Primary elections: Billionaires, Trump’s influence and the first elections after Roe v. Wade was overturned

Eight states will hold primary and runoff elections Tuesday, which will be the first electoral reactions since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last Friday. 

Tuesday’s races include a gubernatorial primary with over $136 million spent on advertisements thus far, several contentious U.S. House primaries and a race to be the top elections official in Colorado that includes a Republican candidate that allegedly committed a breach of the state’s voting machines. 

Colorado Governor, Senate and Secretary of State

Of the states holding races on Tuesday, the issue of abortion access and which party determines that may be most vulnerable to change in Colorado. Democrats in the state have recently passed a law that codifies abortion rights. . 

Colorado is in a unique position, since many of the surrounding by states either had trigger laws  or had more restrictive abortion laws proposed, such as Wyoming, Utah, Nebraska, Arizona and Oklahoma and further away, Texas.

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In Colorado’s 3rd District, Don Coram (top left) is challenging Lauren Boebert (top right). In Illinois’ 15th District, Rep. Rodney Davis is challening Rep. Mary Miller. 

AP/Getty Images/Getty Images/Getty Images


Incumbent Democratic Governor Jared Polis is not facing a primary challenger, but there are two Republicans running to take him on in November. Former Parker, Colorado, Mayor Greg Lopez and businesswoman Heidi Ganahl have both said in the wake of the Dobbs decision that they are opposed to abortions in most circumstances. Ganahl told Colorado Public Radio in June that she opposes the new law that protects abortion access. 

In the GOP primary to take on Democratic incumbent Senator Michael Bennet, there is a clear difference between the two Republican candidates on abortion. Businessman Joe O’Dea doesn’t believe in an abortion ban, and said he doesn’t think the government should be involved in that decision, according to an interview with Colorado Public Radio.

“That’s not a decision that I think I should make for someone else. I’m going to stay where I’m at. I’m not going to budge. It’s important to me,” he said. 

His main opponent, State Representative Ron Hanks, opposes abortion and said he does not support any exceptions. 

While he has made other issues like immigration and energy the forefront of his campaign, Hanks has former President Donald Trump’s stance that the 2020 election was “stolen” and has pushed for legislation that would eliminate mail-in voting and early voting. Hanks has declined to say whether he will accept the results of the primary election.

“We obviously have to see what we have to see here,” Hank said during a primary debate earlier this month.

He was also outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, but has told CBS News he did not go inside.

“It was very ill-advised for anyone to go into the Capitol,” Hanks said at the primary debate. “I wouldn’t go up the stairs to the steps.”

The “Democratic Colorado” group has been the highest spenders in the primary, with $4.2 million spent focused on Hanks for the primary, according to data from AdImpact. 

Hanks has also sued Colorado Secretary of State Jen Griswold to initiate a third-party “audit” of the 2020 election in Colorado. President Joe Biden won the state by just over 13 points. 

Griswold, a Democrat, has three Republicans vying to take her on in November. One is Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who was indicted on 10 counts in relation to an investigation into elections equipment tampering. She has pleaded not guilty.

Peters believes the 2020 election was stolen and told the Colorado Sun, “This is a personal opinion based on the evidence that I have seen and gone through and based on what I know from our reports. I do believe there may have been enough fraud that it turned the election.”

Businessman Mike O’Donnell has not been clear on if he believes Mr. Biden was legitimately elected, but has said the focus should be on elections this year and after. Another Republican candidate, Pam Anderson, has said she believes the 2020 results were valid.

Illinois governor’s race 

Illinois’ race for governor has turned into a race between billionaires, as well as another example of Democrats attempting to boost a further-right opponent to help their chances in November. 

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin was seen as a formidable general election candidate against incumbent Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker when he jumped into the race. The mayor of the state’s second-most populated city, Aurora, Illinois, he is a notable Black Republican in the state and was bankrolled with over $50 million from GOP megadonor Ken Griffin. 

But then even more money got involved.

Richard Uiline, owner of the Uline shipping company and a pro-Trump donor, backed state Senator Darren Bailey, a further right legislator who sued Pritzker over his stay-at-home orders in the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, with over $9 million dollars. Trump backed Bailey at a rally Saturday in central Illinois. 

Pritzker’s campaign and the Democratic Governors Association has spent over $37 million on ads, while the DGA has spent over $24 million, according to data from AdImpact. Pritzker, whose family owns the Hyatt hotel chain, has also cut a check of at least $90 million for his campaign. 

