As primary results come in from Arizona to Washington, headlines are being driven by two big stories. The first is that voters in Kansas decided to reject a ballot measure limiting abortion in the Sunflower State. The second is that America First candidates are still the driving force of the GOP. With the media declaring the abortion measure a portent of doom for Republican hopes in November, is the assessment more wishful thinking than political prophecy?
Kansas Backs Abortion Access
On the ballot was the question of whether a state supreme court ruling from 2019 that said abortion rights were protected under the Kansas Constitution should be overturned. The result – with more than 96% of the votes counted – was a resounding no. An estimated 58.8% rejected the amendment, meaning that the status quo remains in place and abortions continue to be safeguarded in the state. A significant swath of left-leaning media outlets has heralded this result as the death knell for GOP aspirations in the November congressional elections. But the numbers tell a somewhat different story.
Incumbent Democrat Governor Laura Kelly won her primary handily with 93.8%, totaling 259,306 votes in all. And yet, if the electoral enthusiasm were with the Democrats in general rather than just for a specific ballot measure, one would assume Kelly’s vote share was the largest of the night … it wasn’t even close. Trump-backed Republican challenger Derek Schmidt, while receiving only 80% of his party’s votes, rang up a total of more than 360,000 ballots. Kelly took the state in 2018 by 5% with a total of 506,727 votes; almost this many turned out for the GOP primary yesterday.
The impetus was most certainly with the abortion access crowd, but that doesn’t by any means suggest that Kansas voters are willing to support an all-blue ticket come November.
Arizona Primary Results
Arizona GOP voters went all-in for America First candidates in Tuesday’s primaries. In the gubernatorial race, after trailing for most of the night, former news anchor and Trump endorsee Kari Lake managed to eke out the lead against Mike Pence-backed Karrin Taylor Robson. With 78% of the vote counted, Lake is now the frontrunner on 46%, 1.3% ahead of her rival. If her lead persists, she will face off against Democrat contender Katie Hobbs for the governor’s mansion.
The Senate competition saw Trump-backed venture capitalist Blake Masters and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich vying for the chance to take on incumbent Democrat Senator Mark Kelly. With more than 80% of the vote counted, Masters is a clear ten points ahead of second-place Jim Lamon and 20 points ahead of Brnovich.
A Michigan Upset
GOP incumbent representative, Peter Meijer, faced a stunning loss against Trump-endorsed challenger John Gibbs who – with more than 80% counted – is leading 51.9% against 48.1%. Meijer was famously one of the ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the January 6 riot. The former president celebrated on Truth Social, writing, “John Gibbs WON with a big surge in the end. Not a good time for Impeachers – 7 down, 3 to go! Thank you Michigan!”
Also in the Great Lakes State, more primary results hinted at Trump’s continued sway over American politics. Conservative media personality and businesswoman Tudor Dixon handily won her race for the gubernatorial nomination with 40.5% of the vote in a crowded field of five contenders. Coming in second place was Kevin Rinke, who took just 21.9% of the ballots cast. Dixon will face incumbent Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who ran unopposed.
In the race to replace retiring GOP Senator Roy Blunt, Democrat candidate Trudy Busch Valentine, a nurse and beer fortune heiress, beat her rival, former Marine Lucas Kunce by almost five points. Kunce was backed by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (I). However, all eyes were on the GOP contest in which Trump made a cryptic endorsement for “Eric.” Two candidates named Eric were on the ballot, Attorney General Eric Schmitt and former Governor Eric Greitens.
In what may be an epic case of political trolling, the former president declined to clarify which Eric he was supporting. Missouri voters chose Schmitt over Greitens by more than 25 points.
With the cost-of-living crisis and inflation showing no signs of abating, Democrats and their allies in the Fourth Estate will be crossing fingers that the Kansas abortion measure is a sign of electoral good tidings come November. And yet conservative voters across five states yesterday continued to offer their support in large numbers to candidates endorsed by the same president who nominated the Supreme Court Justices responsible for overturning Roe v. Wade.
The question that must be asked before the congressional elections is whether voters rejecting a change in the abortion status quo represents a backlash against the GOP or an embrace of the SCOTUS ruling that sent the decision back to the states.