ATLANTA — Georgia takes center stage in Tuesday’s primary election as Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger try to fend off challengers backed by former President Donald Trump, who is seeking revenge for his 2020 election defeat in the state.
U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia is testing Republican voters’ tolerance for controversy in her primary. On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux face off after McBath changed districts due to a redistricting.
In Alabama, three Republicans are in a tight race for the nomination to replace retired U.S. Senator Richard Shelby. In Arkansas, former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders is leading the Republican nomination for governor.
In Texas, two runoffs are attracting outsized attention: Attorney General Ken Paxton is trying to hold off Lands Commissioner George P. Bush, while Rep. Henry Cuellar is trying to fend off his progressive challenger in a 2020 rematch.
What to watch in Tuesday’s primaries in Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas and Minnesota:
Trump’s desire for revenge fueled key challenges from Kemp and Raffensperger, who both defied his push to overturn the results of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election.
Trump recruited former U.S. Senator David Perdue to face Kemp for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, but Perdue has fallen behind in the polls and fundraising. Kemp is increasingly confident the GOP will send him to a November rematch with Stacey Abrams, who is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
Raffensperger, the state’s top election official, faces a tough challenge from U.S. Representative Jody Hice, who has promoted Trump’s lies that widespread voter fraud or tampering cost him the election of 2020.
Trump’s U.S. Senate nominee, football legend Herschel Walker, appears headed for the Republican nomination despite some GOP leaders warning that Walker will be ineligible in November against Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock. Walker was accused of threatening his ex-wife’s life, exaggerating his professional record and lying about graduating from the University of Georgia.
Greene, a political lightning rod, tries to ward off several Republican challengers. The Trump-backed brandon was stripped of his committee assignments last year due to racist remarks, his endorsement of conspiracy theories and a past endorsement of violence. A group of voters tried unsuccessfully to eliminate him from the ballot, accusing him of helping foment the January 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol.
In the Atlanta area, an unfavorable new district led Rep. McBath to embark on a Democratic primary against fellow Rep. Bourdeaux. McBath said his drive to stay in Congress is to fight for gun safety on behalf of his son Jordan, who was killed in a shooting 10 years ago.
Shelby’s retirement launched a heated and costly primary for the GOP nomination for the seat.
US Representative Mo Brooks faces Katie Britt, the former leader of the Business Council of Alabama and former Shelby chief of staff, and businessman Mike Durant, best known as the helicopter pilot shot down and held captive in the events chronicled in “Black Hawk Down.”
Trump originally endorsed Brooks last year, but withdrew the endorsement in March after their relationship soured. Trump did not make another endorsement in the race. The fractured terrain increases the chances of the race taking place on June 21.
Republican Governor Kay Ivey is trying to avoid a runoff as she faces several opponents from her right flank.
Lindy Blanchard, who was Trump’s ambassador to Slovenia, and businessman Tim James criticized Ivey’s support for a gas tax hike and his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic which included a temporary mask mandate and calls for people to get vaccinated. They also criticized Ivey for a charter school that welcomed LGBTQ students.
Ivey highlighted her conservative record, including signing legislation – now blocked by the courts – to make abortion a crime at any stage of pregnancy. In a campaign ad, the governor pulls a handgun from her purse to show her support for concealed carry without a license.
In Arkansas, two-term U.S. Senator John Boozman is hoping to fend off a challenge from three Republican rivals in a race in which he’s had to rely on his endorsement from Trump as well as the state’s top GOP figures.
The mild-mannered Boozman adopted a more aggressive tone in his campaign ads, promising 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 ran ads attacking Boozman as not being conservative enough, and Jan Morgan, a conservative activist and former reporter for television.
Sanders, Trump’s former spokeswoman, is heavily favored in her Republican gubernatorial primary. She faces a long-running main challenge from former talk show radio host Doc Washburn.
Sanders broke fundraising records and focused primarily on national issues, airing spots criticizing President Joe Biden on issues such as inflation while ignoring his rivals.
Five Democrats are seeking the party’s nomination for governor, with nuclear engineer and ordained minister Chris Jones the frontrunner.
Candidates are running to succeed Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson, who is barred from seeking re-election by term limits.
Texas held the first primary of 2022 in March, but the runoffs will ultimately settle two major races.
One puts the Bush family dynasty on the line: Republican George P. Bush, son of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, has spent the last year mounting a primary challenge to Paxton, the attorney general of two mandates.
George P. Bush is the last of his family still in public office and finished 20 percentage points behind Paxton in a four-way primary. Since then, Bush’s efforts to bridge the gap have focused on focusing on Paxton’s legal troubles, including an ongoing FBI investigation into corruption charges and a separate indictment in 2015 on securities fraud charges.
Paxton, who has denied wrongdoing, has broad party support and Trump’s approval.
On the Democratic side, Rep. Cuellar’s bid for a 10th term has come up head-on with a reinvigorated national battle over abortion rights. Her standing as one of the last remaining anti-abortion Democrats in Congress became a central issue in her runoff against Jessica Cisneros, a 28-year-old immigration lawyer and pro-abortion rights advocate.
Democratic House leaders lined up behind Cuellar. Cisneros trailed Cuellar by around 1,000 votes in March, but Cuellar did not reach the 50% threshold to avoid a runoff.
A Tuesday primary in southern Minnesota’s 1st congressional district is a first step to replacing Republican U.S. Representative Jim Hagedorn, who died of cancer in February. A special general election to fill the remainder of Hagedorn’s term in the Republican-leaning district is scheduled for Aug. 9.
Hagedorn’s widow, Jennifer Carnahan, made the most open appeals to Trump supporters. She was state chairwoman of the Minnesota Republican Party until she was expelled last August after a high-profile donor was charged with sex trafficking.
State Rep. Jeremy Munson, founder of a far-right faction that has broken away from the main Minnesota House GOP caucus, has been endorsed by U.S. senses Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Former state Rep. Brad Finstad has the backing of several Minnesota GOP leaders. He reminded voters that he was Trump’s Minnesota director for USDA rural development.
On the Democratic side, the endorsed nominee at the party’s district convention earlier this month is former Hormel Foods CEO Jeffrey Ettinger. His opponents include University of Minnesota law professor Richard Painter, a former White House ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush.
Associated Press writers Kim Chandler in Montgomery, Ala.; Andrew DeMillo in Little Rock, Ark.; Paul Weber in Austin, Texas; and Steve Karnowski in St. Paul, Minnesota, contributed to this report.
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