The ads have looked to boost Bailey as “too conservative,” a potential appeal to the base of Republican primary voters and a sign they believe Pritzker has a better chance against him in the general election. 

One of the ads by the DGA that ran from May 13 to June 22 highlighted how Bailey “proudly embraces the Trump agenda” by “fighting for gun owners and the unborn.” Another attacks Irvin’s record as a defense lawyer and says he has put “violent criminals back on the street,” a similar line used by Republicans against Democrats in ads about crime. 

Irvin, whose campaign has spent $43.7 million on ads, has shied away from talking about red meat topics for Republicans such as Trump, as well as what he’d do as governor about abortion. His campaign has instead taken a general election messaging approach and has focused on addressing crime, particularly in Chicago, and cutting taxes.

A poll by the Chicago Sun-Times/WBEZ showed Irvin down 15 points in the Republican primary to Bailey. This poll was released before Griffin received Trump’s endorsement. 

“I’ve made a promise to President Trump that in 2024, Illinois will roll the red carpet out for him because Illinois will be ready for President Trump,” Bailey said at the rally. 

Other Republican candidates running include venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan, businessman Gary Rabine, former state senator Paul Schimpf and attorney Max Solomon. Pritzker is facing one Democratic challenger in veteran Beverly Miles. 

House seats in Illinois 

As a result of redistricting, and an aggressive gerrymander by state Democratic legislators, Illinois has two incumbent vs. incumbent Congressional primaries.

Rep. Rodney Davis, an establishment Republican who previously represented a more politically competitive district, was drawn into a ruby red seat in the sprawling 15th District in central Illinois. He has been in a combative primary with Rep. Mary Miller, a firebrand conservative serving her first term in Congress.

Trump has endorsed Miller and backed her at Saturday’s rally with Bailey. During that rally, Miller said the Supreme Court’s overturning Roe v. Wade is a “historic victory for white life.” Her campaign has said she misread prepared remarks and meant to say “right to life.”

On Sunday, Davis’ campaign said the gaffe is “just another part in a disturbing pattern of behavior she’s displayed since coming to Congress.” His campaign had previously highlighted Miller’s speech in January 2021 where she praised Adolf Hitler when talking about education.

“If we win a few elections, we’re still going to be losing, unless we win the hearts and minds of our children. This is the battle. Hitler was right on one thing: He said, ‘Whoever has the youth, has the future.’ Our children are being propagandized,” she said at a “Moms for America” rally in Washington, D.C. She has apologized and said she is “passionately pro-Israel.”

Davis, who was an Illinois co-chair of Trump’s 2020 campaign and had been an ally of the former president in a tough district, voted to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack.  This is different from the current select committee investigating Jan. 6, which only has just two Republicans – Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger.

Miller and allies have used that vote against him in ads and on the campaign trail. 

Davis’ campaign and allies have focused on his record, particularly his work on Trump’s 2017 tax bill, and have ratcheted up highlighting Davis’ stances on abortion and immigration to appeal to Republican voters.

But Republican operatives in the state and in Washington see Miller as the frontrunner in the race against Davis, who has been in Congress since 2013, in part due to the new district lines and the hyper-partisan nature of primary voters.

Miller has also benefited from outside spending from two allied groups that have blanketed the airwaves and have tied Davis to Democrats. The Club for Growth Action PAC and the Conservative Outsider PAC are the top spenders in the race with a combined $4.6 million spent on ads against Davis. 

Another primary to watch in Illinois is the Democratic primary in the 6th District between Reps. Sean Casten and Marie Newman. The two have only represented a portion of the newly drawn 6th District, which leans Democratic by about eight points according to Dave’s Redistricting App. 

Newman has looked to portray herself as the more progressive option but has been dogged by a report from the Office of Congressional Ethics, which alleged there was “substantial reason to believe” she inappropriately offered a potential 2020 primary opponent a position in her Congressional office if he dropped out. 

Newman has denied any wrongdoing. The Democratic Majority for Israel group, which has ties to the pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has been running an ad highlighting the report in the closing weeks. 

Casten’s daughter died earlier this month, which resulted in ads from both campaigns being temporarily pulled. Casten had previously represented a battleground House district and has highlighted his experience running in tight races.

In Illinois’ 7th District, progressive gun violence prevention activist Kina Collins is looking to upset longtime Democratic incumbent Danny Davis. Collins lost to Davis handily in 2020, but has upped her fundraising this cycle. She has been backed by the progressive Justice Democrats group and argues that Chicago’s problems with gun violence require a new approach.

