Four Key Races in Wisconsin, Minnesota Midterm Primaries

Voters in states including Wisconsin and Minnesota picked candidates for the U.S. Congress and other offices in primaries on Tuesday, in another test of former President Donald Trump’s influence in the Republican Party ahead of the November 8 midterms.

Vermont and Connecticut also held nomination contests, while Minnesota held a special election for its vacant 1st Congressional District. The following are four key races:

Wisconsin Republican governor’s primary

In its final stretch, the Republican nomination contest for Wisconsin’s gubernatorial race became another proxy battle between Trump and his estranged former vice president, Mike Pence.

Trump endorsed construction company owner Tim Michels in June, upending a race that until then was led by former state Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, who Pence endorsed in July.

On Tuesday, Michels defeated Kleefisch, according to Edison Research. It was the third high-profile race this year in which Pence and Trump backed opposing candidates. In the previous contests, Pence-backed Georgia Governor Brian Kemp won the party nomination for his re-election bid, while Trump-backed Kari Lake, a former news anchor, won the Republican nomination for the Arizona governor’s race.

Pence, who like Trump is considering running for president in 2024, has recently distanced himself from Trump’s repeated falsehoods that the 2020 election was stolen.

Wisconsin Democratic US senate primary

In the race to challenge Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, a progressive backed by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, easily won the Democratic nomination after a leading moderate opponent dropped out of the race in late July. The focus now shifts to Barnes’ ability to appeal to moderate voters in the race against Johnson, which could be one of November’s tightest and most consequential Senate races.

Minnesota Republican governor’s primary

Former Minnesota state senator Scott Jensen, who has vowed he will try to ban most abortions in the state, won the Republican Party nomination for the governor’s race.

Despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, abortion remains legal under state law in Minnesota. Jensen recently said he supports abortion rights in cases of rape or incest.

Jensen, a physician who has cast doubt on the seriousness of COVID-19, will now face Democratic Governor Tim Walz in November. Walz is seen as potentially vulnerable.

Minnesota special congressional election

Democrats face an uphill battle to gain the U.S. House of Representatives seat left vacant following the February death of Republican U.S. Representative Jim Hagedorn.

Ahead of Tuesday’s special election, Republican Brad Finstad, a former agriculture official in the Trump administration, was ahead of Democrat Jeff Ettinger 46% to 38%, according to a public opinion poll conducted in the last week of July by Survey USA.

Political observers have said the race could be close after Ettinger, a former CEO at Hormel Foods, spent early on television ads making the case that his business experience set him up as a problem-solver on run-away food prices.

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