Roe shocks the midterms – 5 takeaways from an important primary night

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Democrats may see a glimpse of new life in the medium term, following the stunning defeat of the Kansas anti-abortion measure. Eric Greitens is the big loser in Missouri – meaning the Republican Party as a whole has won. And in Michigan, Rep. Peter Meijer conceded in a primary, fueled by his vote to impeach former President Donald Trump.

Votes are still being counted in some of the most important races in Arizona, Washington and Michigan. But as the multi-state primaries returned on Tuesday after a summer break, the shape of the general election landscape came into clearer focus.

Here are five takeaways from the first primary night of August:

The Roe earthquake is real

It would have been a win for Democrats and abortion rights activists if they had even kept it close in Kansas.

Instead, when the heavily Republican state rejected a constitutional amendment against abortion, it signaled a political earthquake with the potential to reshape the entire mid-term campaign.

In the first test of abortion politics since the destruction of the Supreme Court Roe v. WadeTurnout rose in Kansas despite a heat advisory and little else to draw Democrats to the polls. But in a state where Trump defeated President Joe Biden by nearly 15 percentage points in 2020, the amendment failed miserably — in a backlash to Republican lawmakers preparing to introduce legislation restricting abortion.

And if the politics of roe proved fraught for Republicans in Kansas, it will be even more treacherous for the GOP in swingier, more moderate parts of the country.

“I think it should signal both at Kansas and nationally that people can get energized around the idea that Republicans are determined to have government mandates over women’s health care decisions, and that’s something that doesn’t sit well with a lot of people.” people,” said former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who served as Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Obama administration.

The roe decision, she said, “set people on fire.”

In a bleak midterm election landscape for Democrats, roe will almost certainly not be enough to prevent Republicans from winning the House. And the result in Kansas is not a perfect indication of how voters will treat abortion in candidate races. The question of why voters decided there was a state constitutional amendment that would have cleared a path for the state legislature to ban abortion, not a candidate race involving multiple issues and personalities.

Yet the Kansas outcome was the first real evidence to support a near-universal consensus among both Democratic and Republican political operatives: that roe in November is likely to help margin Democrats, boost grassroots Democrats and elevate the party’s position among independents and suburban women.

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The challenge for Democrats now will be to attach their candidates to abortion rights — and to hammer Republicans on the issue in a fall — while Republicans will work to keep the focus on rising prices and talk about something other than roe.

Republicans make it easier on themselves

Republicans dodged two bullets on Tuesday. In Missouri, Eric Greitens, the disgraced former governor, finished far behind in his Senate primary bid. And in Michigan, Tudor Dixon emerged from a gubernatorial primaries full of tougher opponents that many Republicans feared would slow down the party in November.

That’s good news for the GOP. And it’s a departure from where the party seemed to be heading in many of its early primaries—picking candidates who seem dangerously inclined to get in the way of the good political climate for Republicans.

In Pennsylvania, physician Mehmet Oz, the Republican nominee for the Senate, has polled so poorly that Republicans are discussing alternative avenues to the Senate majority. Republicans nearly conceded the gubernatorial race in heavily Democratic Maryland after the nomination of Dan Cox, the Trump-approved state legislator who organized buses to Washington for the rally ahead of the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot.

It is possible that the first results on Tuesday will turn out to be a blip. In Arizona, Mark Finchem, an election denier who ran for secretary of state with Trump’s approval, led the way. And generally speaking in this year’s primaries, Jason Roe, the former executive director of the Michigan State Republican Party, said, “I think in many cases we’ve nominated our weakest candidates for the general election, So the primaries didn’t serve us well.”

But for the traditionalist wing of the Republican Party, early signs on Tuesday were mostly positive.

In Arizona, Kari Lake, the Trump-approved candidate for governor who still falsely maintains that Trump has won the 2020 election, ran after Karrin Taylor Robson, the establishment-backed candidate — though the results were expected to be significant. decrease as there are more ballots. counted. In a House district in the state, Ron Watkins, a celebrity in the QAnon conspiracy world, barely registered.

And then there were the three House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. One of them, Meijer, lost in Michigan. But in Washington, Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse were both in a position to survive their primaries if the early return held out.

The name Meijer wasn’t enough to overcome the political heaviness in West Michigan

A year and a half ago, days after he cast one of his first votes in Congress for the impeachment of Donald Trump, Meijer bought a bulletproof vest to protect himself from mortal danger. Since then, however, the political danger has loomed over him.