Meanwhile, President Biden has also waded into this race in the 11th hour, endorsing Davis over the weekend. This is his second notable House endorsement during a primary, his first one for Rep. Kurt Schrader in Oregon’s 5th District proved unsuccessful as Schrader lost to progressive Jamie McLeod-Skinner. 

The Democratic and Republican primaries in Illinois’ 17th District are also worth watching. The district, formerly held by retiring Democratic Rep. and former chair of the House Democrat Campaign arm Cheri Bustos, is considered a toss up race in November. 

New York governor

Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin of eastern Long Island and Andrew Giuliani, son of former New York City Mayor and former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, are the top candidates in the GOP primary for New York governor.

Zeldin, elected to Congress in 2014, had been endorsed by the state’s Republican party and is the lead fundraiser in the primary. He launched his campaign to run against Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, before Cuomo resigned in Aug. 2019 and his lieutenant governor Kathy Hochul took over.

A pro-life, pro-gun Republican, Zeldin supported Trump during his 2016 run, had been a vocal critic of Trump’s impeachment in 2019 and had objected to the certification of the electoral results in Pennsylvania after the Jan. 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol. 

He had attacked other candidates at a Newsmax debate for being “never-Trumpers” but said he’s his “own man” when asked where he falls on the political spectrum between former Vice President Mike Pence, who has backed Zeldin, and Trump, who has not endorsed anyone. 

Andrew Giuliani only has a fraction of what Zeldin has raised and has never held office before, but held a fundraiser on Trump’s golf course in New Jersey and led Zeldin among Republicans in a June Siena College poll. 

His father campaigned for him in the closing weeks of the race, as well as throughout the House Jan. 6 committee hearings, during which Rudy Giuliani’s name was often brought up as part of the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Andrew Giuliani and his father held an event on Friday with Doug Mastriano, a state senator and Republican nominee for governor in Pennsylvania who has also made baseless claims that the 2020 election was “stolen.” 

“The other side wants to distract us about Jan. 6, or they want to distract us about COVID, or they want to distract us about Roe v. Wade. Meanwhile people in this area, and my part of the state across the border here, struggle to make ends meet,” Mastriano said, flanked by Andrew and Rudy Giuliani. 

Other Republican candidates are Westchester County Executive and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Rob Astorino and businessman Harry Wilson. 

All candidates have made crime in New York City, inflation and political corruption staples of their argument to be the first Republican governor of the Empire State since George Pataki in 2006. 

The winner will have an uphill battle to take on Governor Hochul, the frontrunner in the Democratic primary. 

Incumbent Gov. Hochul has two primary challengers on her right in Rep. Tom Suozzi of Long Island and her left in New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. Both had originally announced they were running against Cuomo. 

A fundraising powerhouse, Hochul has raised more than $30 million for her campaign and has spent more than $14 million on advertising, the most out of any candidate according to data from AdImpact.

Hochul’s pitch to voters has focused on her tenure as governor thus far, as well as on her support for gun control reform in the wake of the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, her hometown. 

Williams has focused on the housing crisis and has said Hochul has not gone far enough on issues like climate change or gun violence. 

Suozzi has criticized Hochul’s past “A” rating from the National Rifle Association and has made crime and more strict sentencing laws a centerpoint of his campaign. Suozzi has also pointed to the Hochul’s first pick for Lieutenant Governor, Brian Benjamin, who resigned after being indicted in a campaign finance scheme

New York lieutenant governor

Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado is the incumbent candidate in the race for lieutenant governor, after Hochul picked him to replace Benjamin. But he has two challengers already in the race, with former Brooklyn Deputy Borough President and New York City Councilor Diana Reyna and progressive Ana Maria Archila. 

Delgado won a competitive race in 2018 to flip New York’s 19th District from red to blue and has only held the lieutenant governors’ seat since May 25. 

Archila has been backed by Delgado’s former colleague in the House, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and is Williams’ running mate. Ocasio-Cortez invited Archila as her state of the union guest in 2019 after Archila went viral for confronting then-Arizona Senator Jeff Flake during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh. 

If elected, she’d become New York’s first Latina and openly LGBTQ candidate to hold statewide office.

Archila has been backed by groups and politicians that have endorsed Hochul, and said during a debate she would not “be a lieutenant governor who is quietly in the background smiling and cutting ribbons.”

In contrast, Delgado portrayed a more symbiotic relationship between the two officeholders. 

