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Pictured from left to right: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Republican candidate Karrin Taylor Robson, Roy Blunt and Republican candidate Kari Lake
While Donald Trump is no longer in office, his presence is definitely felt throughout the country's primaries. Photo: Getty Images.

Big primary day offers another litmus test for Trump candidates

These races will decide on key issues, as well as further measure Trump’s sway in the Republican Party.

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Editors note: This article was written by Carlos Nogueras and Alan Nuñez.

Aug. 2, 2022, is one of the busiest Tuesday primary days of the year, with five states holding elections for key appointments. This round of midterms also further reflects how much influence former President Donald Trump’s endorsements hold.

Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, Kansas, and Washington are holding elections on which key issues hinge, such as abortion access. 

Here are the races to keep an eye on:

Arizona

Up for grabs: U.S. Senator and Governor.

Who’s running for U.S. Senate?

All Senate candidates are potential GOP challengers of Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly with one major difference — only one is a Trump-endorsed candidate. Trump has expressed support for Blake Masters, Chief Operating Officer at Thiel, a venture capital firm. Masters himself is a venture capitalist and the president of Thiel’s Foundation. 

Thiel has invested upwards of $15 million in his campaign, according to the Federal Election Commission. 

Masters' opponents are businessman Jim Lamon, retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

In Trump’s endorsement, he called Masters a “great modern-day thinker” and “one of the most successful businessmen and investors in the Country.” The Trump-backed candidate also aligns with false widespread voter fraud claims. 

According to an Emerson poll, Blake Masters leads with 40% support with Lamon coming in second, at 22%. 

Who’s running for Governor? 

The Republican Governor primary is a race between Republican candidate Karrin Taylor Robson, a career politician, and Kari Lake, a former Fox News TV Anchor. 

Taylor has the support of Doug Ducey, current Arizona governor, and former Vice President Mike Pence. Although Taylor Robson maintains a relatively low profile on social media, she is in a statistical dead-heat with Lake, according to the Emerson poll. 

Lake is a fierce Trump advocate who is known for peddling conspiracy-related claims of voter fraud, amassing the support of MAGA constituents who share her belief. She is also known for showing animosity toward the media, calling their approach “ambushes.”

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The winner of that bout will face of with one of three Democratic candidates — Katie Hobbs, Aaron Lieberman, or Marco Lopez.

Kansas

Up for grabs: Governor.

Incumbent Democratic Governor Laura Kelly has a November showdown with Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt. Kelly, a former state senator, won her previous bid in 2018 running on a platform of education and the economy, bashing the previous Republican Governor Sam Brownback, and his failed economic policies.

Polls have Schmidt in a lead by a very tight margin

In Kansas, abortion is on the ballot

The issue that hinges on this race is the right to access abortions, as Kansas becomes the first state in the nation where voters will decide on the outcome. 

Following the historic ruling by the United States Supreme Court in June to overturn Roe v. Wade, states mobilized to outlaw the medical procedure at the state level, with many triggering laws to enact criminalization. 

While Kansas did not enact a trigger law due to a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling conferring the right to abortion, the state follows a unique shift in Republican strategy by introducing an amendment to its state constitution. 

The amendment language follows a Republican approach to curtail a Governor’s ability to veto, thus shifting the issue to voters, specifically noting that "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion."

Since the SCOTUS ruling, states across the nation have become battlegrounds for a right currently protected by the highest court. Messaging in Kansas has been warped, with many constituents receiving confusing outreach, stating that voting NO would entail losing the right to choose. The reality is contrary to the messaging, where voting no on constitutional amendments would mean women and birthing persons would keep their right to an abortion. 

Missouri

Up for grabs: U.S. Senator

Following the retirement announcement of Republican Senator Roy Blunt, the a U.S. Senator spot is up for grabs in a crowded 21-nominee pool. Former Governor Eric Greitens, who in 2018 resigned following a sex scandal and allegations of infidelity and domestic abuse from his ex-wife, is one of the Republican candidates, and it will be a test for all Missourians whether they want to re-elect the infamous figure in the historically Republican state. 

As of recent data, the leader on the Republican side is Attorney General Eric Schmitt followed by Republican Representative Vicky Hartzler. In third is Greitens, followed by Representative Billy Long. Despite denials of the allegations from Gretiens, both Hartzler and Schmitt have called on Greitens to drop out of the race on the campaign trail. 

Per polls completed in June, Greitens was leading the way, but anti-Greitens groups had reportedly spent over $11 million on advertisements going against the former governor. These groups include — “Show Me Values PAC” and “Save Missouri Values PAC.” 

On the Democratic side, two of the bigger candidates include former Marine Lucas Kunce and Philanthropist Trudy Busch Valentine, who has ties with Anheuser-Busch brewery. A poll as of late July had Busch Valentine four points ahead. 

An independent candidate running in November is John Wood, who served as senior investigative counsel for the House Select January 6 Committee. According to the Kansas City Star, as of Monday, Aug. 1, Wood had submitted over 22,000 signatures in order to get on the ballot as an independent candidate. 

Michigan

Up for grabs: Governor.

Of all the candidate pools across the many primaries on Aug. 2, the Michigan Republican candidate pool for governor is one of the most dysfunctional. Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer is looked at as a vulnerable candidate depending on who emerged from the Republican field. 

This past May, due to petition fraud, a court threw many candidates out of the race, including former Detroit Police Chief James Craig. As of now, five Republican candidates remain on the ballot. One of the Republican candidates initially favored to win against Whitmer was Trump-backed former actress and conservative anchor/activist Tudor Dixon. As of late, Dixon led in polls. 

In the time since, other candidates have risen and given a strong fight including Kevin Rinke, whose family is behind Pontiac, and he’s spent over $6.5 million on advertising against Dixon. He’s accused her of not being “Trumpy enough,” and also has the support of former Trump Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. As of this past Sunday, Rinke’s campaign went at Dixon who has been noncommittal with an answer on whether she believes the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. 

Along with Rinke and Dixon, some of the other candidates currently below them include January 6 attendee arrested by the FBI, Ryan Kelley. Kelley in recent polls over the last few months was placed in either third or fourth positions behind both Dixon and Rinke. 

Kelley and chiropractor Garrett Soldano created a group on Facebook during the pandemic that is anti-Whitmer, and are considered the grassroots candidates of this primary election. However, following many threats against Whitmer, Facebook would shut down the group. 

When it comes to the recent Supreme Court overturn of Roe v. Wade, all GOP candidates are on board with being one of the states to effectively ban the procedure. Whitmer however, is one of few who is trying to prevent the ban from taking effect in the state. 

In previous elections, Whitmer proved to be a terrific fundraiser during her first term and has of late spent over $9.7 million on advertisements attacking her Republican challengers. A Democratic organization created by the Democratic Governors Association called “Put Michigan First,” has been one of the top spenders on advertising supporting Whitmer, with over $23.3 million. 

Washington 

With polls closing at 8 p.m., two pro-impeachment Republican candidates hope to secure midterm primary victories in Washington, fending off any Democratic opponents. A prediction by Axios thinks that Democrats won’t win the top two spots in any race. 

U.S. Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Battle Ground) and Dan Newhouse (R-Sunnyside) were among 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump last year. 

This year, they face Trump loyalists, Loren Culp and Rep. Bradd Kilppert.

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