Tuesday, August 9, 2022

2 winners and 1 loser of the Kansas, Missouri and Michigan primaries

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Voters in five states — Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington — went to the polls on Tuesday to select who will advance to a slew of competitive general election races and, in one case, tell us about the political ramifications of the Supreme’s decision. June court to reverse abortion rights.

Votes are still being counted in key races, including the GOP’s Arizona primaries for governor, senate, and secretary of state, and the Rep. Peter Meijer (R) in Michigan. Here are two winners and one loser based on what we know from Tuesday’s results so far.

Winner: Abortion Rights

Kansas became the first state to put abortion rights on the ballot, in a referendum, since the Supreme Court’s decision was overturned this summer Roe v. Wade. And abortion rights won big.

Kansans rejected an amendment to the state’s constitution that would have removed protections for the right to abortion, and voted to do so in double digits. The Kansas Supreme Court had previously ruled that the state constitution protected the right to abortion. This amendment, backed by conservative organizers, would have removed a critical barrier to the Republican state legislature’s ability to enact more aggressive abortion bans than the 22-week ban it currently has.

Tuesday’s outcome is a pretty big statement given the obstacles that abortion rights advocates have faced: confusing wording about the measure (voting “no” meant protecting it in place), a state where Republicans are much bigger than Democrats, and a slate of GOP primaries that Republicans hoped sap their turnout against Democrats.

However, this calculation was wrong. Turnout was huge across the political spectrum, much higher than the previous two primaries. Johnson County, which includes suburbs of Kansas City, had nearly four times as many early votes this year, compared to the same primaries in 2018, according to the Kansas City Star.

For now, abortion rights are preserved in a state that, as cafemadrid’s Rachel Cohen reported, is expecting a massive influx of women from neighboring states seeking abortion care. And for Democrats who saw kickbacks at the Supreme Court decision as a way to mobilize their voters, the first bell is a big win.

Winner: ERIC (Schmitt, that is)

After months of lobbying by the GOP Senate candidates in Missouri, Trump issued a trollish non-approval on the eve of the primary. In a statement on Monday, he said he was “proud to announce that ERIC has my full and total approval!” leaving candidates Eric Greitens, the disgraced former governor of Missouri, and Eric Schmitt, the current state attorney general, both empty-handed and happy to distribute concurrent tweets touting the “approval.”

Schmitt eventually defeated both six-year-old Representative Vicky Hartzler — who had the support of Senator Josh Hawley — and Greitens, by double digits. It’s a remarkable victory for Schmitt, who won without Trump’s help, and who is the favorite to go to the general election this fall, given the republican tilt of state. The prospect of a scandal-ridden Greitens victory worried many Republicans — and Democrats hoped for a pick-me-up. Schmitt has clearly defined himself as a “Trump Republican” and previously joined other GOP officials in supporting unsuccessful lawsuits challenging the 2020 election results in other states. But he has far less baggage than Greitens, and his win will reduce the chances of a secure Republican seat becoming competitive.

Schmitt will face Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine, a nurse and scion of the famed Anheuser-Busch family, in the general election.

Loser: Progressives

Redistricting pitted two Democratic incumbents in Michigan in the 11th arrondissement, and incidentally, a head-to-head contest was also set up between the two wings of the party.

Progressive Representative Andy Levin lost that match to his moderate colleague, Representative Haley Stevens. The controversial race involved fights over support for Israel (Stevens was supported by AIPAC), appeals to black voters, and drew hundreds of thousands of outside contributions.

In the Missouri Senate primaries, veteran Lucas Kunce also lost to Busch Valentine after mounting a populist campaign aimed at challenging corporate power and gaining the support of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) .

There were bright spots for progressives in Missouri and Michigan, where Representatives Cori Bush (D-MO) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) easily held off the primary challengers.

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