Voters reject attempt to strip state of abortion protections in Kansas

After a relatively quiet July, the midterms are back on Tuesday, with primaries across five states capturing national attention.

Once again, former President Trump made himself a pivotal figure by participating in today’s most challenging competition. His endorsements are seen as a measure of his continued influence over the Republican Party base, and few hold higher stakes than his gubernatorial choices in Arizona and Michigan — two battleground states where his lies about election fraud persist in 2020. His endorsement led in the Missouri Senate race To open new horizons in creativity, even if it lacks clarity.

His quest for intra-party vendetta also continued apace in Michigan and Washington, as he backed his rivals to three House Republicans who voted to impeach him in January 2021.

While the Trump effect was a subplot throughout the entire primary season, the election in Kansas provided insight into a new dynamic: abortion politics after the end of Roe v. Wade. A ballot paper referendum sought to determine whether the right to abortion is protected in the state constitution, providing the first gauge of how voters will react to the Supreme Court’s June decision to repeal federal protections for abortion.

Here are the main points so far:

A critical vote on abortion in Kansas

In 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the Kansas Constitution protects the right to abortion. On Tuesday, voters vehemently rejected an attempt to pass a constitutional amendment drafted by abortion opponents to overturn the ruling.

The amendment would have allowed Republicans, who have an overwhelming majority in both houses of the legislature, to pass bills restricting access to abortion in the state. They are likely to override the veto of Democratic Governor Laura Kelly, who will be re-elected this year. It won’t just affect Kansans – hundreds of Missouri, Texas, and Oklahoma residents Travel to the state every year to terminate a pregnancy.

The high turnout and resounding defeat of the amendment, including which parts of the state voted for Trump in 2020, are the first indication of the extent of unpopular efforts to roll back abortion protections among voters, even in red states. Polling stations across the state saw long queues and turnout was high, although there were few competitive races for the ballot.

The convincing victory in a red state strongly impressed National Democrats, who have been absorbing a political lifeline amid soaring inflation and mediocre approval numbers for President Biden. Now they have some evidence that abortion rights can be a powerful motivator.

“It’s time to reevaluate conventional wisdom about the midterm elections after this vote in Kansas,” Hawaii Democratic Senator Brian Schatz tweeted. “People are very angry that their rights have been taken away.”

Anarchy elementary school in Michigan

Republican Theodore Dixon will face Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer after he survived a chaotic primaries in Michigan. Dixon, a former conservative political commentator, beat up four other Republicans including Ryan Kelly – who was arrested by the FBI in June on charges related to his presence in the US Capitol during the January 6, 2021 rebellion.

Five other GOP candidates, including two of the frontrunners, were disqualified in May due to fake signatures used to qualify for the ballot.

Despite Trump’s last-minute support, Dixon has already faced criticism from his allies. It was dubbed the Foundation’s Choice because it was backed by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who irked the Trump world when she resigned from his administration after the Capitol attack.

State Democrats battled their fiercest battle in a congressional district northwest of Detroit, after redistricting directed incumbent Representatives Andy Levine and Hailey Stevens to the same seat. Levine had the support of prominent progressives such as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, while Stevens was backed by Hillary Clinton.

The campaign also became a proxy for the direction of American policy toward Israel and Palestine. The pro-Israel group AIPAC poured millions into television ads against Levin, who criticized Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. Stevens emerged as the winner of the partisan battle.

Congratulations to Eric.

The race to succeed retired Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri has been long on candidates — 21 contenders on the ballot — and on drama. Most of the controversy has surrounded former Missouri Governor Eric Grettens, who resigned in 2018 amid accusations of sexual assault and extortion, which usually aren’t great for an individual’s political prospects. Nor are there allegations of domestic violence, which Grettens’ ex-wife has made amid an ongoing custody battle.

However, Greitens, who posted an ad depicting himself pretending to be chasing moderate Republicans, appeared well positioned in the race thanks to his high profile identification. A group of Republicans, worried that the Green Party might put a hard red seat within reach of the Democrats, hit it with a barrage of negative TV ads. That state paid me. General Eric Schmidt at the top of the balloting pile.

Trump kept his preference silent until the day before the primaries, when he announced “Eric” as his pick. Which Eric? This is still not clear. Greitens and Schmitt both claimed endorsements for themselves. By appearing to support both, Trump ended up simultaneously winning and losing this race at the same time.

The clear winner overall is Schmidt, who clinched the Republican nomination on Tuesday.

The endless 2020 elections in Arizona

Neither Trump narrowly beat his loss in Arizona in nearly two years, nor his shortlisted candidates in the state’s major races. When all the results come in at the statewide races, it will reveal whether Arizona’s Republican voters feel the same way — or whether they’re ready to move on.

Trump’s favorite contenders — former news anchor Carrie Lake for governor, venture capitalist Blake Masters in the US Senate, state legislator and election detractor Mark Finchim for Secretary of State — have all embraced the false rallying cry that Trump has already won in the battlefield state.

That message propelled Masters and Finchem to the early lead in their respective races on Tuesday, although their competitions have yet to be called. Meanwhile, Lake was trailing Karen Taylor Robson, who was endorsed by former Vice President Mike Pence and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey.

Lake, who was making allegations of vote fraud without evidence long before polls closed, said late Tuesday that she was confident she would score a victory to face the Democratic candidate for governor, Katie Hobbs, in November.

dismissal fury

When 10 Republicans voted to impeach Trump after the incursion into the Capitol on January 6, they knew it would be a fateful vote for their careers. Since then, four have decided to retire rather than seek re-election. One of them, Representative David Valadao of California, narrowly escaped the primaries. Representative Tom Rice of South Carolina lost it decisively. Now the fate of three others will be determined on Tuesday. Unsurprisingly, Trump backed all three rivals.

In Michigan, Representative Peter Major, the only new student to vote for impeachment, admitted John Gibbs, who served in the Trump administration and does not believe the 2020 election was legitimate. Sensing that Gibbs would be more beatable in November, the Democrats’ campaign arm in Congress ran ads highlighting his loyalty to Trump and saying he’s too conservative for the district — which, in the Republican primaries, was a de facto contribution to the campaign trail.

If Representatives Jaime Herrera Butler and Dan Newhouse advance after Tuesday’s vote, it’s likely because their state, Washington, does not have a partisan primaries. Instead, the two largest vote-getters advance to the general election.

Herrera Butler has faced several well-funded rivals, including Trump’s pick, Joe Kent, a former Green Beret with links to far-right groups such as the Proud Boys. Newhouse quarreled against Lauren Culp, who ran for governor in 2020 and blamed his loss, without evidence, on fraud. Culp, who Trump has endorsed, alleged that he rigged the election on Tuesday’s race days before polls closed, pointing to a local newspaper website that appeared to show a number of votes. The newspaper’s editor explained that Kolb was looking at a test page, not actual voting results.

Mason reported from Los Angeles, John from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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