Outside of the most high-profile race of Tuesday night in the Columbus area of Ohio, voters went to the polls in four other states, selecting congressional and Senate candidates in some closely watched races, as well as gubernatorial contenders.
And the one consistent trend of the year continued for the Democratic Party: the selection of female candidates in scores of races. Women have been winning primaries on the Democratic side in great numbers throughout the cycle, and on Tuesday, voters selected two more female candidates for gubernatorial elections. That brings the total nominee count to eight on the Democratic side, and three on the Republican side as well, with many having the opportunity to make history in November. The prior record was 10 in 1994.
In Kansas, state Sen. Laura Kelly easily won her primary, capturing more than 50 percent of the vote. She will either face Secretary of State Kris Kobach or incumbent Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer, who were locked in a tight contest as of midnight on Tuesday.
Kobach’s surge followed a late tweet endorsement from President Trump, who had reportedly been asked to remain out of the race, out of fear that a Kobach win could help amp up Democrats already energized by the tenure of former Republican governor Sam Brownback.
Kobach, known to most national audiences as a driving force behind the short-lived Commission on Election Integrity, which sought to validate the president’s claims of voter fraud, catapulted to the top of the primary heap with hardline immigration views and a history of attempted voter suppression in his own state.
In Michigan, part of the so-called Democratic blue wall that infamously cracked narrowly in Trump’s favor in 2016, Democrats selected former state senator Gretchen Whitmer as their nominee. She beat out a challenge from Shri Thanedar, the owner of a chemical testing lab in Ann Arbor who spent a lot of his own money on the race and was viewed with deep skepticism by some progressives. The third man in the primary was Abdul El-Sayed, the Muslim-American former executive director of the Detroit Health Department, who ran on a platform of Medicare for All and zero PAC donations, among other broad leftist platforms. He was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and New York Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and surged into second place in the vote.
Whitmer will face the Trump-endorsed Attorney General Bill Schuette in the general election.
In a Senate race once seen as potentially competitive, incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) is now seen as a heavy favorite against GOP nominee John James, an Iraq War veteran who was backed by Trump.
Whitmer and Kelly join Stacey Abrams, a former State House leader and Georgia gubernatorial candidate; Paulette Jordan, Idaho’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate; and Lupe Valdez, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Texas, among other women running nationwide.