In Missouri, scandal-ridden former governor Eric Greitens is attempting a political comeback. In Michigan, a crowded field of Republican candidates for governor includes a man charged in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In Arizona, a leading figure in the QAnon conspiracy movement is running for the US House.
These are among some of the most prominent contests in Tuesday’s primary elections being held in six states.
Arizona, which Democrat Joe Biden narrowly won in 2020, is a prime target for former President Donald Trump, who tried unsuccessfully to overturn his loss. He has endorsed a slate of candidates up and down the ballot who have promoted his bogus claims of a stolen election.
Trump has also focused on the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him over the January 6 uprising. Three of them are on the ballot Tuesday in Washington state and Michigan, as well as two members of “the squad,” Democratic representatives Cori Bush of Missouri and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
Meanwhile, Kansas voters could pave the way for the Republican-controlled Legislature to further restrict or ban abortion if they approve a proposed state constitutional change. It is the first referendum on abortion policy by a state since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.
Ohio also holds a primary for state legislative races on Tuesday, three months after its statewide and congressional contests, a divided system that resulted from a legal dispute over redistricting.
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All of Trump’s endorsed candidates in Arizona have one thing in common: They’ve been loudly spreading misinformation about the legitimacy of the 2020 election, even though election officials and Trump’s own attorney general say there’s no credible evidence that the race is contaminated.
In the governor’s race, Trump has endorsed former TV news anchor Kari Lake, who has said she would not have certified the results of Arizona’s 2020 election. Lake is facing off against businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robson, who has the support of former Vice President Mike Pence and outgoing Gov. Doug Ducey.
Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a staunch supporter of the 2020 election, is heavily favored to win the Democratic nomination for governor.
In the Republican primary for the US Senate, Trump has endorsed tech investor Blake Masters as a candidate to face Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly in the fall. Masters, whose campaign has been funded by billionaire Peter Thiel, has called for reducing legal immigration and championed the baseless “great replacement” conspiracy theory, claiming that Democrats are trying to “replace the Americans who went born here.”
Attorney General Mark Brnovich, another Senate candidate, has been hit by lackluster fundraising and fierce criticism from Trump, who says Brnovich did little to advance his claims of voter fraud. Another top candidate, Jim Lamon, the founder of a solar energy company, has touted his experience as a military veteran and entrepreneur.
The Republican primary for secretary of state includes Trump-backed lawmaker Mark Finchem, a state representative who worked to overturn Trump’s 2020 loss; state Rep. Shawnna Bolick, who introduced a bill to allow lawmakers to ignore election results and choose their own presidential electors; and state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, who has long pushed to overhaul election laws. The GOP establishment has rallied around advertising executive Beau Lane in the race.
Ron Watkins, who has ties to the QAnon conspiracy theory, is considered a long-shot target in his home run. Watkins, a Republican, was the longtime administrator of the online message boards that became the home of the anonymous “Q.” The conspiracy theory centers on the baseless belief that Trump waged a secret campaign against enemies of the “deep state” and that a group of satanic, cannibalistic child abusers secretly run the world.
In the state legislature, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who testified at a Jan. 6 hearing about Trump’s push to void the 2020 election, is facing a Trump-backed candidate in his attempt to run for the state Senate.
The Republican primary for governor was wild from the start, with five candidates kicked off the ballot for failing to submit enough valid nomination signatures.
Several of the remaining candidates have baggage that could hurt in a general election against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Real estate agent Ryan Kelley has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges after authorities say he rallied Trump supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol. Businessman Kevin Rinke was sued in the 1990s for sexual harassment and racial discrimination, allegations he says were untrue. Chiropractor Garrett Soldano placed supplements he falsely claimed treated COVID-19. Businesswoman Tudor Dixon, who has been endorsed by Trump, has previously acted in low-budget horror pictures, one of which included a zombie biting off a man’s genitalia.
All the candidates are falsely saying there was fraud in the 2020 election, with Dixon, Kelley and Soldano saying the election was stolen from Trump.
Republican Rep. Peter Meijer hopes to keep his seat after voting to impeach Trump. The former president has endorsed businessman and missionary John Gibbs, who worked in the Trump administration under Housing Secretary Ben Carson.
Greitens’ political career ended when he resigned as governor in 2018, following his admission of an extramarital affair and allegations of racketeering and campaign finance violations. On Tuesday, the former Navy SEAL has a chance to be rescued in his Republican primary for the seat held by retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt.
Greitens, Attorney General Eric Schmitt and U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler are the frontrunners in a crowded 21-person field that includes U.S. Rep. Billy Long and Mark McCloskey, the attorney for St. Louis who, along with his wife, pointed guns at racial intent. protesters for injustice who ventured into their private street.
Trump has not endorsed the race, though he has ruled out Hartzler.
The GOP winner in Missouri, a solidly Republican state, will be favored in November. But Republican leaders have long worried that Greitens — who has also been accused of abuse by his ex-wife, accusations Greitens has called “baseless” — could win the primary but lose the general election.
On the Democratic side, the nomination appears to be up for grabs between Lucas Kunce, a Navy veteran and self-proclaimed populist, and Trudy Busch Valentine, an heiress to the Busch beer fortune who has largely self-funded her campaign.
Two Washington state Republican House members who voted to impeach Trump are facing primary challengers endorsed by him.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who has been in Congress since 2011, said he voted for impeachment because he had “an obligation to the Constitution.” Trump has endorsed Joe Kent, a former Green Beret and regular on the conservative cable show who echoes the former president’s complaints about the outcome of the 2020 election.
Rep. Dan Newhouse, a member of Congress since 2015, said he voted to impeach Trump for inciting and refusing to immediately stop the January 6 uprising. Among his challengers is Loren Culp, a former small-town police chief backed by Trump who refused to concede the 2020 governor’s race to Democrat Jay Inslee.
In Washington, the top two vote-getters in each race, regardless of party, advance to November.
Voters will decide whether to approve a change to the state constitution that could allow the Legislature to restrict or ban abortion despite a 2019 state Supreme Court ruling that access to abortion is a fundamental right . It is the first state abortion referendum since Roe v. Wade was overturned.
In statewide races, Republican Kris Kobach is running for attorney general as he attempts a political comeback after losses in races for governor and U.S. Senate in previous years. Kobach, the state’s former secretary of state, served as vice chairman of a short-lived Trump commission on voter fraud after the 2016 election.
Associated Press writers Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix; Sara Burnett in Chicago; Jim Salter in O’Fallon, Missouri; Chris Grygiel in Seattle; and John Hanna in Topeka, Kansas; contributed to this report.
Meg Kinnard can be contacted at
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