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Republicans from West Michigan unleashed their anger on Tuesday at the first congressman and scion of the Midwestern supermarket chain to share his last name. They’ve never forgiven the 34-year-old veteran for that voice — and it’s especially noteworthy that someone with that last name, in this place, couldn’t outrun it, though Meijer’s track record puts him on track to pass more laws. than any freshman House Republican in decades.

Meijer is now the second pro-impeachment Republican to lose a primary, coming under Trump-backed John Gibbs, the former Trump administration housing and urban development officer and software engineer who moved to the district to eliminate the congressman. to day.

The Former President “Still” [has] a very, very strong following with very reliable Republican voters,” a source close to the Meijer campaign told POLITICO Tuesday evening. “And I think John Gibbs has spent pretty much the entire campaign preaching to the Trump faithful.”

At the beginning of Wednesday, Meijer was more than a thousand votes behind Gibbs. After midnight, the Gibbs campaign was already being celebrated. “We’re toasting,” said AnneMarie Schieber, Gibbs’ spokesperson. “And praise God. The voice of the people is heard.”

Meanwhile, the House of Democrats campaign group’s decision to down-fund Gibbs’ campaign to the tune of $425,000 seemed all the more consequential — similar to what Gibbs racked up throughout the cycle. The Democrats’ decision meant “they saw something that scared them,” the Meijer source said, “and that was the prospect of Peter Meijer winning and going into a rematch against [Democratic nominee] Hillary Scholten.”

“Meijer ran a tactically sound campaign, spent huge amounts of money against Gibbs, and it’s hard to gauge the built-in value of the Meijer surname in Michigan,” said Jeff Timmer, former executive director of the Michigan Republican Party and a senior adviser to the anti-Trump Lincoln Project.

But in this case, even the name Meijer wasn’t enough to overcome the political heaviness of a party that still revolves around Trump. “Gibbs had no money and ran a crappy amateur campaign,” said Timmer. “But he didn’t vote for impeachment and Gibbs will win.”

Election denial still flourishes

Mark Finchem is about to win the Republican Secretary of State nomination in Arizona. But the notorious election denier is just the tip of the iceberg.

Finchem, a state legislator, has a slight edge over a shattered field in Arizona for Secretary of State. Should his lead survive the final votes, Finchem would join a growing cohort of diehard Trump loyalists competing in competitive general elections to become their state’s next chief election officer.

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Republicans have in some cases avoided the most extreme candidate for other statewide battlefield offices. But in many swing states, Republican voters have done the opposite in secretary of state contests, rewarding candidates who have done the most to undermine confidence in the electoral system.

Their elevation to the statewide ticket could pose a barrier to other Republican candidates — who would have to answer for a running mate’s election denial as many try to dance the question in front of a general election crowd. And their presence would ensure that instead of ignoring the lies about the 2020 election, they would remain center stage well into 2022.

That class of conspiracy theorists includes Nevada’s Jim Marchant and Michigan’s Kristina Karamo, in addition to Pennsylvania governor candidate Doug Mastriano, who would name the state’s lead election official if he wins in November.

Just one of them to win in November could create an unprecedented — and dangerous — situation where an election official’s first priority isn’t to hold fair elections, but to try to justify a former president’s fantasies.

And yet… Trump gets a hit

Finchem may win in Arizona and Meijer lost his place in Michigan. But two other House Republicans who, like Meijer, voted to impeach Trump were much better off early on Tuesday.

If Washington Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse survive their primaries, impeachment supporters will go 2-for-3.

And if the results shift and they don’t make it? The fact that the outcome in any impeachable race is even close points to a gradual weakening of Trump’s hold on the GOP. After all, impeachment for Trumpists was not a minor offense, but the greatest sin.

The standard — and rightful — knock on Trump’s mid-term approval record is that it’s filled up, with the former president going into any number of Republicans facing nominal or no opposition at all. His farcical endorsement in Tuesday’s Missouri Senate primaries of “Eric” — in a race with both Eric Greitens and eventual winner Eric Schmitt — underscored the point.

But perhaps the real evolution in Trump’s endorsement record is its waning significance. Yes, he can still pull a Republican across the finish line and he may be the most dominant force in the party. But he is no longer alone.

John Thomas, a Republican strategist who works on House campaigns across the country, said late Tuesday that Republicans who “play in November to be safe” may have started nominating “some of the more eligible candidates tonight.”

Republicans, he said, were “willing to go against Trump in certain circumstances to protect their chances of winning in November.”

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