If it’s Tuesday, it’s Primary Night in Broken America! This week, nominating contests were held in Georgia, Alabama, and Arkansas—with some bonus “Texas-sized” runoffs in Texas. Let’s get down in the mud and blog some results!
In the main-event state of the night, Donald Trump’s plot for revenge against state politicians who didn’t overturn the 2020 presidential election results failed. Badly.
Gov. Brian Kemp obliterated Trump’s recruited challenger, former Sen. David Perdue. He will now face Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams in a rematch of 2018’s close election.
Attorney General Chris Carr similarly dispatched his Trump-backed challenger, John Gordon.
And in the most competitive of these state government races, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger—the state official who most aggressively pushed back against Trump’s election lies and pressuring—beat his main challenger, Rep. Jody Hice.
It’s the worst primary night of the year for Trump thus far, and the chatter about his power atop the party will resume.
Herschel Walker, the ex-Georgia football star who had the support of both Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell, coasted to victory in the GOP Senate primary. He will face Sen. Raphael Warnock in a general election that will make many consultants, vendors, and owners of Georgia television affiliates wealthy.
On the Democratic side, Rep. Lucy McBath beat freshman Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in a member-on-member primary prompted by state legislators smushing their suburban Atlanta districts together. Bourdeaux was one of the “Unbreakable Nine”—moderates labeled by the centrist advocacy group No Labels, who pushed to get a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill before Congress passed the Build Back Better Act. She got her wish, but the Build Back Better Act never passed. And now she’s out of that job. Another of “the Nine,” Kurt Schrader, lost his primary in Oregon last week. A third, ex-Texas Rep. Filemon Vela, left to become a lobbyist. They seem relatively breakable, in an electoral context.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene won her primary with ease and will win her general election with ease, too.
In the governor’s race, former Trump White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders won the Republican nomination to replace term-limited Gov. Asa Hutchinson, meaning she’s going to be the next governor of Arkansas. Sanders played the game shrewdly, by having a popular former Arkansas governor be her father.
Sen. John Boozman beat off primary challengers in his quest for renomination, despite some MAGA griping that he didn’t vote to overturn the presidential election. Among his opponents was Jake Bequette, described pithily by Insider as “a former Arizona Razorbacks football star, US Army veteran, and New England Patriots defensive end who was on the team’s practice squad during their Super Bowl-winning 2014 season.”
Rep. French Hill, the only Arkansas Republican who ever even tasted general-election danger in recent cycles, was shored up in redistricting. On Tuesday, he defeated his challenger, who had legally changed his first name to “Colonel” from “Conrad” because he didn’t appreciate people calling him “Connie,” a girly name.
The race to replace longtime Sen. Richard Shelby has seen a true white whale in recent politics: A Republican primary candidate rising after Trump unendorses him. That’s what’s happened to Rep. Mo Brooks, who rose in polls late in the race after Trump had ditched him.
It’s good enough for a spot in the runoff, at least. No one secured more than 50 percent of the vote, so Katie Britt, a former chief of staff to Shelby, will face Brooks in a race set to take place June 21. Brooks will be an underdog in the runoff. But he’s made it surprisingly far. (Mike Durant, the former Army pilot with a nightmarish family backstory, conceded on Tuesday.)
Gov. Kay Ivey is poised to avoid a runoff against either of her challengers, former Trump Ambassador Lynda Blanchard and businessman Tim James, the son of former Gov. Fob James and no fan of yoga. Ivey had cranked up the culture-war dial to insulate herself.
Yee-haw! Attorney General Ken Paxton has been under felony indictment since 2015 and has plenty of other corruption allegations swirling against him. He’s … let’s see here … so crooked he has to unscrew his britches at night, if not slicker than a boiled onion. Anyway, he comfortably won renomination against challenger George P. Bush, son of John Ellis Bush “J.E.B.” Bush. (No but really, that’s the end of the Bush dynasty.)
Meanwhile, in the Democrat runoff for Texas’ 28th House District along the Southern border, progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros and Rep. Henry Cuellar were deadlocked with nearly all votes counted late Tuesday night. Cuellar defeated Cisneros in 2020, but progressives hoped it might be different this time. Cuellar, you see, has opposed elements of Biden’s agenda, had his house raided by the FBI in January, and is one of the last remaining anti-abortion Democrats in Congress at a time when the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. But he may just pull it off anyway—and he’ll have done so with the strong, sometimes perplexing backing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who thinks his more conservative views are necessary to hold a district that’s rapidly trending away from Democrats.
There were other races, too.