What to Watch in Tuesday’s Primaries

Four states have primary elections today. People are heading to the voting booths in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin on Tuesday for primaries. 

There is much to look for in the primaries this week. Abortion is massively coming into focus in both Wisconsin and Minnesota. 

The primaries are coming a week after Kansas voters firmly rejected an attempt to restrict abortion. The issue will play a key role in midterms, as Republican candidates for governor vow to ban rights to an abortion if elected. 

In Wisconsin, the two top contenders for the Republican nomination to run for governor on Nov. 8, construction magnate Tim Michels and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, say they will enforce a 19th-century abortion ban that has prompted providers to stop offering the procedure since the Supreme Court eliminated the nationwide right in June.

The Republican matchup in the Wisconsin governor’s race features is the latest proxy battle between Trump and the GOP party, featuring competing candidates endorsed by former President Trump and his estranged vice president Mike Pence. Trump has thrown his weight behind Michels, who has poured millions of dollars of his own money into the race. 

With a Republican-majority legislature, either candidate could push through abortion restrictions as governor. Democratic incumbent Tony Evers and his administration have filed litigation challenging the 1849 law while promising not to prosecute doctors who violate it.

In Minnesota, U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar faces a Democratic primary challenger who helped defeat a voter referendum to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety.

There is also a similar dynamic at play around abortion rights in Minnesota, where Republicans on Tuesday will select a nominee to take on Democratic Governor Tim Walz in November. 

The leading Republican is former state Senator Scott Jensen, a physician who has pledged to try to ban most abortions and has cast doubt on the seriousness of the Covid pandemic. Abortion is still legal in Minnesota, and Democrats control one of the two legislative chambers.

In Vermont, voters are choosing a replacement for U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy as the chamber’s longest-serving member retires. 

In Connecticut, it has been roughly three decades since the state had a Republican in the Senate, but the party has not given up. There is a GOP primary to take on Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, and the party has endorsed former state House Minority Leader Themis Klarides. She’s a social moderate who supports abortion rights and certain gun control measures and says she did not vote for Trump in 2020. Klarides is being challenged by two other nominees,  conservative attorney Peter Lumaj and Republican National Committee member Leora Levy, the latter of which has the Trump endorsement. 

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