today and the general election in the fall. 

The race will, however, end one of the great pieces of political trivia. Retiring Sen. Patrick Leahy has been the only Democratic senator ever elected in Vermont. 

While President Biden won the state by 35 points, the Green Mountain State has historically been quite Republican. Before 1992, Lyndon Johnson was the lone Democrat to win the state in a presidential election. 

No Democratic presidential candidate has lost it since. This traces with the Republican Party becoming more culturally conservative, as the Democratic Party has become more culturally liberal.  

The senators that Vermont elected for much of the 19th and 20th century reflected Vermont’s Republican lean.

Of course, the state hasn’t had a Republican senator in over 20 years. The last Republican senator, Jim Jeffords, became an independent in 2001 and caucused with the Democrats in the Senate. 

Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders has done the same since 2007. 

But come next year, Democrats in Vermont will likely be able to claim that they finally elected their second Democrat to the Senate.

7:00 p.m. ET, August 9, 2022

Polls are closing in Vermont

From CNN's Melissa Holzberg DePalo, Ethan Cohen, Clara Grudberg and Nicholas Anastacio

It's 7 p.m. ET and polls are closing in Vermont.

Voters cast ballots in several statewide primary elections, including the Democratic Senate primary election to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy. The frontrunner in the Democratic primary is Rep. Peter Welch, Vermont’s only House member, leaving a competitive Democratic primary election to fill his House seat.

Becca Balint, left, and Molly Gray, right.
Becca Balint, left, and Molly Gray, right. (AP)

The two leading candidates to replace Welch in the House are Becca Balint, the president pro tempore of the Vermont state Senate, and Lt. Gov. Molly Gray. The race has split Vermont’s senators. Leahy has endorsed Gray, who interned for him before working in Welch’s office. Gray also has the support of former Vermont Govs. Howard Dean and Madeleine Kunin.

Meanwhile, Balint has the backing of Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, and she is also supported by more than $600,000 in advertising from progressive and LGBTQ groups, including the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC and the LGBTQ Victory Fund. 

Vermont is only state that has never sent a woman to Congress, so either Balint or Gray would make history if they win in November, as is expected. 

Read more about this race here.

6:39 p.m. ET, August 9, 2022

The numbers behind the Wisconsin Senate race

Analysis from CNN's Harry Enten

What happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force? Well, we’re likely to meet the midterm version in Wisconsin’s senatorial race.  

What was supposed to be a competitive Democratic primary today became almost a foregone conclusion when all of Mandela Barnes’ formidable opponents dropped out. He is very likely to face Johnson in the fall. 

The polling suggests the race should be quite competitive, but history says something very different. 

Johnson’s polling is, as my colleague Dan Merica noted, not especially strong. His unfavorable rating has been higher than his favorable among Wisconsinites in every Marquette Law School poll over the last year. 

Barnes and Johnson were within the margin of error when matched up against each other in Marquette’s June poll. 

The list of opposition party (i.e. not the party of the president) senators going down to defeat in midterms is small. It’s especially small when the senator is from a state that was more friendly to the opposition party in the previous two presidential elections than the nation as a whole. 

Such is the case with Wisconsin, which Hillary Clinton lost and President Biden won by a smaller margin than he won by nationally.

An incumbent senator has lost just once in 87 times in such scenarios since 1982. That one time was when the president had an approval rating north of 60% nationally. Biden’s is below 40%. 

We’ll see if the polling eventually catches up to history, or if 2022 shows that history isn’t always prologue. 

 

6:54 p.m. ET, August 9, 2022

Your hour-by-hour guide to tonight’s primaries

Analysis from CNN's Adam Wollner

Voters cast their ballots at a polling place inside a library in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, on August 9.
Voters cast their ballots at a polling place inside a library in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, on August 9. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The primary season rolls on Tuesday as voters in two New England states (Vermont and Connecticut) and two Upper Midwest states (Minnesota and Wisconsin) will set general election matchups for statewide, congressional and local elections. 

To help you easily follow along with the results, here is a handy guide — put together with a major assist from our colleagues in the CNN Political Unit — to all the key races to keep an eye on as polls close throughout the evening.

7 p.m. ET: Polls close in Vermont. Vermont is the only state that has never elected a woman to Congress. That will almost certainly change this year — it’s just a question of who that woman will be. State Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint and Lt. Gov. Molly Gray are the two leading candidates in the Democratic primary for the state’s sole congressional seat. The race has pitted the state’s two US senators against each other, with Bernie Sanders supporting Balint and Patrick Leahy backing Gray. Whoever wins the primary will be the heavy favorite in the general election in deep blue Vermont. 

Meanwhile, Peter Welch, who currently represents the district, is the frontrunner in the Democratic primary for the US Senate seat being vacated by Leahy, who is retiring. In the governor’s race, Brenda Siegel is running unopposed in the Democratic primary, but would still be an underdog in the general election against GOP Gov. Phil Scott, despite the state’s progressive nature.

8 p.m. ET: Polls close in Connecticut. There won’t be much action in solidly blue Connecticut tonight. Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Gov. Ned Lamont are running unopposed in their primaries and should have little trouble winning reelection in November. 

9 p.m. ET: Polls close in Minnesota and Wisconsin. This is when the major contests of the night come into play. In Wisconsin, the GOP gubernatorial primary serves as the latest front in the proxy war between Donald Trump and Mike Pence. The former President endorsed wealthy construction company owner Tim Michels, while the former vice president lined up behind Rebecca Kleefisch, who served as lieutenant governor under Scott Walker. The winner will face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in what is expected to be one of the most competitive gubernatorial races this fall. 

The Democratic primary for US Senate in Wisconsin will reach a much more anticlimactic conclusion. The path is now clear for Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes after Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry, Wisconsin state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski and Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson all dropped out in the final weeks of the race in an effort to put the party in the strongest position possible to take on GOP Sen. Ron Johnson, one of Democrats’ top targets. 

Trump is also getting involved in a local race by backing a GOP primary challenger to state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, whom the former President pressured as recently as last month to decertify the 2020 election results in Wisconsin (something Vos has no ability to do).  

One state over, the main race to watch in Minnesota will be a special election in the 1st District to replace GOP Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who died in February. Republican Brad Finstad and Democrat Jeff Ettinger will be simultaneously running against each other to fill the seat for the rest of the term and in their respective primaries to appear on the November ballot for a full two-year term. Trump won the district by 10 points in 2020, so it is favored to remain in Republican control. 

Minnesota Republicans will also nominate a candidate to face off against Democratic Gov. Tim Walz, though that is not expected to be a top-tier race. 

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