Ross D. Franklin/AP
August is a busy month for midterm election primaries, with Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, Kansas and Washington starting off the calendar on Tuesday.
We’re keeping an eye on races where former President Donald Trump’s picks are in play, and contests where he’s targeted Republicans who voted to impeach him.
We’re watching the number of 2020 election deniers who are on the ballot Tuesday, including two GOP candidates running for secretary of state in Arizona, which President Biden narrowly won in the last election.
And in Kansas, abortion rights are on the ballot — the first test of voter sentiment since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Here’s a breakdown of what to watch for.
Abortion in the spotlight
All eyes are on Kansas, where voters will decide whether to change the state constitution to potentially allow the legislature to further restrict or ban abortion. As of now, abortion is considered a fundamental right in the state, thanks to a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling.
And earlier this summer in Michigan, Republicans in the state legislature introduced a measure that would enforce an abortion ban from 1931. Incumbent Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has vowed not to let that happen and has made the issue a signature part of her campaign for reelection, which is shaping up to be a tight race.
On the Republican side, candidates include Tudor Dixon, a businesswoman and former TV commentator, chiropractor Garrett Soldano and businessman Kevin Rinke. Dixon, who is backed by former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and — since this past weekend — Trump, has had a lead in recent polling.
Where there are notable Trump-aligned candidates and election deniers
Arizona: In the GOP gubernatorial primary Trump has backed Kari Lake, a former television host who has spread lies about the 2020 election, while other Republicans — including former Vice President Mike Pence and current Gov. Doug Ducey — have endorsed her main opponent, Karrin Taylor Robson.
On the Senate side in Arizona, Trump’s pick is Blake Masters, former chief operating officer of the investment firm Thiel Capital. Masters’ campaign has been boosted by millions of dollars from Peter Thiel, his longtime friend and boss. Masters is in the race alongside businessman Jim Lamon, state Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Michael McGuire, a retired National Guard major general. The GOP winner will then move to a highly contested race against incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly.
Both Lake and Masters appear to have healthy leads in recent polling.
Trump has also endorsed state Rep. Mark Finchem, who has denied the results of the 2020 election and sought to overturn it. He’s now running to oversee voting in Arizona. He’s one of two election deniers on the Republican ballot for secretary of state.
Missouri: Trump opted not to make a last-minute endorsement in the race for Missouri’s open U.S. Senate seat, instead backing “ERIC” — a nod at two of the leading candidates, state Attorney General Eric Schmitt and former Gov. Eric Greitens. Many Republicans have been concerned that the controversial Greitens would win the nomination, complicating GOP hopes of holding on to what’s considered a safe seat.
Kansas: In Kansas, the open race for attorney general includes Kris Kobach, a former secretary of state who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2018. Trump has backed Kobach, who is a longtime ally of the former president. Also in the Republican field are candidates Tony Mattivi, a former federal prosecutor, and state Sen. Kellie Warren. Chris Mann, a former prosecutor and police officer, is unopposed on the Democratic side.
Kobach’s failed gubernatorial candidacy in 2018 meant the state got a Democratic governor with Laura Kelly. Kelly is now running for reelection in a race that’s considered a toss-up. She’s facing a primary challenge from accountant Rich Karnowski in her own party. And on the Republican side, Trump has endorsed the state’s current attorney general, Derek Schmidt, for the seat.
Where GOP candidates who voted against Trump face a challenge
Ten House Republicans voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 insurrection. Three are on the ballot Tuesday — and facing tough battles to get reelected.
In Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler is being challenged from the right by Joe Kent, a former member of the U.S. Army Special Forces, and Heidi St. John, a podcaster and homeschool advocate. Trump has backed Kent, who also has falsely said the 2020 election was stolen.
At a rally last week, Trump said of Herrera Beutler, “She voted for the radical Democrats’ second impeachment hoax where the Republicans stood up tall for me but she didn’t.”
Herrera Beutler, for her part, has been running a campaign as a more “independent” candidate.
In the state’s 4th District, Rep. Dan Newhouse has a similar fight. He’s facing challengers including the Trump-endorsed Loren Culp, a former town chief of police, who ran for governor in 2020 and would not concede following his loss.
And rounding out the three in Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District is Rep. Peter Meijer, who is facing a challenge from Trump pick John Gibbs, a former Trump administration official. Democrats have controversially meddled in the race, promoting Gibbs’ conservative credentials under the belief that he’d be easier to beat in one of Democrats’ top pickup opportunities.