Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 21 (May 5, 2022)

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Democratic Edition

May 5, 2022

In this issue: Takeaways from Ohio’s primaries and the intensifying abortion debate in TX-28 runoff

May 3 primary results roundup

Ohio and Indiana held primary elections on Tuesday. Indiana’s ballot included state legislative elections, while Ohio’s did not, as redistricting is still underway. Key Democratic primaries took place in Ohio. Below, you’ll find results from marquee Democratic primaries and takeaways.

The big story of the night: Brown wins rematch with Turner in OH-11 

Ohio’s 11th Congressional District: Incumbent Rep. Shontel Brown defeated Nina Turner in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District for the second time in less than a year. Brown defeated Turner 66%-34% in this year’s primary and 50%-45% in the August 2021 special primary.

Brown assumed office in November 2021, succeeding Rep. Marcia Fudge (D), who resigned that year to become U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Brown said she kept her promise to work with President Joe Biden (D) by voting for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and campaigned on her record. Turner said Brown hadn’t done enough to change the material conditions of the district’s poor and low-income residents.

Biden endorsed Brown, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed Turner. The Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC endorsed Brown, a change from 2021 when it endorsed Turner. Brown became a member of the caucus after she took office. 

This is a Safe or Solid Democratic district, according to three election forecasters.

Other marquee primary results

U.S. Senate

  • Ohio Senate: Tim Ryan received 70% of the vote, defeating Morgan Harper and Traci Johnson. Incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R) is retiring. Race forecasters disagree on this race’s outlook, calling it Lean, Likely, or Solid Republican.


  • Nashville District Attorney: Incumbent Glenn Funk won with 43%. Sarah Beth Myers was second with 40%. Myers and P. Danielle Nellis criticized Funk’s record, including his handling of a case involving an officer charged with criminal homicide. Funk defended his record.

Defeated incumbents

No Democratic incumbents lost in Tuesday’s primaries.

As with 2022, no incumbent Democratic state legislators in Indiana lost primary bids in 2020 or 2018.

The following shows data from 14 states for which we have post-filing deadline information and from two states—Texas and Indiana—where state legislative elections have taken place.

Media analysis

The Associated Press‘ Nicholas Riccardi said Ohio’s 11th District results are a reminder that the establishment has an advantage in Democratic primaries:

Brown’s easy victory is a reminder that the left has a very uneven track record in Democratic primaries, notching a few high-profile wins like that of U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York City, but mostly a long string of losses. Trump may have changed Republican primaries, but Democratic ones still tilt toward the same establishment that has run the party for decades. 

Vox‘s Christian Paz said that while progressive candidates lost, progressive ideas won on May 3:

Though establishment-aligned candidates won in races around Ohio, they didn’t get there without embracing a slight leftward shift in their priorities.

Ryan and Brown, in their respective races, … pulled together ideas from the center and left in their pitches to voters, specifically on job creation, labor-organizing protections, a $15 minimum wage, and lowering health care costs. Though they beat left-leaning challengers, their wins also show that challenges from the left can push more moderate candidates to consider the substance of progressive demands.

Cisneros’ first TV ad on abortion, candidates respond to leaked SCOTUS opinion draft 

Between Jessica Cisneros’ first runoff TV ad and the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion on Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, abortion has remained in the spotlight in Texas’ 28th Congressional District primary runoff. 

Last week, Cisneros released her first runoff TV ad, which contrasts her position on abortion with that of incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar (D). The ad’s narrator said, “We showed up and spoke out when Texas Republicans passed the most extreme abortion ban in the country. But Henry Cuellar sided with them, the Lone Democrat, against a woman’s right to make her own decisions, even opposing life-saving care.” 

Cuellar was the only House Democrat to vote against the Women’s Health Protection Act, introduced in the U.S. House after Senate Bill 8 became law in Texas. The act would have legalized abortion nationally.

On May 2, Politico published a leaked initial draft opinion from the Supreme Court in which Justice Samuel Alito wrote, “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled.”

Cuellar said, “I do not support abortion, however, we cannot have an outright ban. There must be exceptions in the case of rape, incest, and danger to the life of the mother. … My faith will not allow me to support a ruling that would criminalize teenage victims of rape and incest. That same faith will not allow me to support a ruling that would make a mother choose between her life and her child’s.”

