The Republican primary for governor in Wisconsin is the night’s most closely watched race. It has turned into a proxy battle between former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence over the direction of the GOP. Trump-endorsed businessman Tim Michels faces former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who is backed by Pence as well as former Gov. Scott Walker, for whom she spent eight years as the state’s No. 2.
Here are three takeaways from Tuesday’s primaries in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont and Connecticut:
Balint, who was backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, defeated Lt. Gov. Molly Gray, a more moderate candidate backed by retiring Sen. Patrick Leahy.
Balint will enter the November general election as the overwhelming favorite to win the seat.
A former schoolteacher, Balint had the support of other leading progressive groups and politicians. Gray attracted support from more moderate state leaders, including Leahy, who stopped short of issuing a formal endorsement but said he voted for her. Former Vermont Govs. Howard Dean and Madeleine Kunin also backed Gray.
But in a contest that provided few notable policy distinctions between the leading candidates, Balint’s success in claiming the progressive mantle — she was also endorsed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey of neighboring Massachusetts — likely helped her among primary voters, who tend to lean even further left than even the average Vermont Democrat.
Wisconsin Senate race is set
The general election for Wisconsin Senate has been subtly going on for weeks. But on Tuesday night, it began in earnest.
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson easily won his primary for reelection, while Democratic Senate candidate and Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes won his bid to try and unseat the Republican.
The Johnson vs. Barnes race will likely be one of the closest watched campaigns of the 2022 cycle. It pits a Republican who has drawn the ire of Democrats for his ties to former President Donald Trump and his adoption of a string of conspiracy theories against a Democrat who holds several progressive positions that Republicans believe make hm out of step with most Wisconsin voters.
Although Johnson and Barnes are political opposites, they have already begun using strikingly similar language to define the other, calling one another “out of touch,” extreme and someone out of line with the state’s voters.
Omar survives a surprising nail-biter
Samuels had run as a pro-police critic of Omar’s calls to “defund the police.” Samuels and his wife successfully sued the city of Minneapolis to force it to increase police staffing levels to the 741 officers required by the city’s charter.
Momentum behind what had been widely seen as a long-shot challenge built after Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey endorsed Samuels last week. He was also backed by building trades unions, several suburban mayors and more moderate DFL leaders. His close call could inspire another effort to oust Omar in 2024.