ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia takes center stage in Tuesday’s primary as Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger attempt to fend off challengers backed by former President Donald Trump, who is seeking revenge for his 2020 election defeat in the state.
US Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia is testing Republican voters’ tolerance for controversy in their primary. On the Democrat side, US Rep. Lucy McBath and Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux face each other after McBath switched districts in a new election.
In Alabama, three Republicans are in a close race to be nominated to replace outgoing US Senator Richard Shelby. In Arkansas, former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders is a front-runner for the Republican nomination for governor.
In Texas, two runoff elections are drawing outsize attention: Attorney General Ken Paxton is trying to stop Land Commissioner George P. Bush while Rep. Henry Cuellar is trying to fend off his progressive challenger in a 2020-start rematch.
What to watch in Tuesday’s primary elections in Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas and Minnesota:
Trump’s desire for revenge has fueled the biggest challenges for Kemp and Raffensperger, both of whom resisted his pressure to overturn the results of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election.
Trump recruited former US Senator David Perdue to run against Kemp for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, but Perdue lagged in polls and fundraising. Kemp was increasingly confident the GOP will send him to a rematch in November with Stacey Abrams, who is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
Raffensperger, the state’s top election official, faces a tough challenge from US Rep. Jody Hice, who has peddled Trump’s lies that widespread voter fraud or rigging cost him the 2020 election.
Trump’s nominee for the US Senate, football legend Herschel Walker, appears to be nearing the Republican nomination, although some GOP leaders have warned Walker will be ineligible against Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock in November. Walker was accused of threatening his ex-wife’s life, exaggerating his business record and lying about his degree from the University of Georgia.
Greene, a political lightning rod, attempts to fend off several Republican challengers. The Trump-backed arsonist was stripped of her committee duties last year over racist remarks, her acceptance of conspiracy theories and a past advocacy of violence. A group of voters tried but failed to have her removed from the ballot box, blaming her for helping to foment the Jan. 6 riot in the US Capitol.
In the Atlanta area, an unfavorable new district saw Rep. McBath enter a Democratic primary against fellow compatriot Bourdeaux. McBath said her push to remain in Congress was to fight for gun safety on behalf of her son Jordan, who was killed in a shooting 10 years ago.
Shelby’s resignation started a heated and expensive primary for the GOP nomination for the seat.
Rep. Mo Brooks meets Katie Britt, former Chair of the Business Council of Alabama and former Shelby Chief of Staff, and businessman Mike Durant, best known for being the helicopter pilot involved in the events chronicled in Black Hawk Down shot down and held captive.”
Trump initially supported Brooks last year but withdrew support in March after their relationship deteriorated. Trump made no further confirmation in the race. The broken field increases the odds of the race going into the June 21 runoff.
Republican Gov. Kay Ivey is trying to avoid a runoff as she faces multiple challengers from her right flank.
Lindy Blanchard, who was Trump’s ambassador to Slovenia, and businessman Tim James have criticized Ivey’s support for a gas tax hike and her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has included a temporary mask mandate and calls for people to be vaccinated. They also criticized Ivey for a charter school that welcomed LGBTQ students.
Ivey has stressed her conservative record, including signing legislation – now blocked by the courts – to make abortion a crime at any stage of pregnancy. In one campaign spot, the governor pulls a pistol from her purse to show her support for illegal concealed carry.
In Arkansas, two-year-old US Senator John Boozman is hoping to fend off a challenge from three Republican rivals in a race that has seen him rely on his support from Trump and the state’s top GOP figures.
The mild-mannered Boozman has taken a more aggressive tone in his campaign ads, vowing to complete the wall along the US-Mexico border.
Boozman’s rivals include former NFL player Jake Bequette, who has the backing of a super PAC that has aired ads attacking Boozman for not being conservative enough, and Jan Morgan, a conservative activist and former television reporter.
Sanders, Trump’s former spokeswoman, is heavily favored for governor in her Republican primary. She faces a lengthy main challenge from former talk show radio host Doc Washburn.
Sanders has broken fundraising records and focused primarily on national issues. She has run spots criticizing President Joe Biden on issues like inflation while ignoring her rivals.
Five Democrats are seeking the party’s nomination for governor, with nuclear engineer and ordained minister Chris Jones leading the way.
The candidates are running to succeed Republican governor Asa Hutchinson, who is barred from re-election due to term limits.
Texas held the first primary of 2022 back in March, but the runoffs will finally decide two big races.
One is jeopardizing the Bush family dynasty: Republican George P. Bush, a son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, has spent the past year presenting a major challenge to Paxton, the two-year Attorney General.
George P. Bush is the last of his family to hold public office and finished a primary 20 percentage points behind Paxton. Since then, Bush’s efforts to bridge the gap have focused on highlighting Paxton’s legal troubles, including an ongoing FBI probe into corruption allegations and a separate 2015 indictment for securities fraud.
Paxton, who has denied wrongdoing, has broad party support and Trump’s endorsement.
On the Democrat side, Rep. Cuellar’s 10th term bid ran squarely into a revived national abortion rights struggle. His position as one of the last anti-abortion Democrats in Congress has become a central issue in his runoff against Jessica Cisneros, a 28-year-old immigration attorney and abortion rights supporter.
The leaders of the Democratic House of Representatives have lined up behind Cuellar. Cisneros was about 1,000 votes behind Cuellar in March, but Cuellar failed to reach the 50 percent hurdle to avoid a runoff.
A primary Tuesday in southern Minnesota’s 1st congressional district is a first step in replacing Republican US Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who died of cancer in February. A special election to fill the remainder of Hagedorn’s term in the Republican district is scheduled for August 9.
Hagedorn’s widow, Jennifer Carnahan, has made the most blatant appeals to Trump’s supporters. She was state leader of the Minnesota Republican Party until she was evicted last August after a prominent donor was accused of sex trafficking.
State Assemblyman Jeremy Munson, a founder of a far-right faction that has seceded from the Minnesota House GOP faction, has been backed by US scythes Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Former State Rep. Brad Finstad has the support of several Minnesota GOP officials. He has reminded voters that he was Trump’s Minnesota director for USDA Rural Development.
On the Democrat side, Jeffrey Ettinger, the former CEO of Hormel Foods, is the nominee who was endorsed at the party’s district convention earlier this month. Among his opponents is University of Minnesota law professor Richard Painter, a former White House ethics attorney for President George W. Bush.
Associated Press writer Kim Chandler in Montgomery, Alabama; Andrew DeMillo in Little Rock, Ark; Paul Weber in Austin, Texas; and Steve Karnowski of St. Paul, Minnesota contributed to this report.
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