Cisneros said, “As the Supreme Court prepares to overturn Roe v. Wade, I am calling on Democratic Party leadership to withdraw their support of Henry Cuellar who is the last anti-choice Democrat in the House” and that “with the House majority on the line, he could very much be the deciding vote on the future of our reproductive rights and we cannot afford to take that risk.”

House Minority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) campaigned for Cuellar at a get-out-the-vote rally in San Antonio Wednesday night. Cuellar previously received endorsements from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), meaning he has support from all three House Democratic leaders.

The race is a rematch. Cuellar won the 2020 primary 52%-48%. In this year’s primary, Cuellar received 48% to Cisneros’ 47%. Tannya Benavides received 5%. The primary runoff is May 24.

Our Revolution chapter endorses Tom Nelson for Senate in Wisconsin

Our Wisconsin Revolution, a state affiliate of Our Revolution, endorsed Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson in Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate primary. Our Revolution’s website says it is “America’s leading grassroots-funded progressive political organizing group.” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) founded the group.

Nelson said, “I am the proven progressive in this race. I have consistently championed economic, social and racial justice issues, so voters know exactly where I stand, unlike others in the race. … I’m the one who consistently champions these progressive issues like Medicare for All and Green New Deal. I’m the only one who opposes Title 42.” 

The health order invoking Title 42 is a pandemic-related restriction on immigration at U.S. land borders.

Politico‘s Holly Otterbein wrote about the endorsement in connection with Lt. Gov. and Senate candidate Mandela Barnes’ ideological positioning: “[W]hile Barnes backs Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, he has not made them the central focus of his campaign.” Otterbein also noted Barnes’ opposition to Biden’s plan to end the health order invoking Title 42. 

Our Wisconsin Revolution executive director Andre Walton said Barnes didn’t fill out a questionnaire, which meant he couldn’t be considered for the endorsement.

A campaign representative told Politico that Barnes has endorsements from “more than 130 local elected officials in Wisconsin, influential local and national groups, and members of Congress from all corners of the Democratic Party, from Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Cory Booker to [House] Majority Whip Jim Clyburn.”

Nelson’s other endorsers include Sunrise Movement Wisconsin and several local officials.

We’ve tracked 11 candidates running in the Aug. 9 primary so far. Nelson, Alex Lasry, and Kou Lee have filled out Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Click their names to read their responses. 

The four candidates who reported raising more than $1 million as of March 31 were Lasry ($9.1 million), Sarah Godlewski ($5.1 million), Barnes ($4.1 million), and Nelson ($1.2 million). Lasry’s total includes $5.8 million he loaned his campaign, and Godlewski’s includes $2.9 million she loaned her campaign. 

Hoyer endorses Moore in Maryland gubernatorial primary, breaking with Pelosi

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) endorsed Wes Moore in the Maryland Democratic primary for governor. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is from Baltimore, Maryland, previously endorsed former Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez.

Hoyer said, “Wes stands out as a candidate whose experience, vision, and talent can lead Maryland toward a brighter future by inspiring our people — particularly our young people — to work together to face our toughest challenges.”

Pelosi credited Perez’s DNC leadership with giving Democrats control of the House and Senate and getting President Joe Biden elected. Pelosi said Perez has “the best opportunity to flip the state of Maryland.”

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is term-limited. Hogan won the open 2014 race against then-Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D) 51%-47%. Hogan was re-elected in 2018, defeating Ben Jealous (D) 55%-44%.

Ten candidates are running in the Democratic primary, including Prince George’s County Executive and 2018 gubernatorial primary candidate Rushern Baker III, state Comptroller Peter Franchot, former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, and former U.S. Education Secretary John King Jr.

The primary is July 19.

Competitiveness data: South Dakota  

South Dakota’s filing deadline for congressional and state candidates was March 29.

We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive the primaries will be compared to recent election cycles.

South Dakota

Notes on how these figures were calculated:

  • Candidates per district: divides the total number of candidates by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Open districts: divides the number of districts without an incumbent running by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Contested primaries: divides the number of major party primaries by the number of possible primaries.
  • Incumbents in contested primaries: divides the number of incumbents in primaries by the number seeking re-election in the given election cycle.