“You try to have disagreements in a way where the objective is to put your best foot forward for your shared objectives and goals. And what is the shared objective and goals of the administration? It’s to better the state,” Delgado said in the debate.

The winner will face Republican Alison Esposito, Zeldin’s running mate and a former New York City Police Department Deputy Inspector. 

House seats in Colorado

In the state’s 3rd District, rightwing controversial Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert is being challenged by state Senator Don Coram. Due to Colorado’s primary system where independent voters receive ballots for both parties, that block of voters could be key to whether Boebert survives her challenge.

According to data from Colorado’s Secretary of State, close to 43% of the voters in this district identify as unaffiliated. Coram, a typical Republican candidate on most issues, has made a direct appeal to that group and tried to draw a contrast with the more controversial Boebert.

“I don’t tweet 10 times a day. I didn’t try to get on TV,” he said in his campaign launch video. “Call me boring if you want, but tweets and somebody trying to get famous does not feed our families.”

Boebert has remained the top fundraiser in the race with over $5 million raised and more than $2 million cash on hand. 

Three Democrats are running to take on Boebert or Coram in November: Aspen, Colorado city councilman Adam Frisch, community organizer and proressive Soledad Sandoval Tafoya and engineer Alex Walker. 

Due to its population growth, Colorado added a new 8th Congressional District in the Denver suburbs. The seat was drawn to be a political toss-up, though only one Democrat is running: Yadira Caraveo, a pediatrician. 

Four Republicans are running to claim the new seat: veteran Tyler Allcorn, state senator Barbara Kirkmeyer, mayor of Thornton, Colorado, Jan Kulmann and Lori Saine, a Weld County commissioner. 

Kulmann is the lead fundraiser of the group, though Saine has taken notable stances on abortion (she sponsored a bill that would make it illegal in all circumstances) and is the only candidate of the four that has not said if she believes Biden’s election win in 2020 was legitimate. 

Colorado’s 7th District, left open by Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter, will also be competitive in November. Democratic state Sen. Brittany Pettersen is unopposed, while three other Republicans are looking to flip the seat in November: veteran Erik Aadland, economist Tim Reichert and Laurel Imer, a former county campaign chair for Trump in 2016.

Mississippi and South Carolina runoffs, Oklahoma primaries

Mississippi has three Republicans in runoff elections on the ballot Tuesday, with two involving Republican incumbents. Rep. Michael Guest of Mississippi’s 3rd District voted to create the  bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attacks. This commission is different from the current iteration of the Jan. 6 commission that is currently investigating the attacks. 

His vote has been the main crux of his challenge on the right from former Navy fighter pilot Michael Cassidy. 

Cassidy received the most votes on primary night, with 47.5% of the vote compared to Guest’s 46.9%.

The House GOP-backed Congressional Leadership Fund has come in for reinforcements for Guest, spending over $472,000 on ads.

Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi’s 4th District is in a runoff with sheriff Mike Ezell. Palazzo was the subject of a report by the Office of Congressional Ethics that found he had likely misspent his campaign funds for his own personal use. Palazzo has pushed back and called those allegations false.

Oklahoma has both of their Senate seats on the ballot this year, after longtime Republican Senator Jim Inhofe announced his retirement. The open seat left by Inhofe has attracted more than 13 Republicans to file their candidacies, including Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma’s 2nd District. Meanwhile, former Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn, who flipped an Oklahoma City-area seat from red to blue in 2018 before losing it in 2020, is the only Democrat running to fill Inhofe’s seat. 

Incumbent Republican Senator James Lankford is also up for re-election this year. He has two Republican challengers and six potential Democratic nominees in the fall, but has a clear fundraising advantage over the field with $6 million raised thus far.

South Carolina Democrats will cement their nominee this November in the runoff between state representative Krystle Matthews and Catherine Fleming Bruce. The winner will face off against Republican incumbent Senator Tim Scott, who has raised a massive $33 million so far this cycle and has $24 million cash on hand.

Nebraska’s special election

Voters in Nebraska’s 1st District will choose between Republican Rep. Mike Flood and Democrat Patty Pansing Brooks in a special election to fill former Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s seat. Flood is expected to win the special election and serve the rest of Fortenberry’s term. 

Fortenberry resigned in March after being convicted of lying to federal authorities about an illegal campaign donation from a foreign national. He will be sentenced on Tuesday, according to KOLN. 

Musadiq Bidar contributed reporting.

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