The long 2022 primary season isn’t over yet. Starting today, 15 states will hold primary elections over the next 30 days, and the results of some races will be more impactful than others. By the beginning of September, American voters are sure to have a clearer idea of the importance of political dynasties, and more importantly, how much influence former President Donald Trump wields over the GOP electorate.
Michigan Democrats: Levin v. Stevens (August 2)
Michigan lost a congressional seat in the 2020 Census. The state’s new congressional map is the product of an independent commission, and while the commission has been successful in avoiding partisan gerrymandering, it wasn’t enough to stop a race between two incumbents. Both Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI) and Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI) could have opted to run in the new 10th Congressional District, which leans slightly Republican and contains suburban communities northeast of Detroit. But instead, both Democratic incumbents chose to seek reelection in the 11th Congressional District, which features a more Democratic-leaning electorate in the suburb’s northwest of Detroit. While Levin resides in the new district, Stevens’ current district includes much of the new one she’s running in.
Both Levin and Stevens first entered Congress at the start of 2019, meaning they have been incumbents for the same length of time. However, Levin has one possible advantage in the form of name recognition. His father, Sander Levin, served in the House before retiring in 2019, and his uncle, Carl Levin, served in the Senate from 1979 to 2015.
Missouri Republicans: Greitens v. Schmitt (August 2)
Eric Greitens was elected Governor of Missouri in 2016, but he resigned in 2018 following allegations of sexual misconduct and violations of campaign finance laws. Having secured Trump’s endorsement back in 2016, Greitens threw his hat in the ring as a Trump-friendly candidate in the 2022 Republican primary to replace the retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) amid a crowded field consisting of Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), and Rep. Billy Long (R-MO). While Trump has yet to formally endorse a candidate in the race, he has positively commented on Greitens as recently as July 8. However, Greitens’ initial lead in the polls seems to have has fallen after allegations of domestic abuse became public and the release of a controversial ad about hunting “Republicans-in-name-only,” or RINOs.
Currently, one poll has Greitens in third place behind Schmitt and Hartzler, while another has all three candidates tied for first. As voters in Missouri head to the polls, many Republicans including members of the former president’s inner-circle are currently divided over whether to support Greitens or Schmitt. However, given Trump’s 15-point victory margin in Missouri two years ago, whichever GOP Senate candidate prevails on Tuesday is all but certain to win in November.
Arizona Republicans: Brnovich v. Masters (August 2)
Arizona State Attorney General Mark Brnovich led the polls for months as the Republican candidate in the primary race for the Senate. However, Brnovich began to lose ground after former President Trump criticized the attorney general for not supporting him during the 2020 election audit of Maricopa County. In June, Trump endorsed Blake Masters, bringing the 35-year-old venture capitalist to first place in the polls. A critic of the validity of the 2020 presidential election, Masters has been also questioning whether the results of the 2022 midterm election will be legitimate, which some Republicans worry could backfire and dissuade some GOP voters from showing up at the polls this November. Whoever secures the Republican Primary will take on freshman Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) this fall in a race that the Cook Political Report currently rates as a “toss-up.” But the nomination of a hardcore Trump loyalist and election skeptic like Masters to the GOP ticket could turn off moderate and independent voters, leaving Kelly with a slight edge in November.
Wyoming: Cheney v. Hageman (August 16)
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) was a rising star in the Republican Party, having been elected House GOP Conference Chair in August 2019. However, Cheney lost her leadership position in May 2021 after drawing the ire of House Republicans for her criticism of former President Donald Trump. Since then, Cheney has only doubled down on her criticism of Trump by serving as the Vice Chair of the January 6th Committee.
Wyoming voters picked Trump over then-candidate Joe Biden in 2020 by a 40-point margin, so it’s no surprise that Cheney is trailing the Trump-endorsed attorney Harriet Hagemen by nearly 20 points in the GOP primary. Cheney’s current situation is a sharp contrast from 2020, when she won reelection with 70% of the vote. Cheney could theoretically find a narrow pathway to victory if she secures the votes of independents and Democrats over the coming days, but a landslide loss would mean the former president is still capable of commanding influence in states that strongly lean red.
The Rest of Primary Season
After August 31, only four states have primaries left: Massachusetts’ primary is scheduled for September 6, while Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island have their primary elections on September 13. Given the number of consequential primaries in August, however, voters won’t have to wait until the end of the month to get a sense of what the midterm election in November will look like – and how much of an influence the former president has on the GOP.