Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 28

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Republican Edition

June 23, 2022

In this issue: This week’s marquee primary results and responses to Eric Greitens’ new ad

Primary results roundup

Here are recent results from marquee elections we’ve been following.

Alabama U.S. Senate primary runoff: Katie Britt defeated Mo Brooks 63% to 37% on Tuesday. The pair advanced from a field of six candidates in the May 24 primary. Incumbent Richard Shelby (R), first elected in 1986, did not run for re-election. This is a solidly Republican seat.

Alabama’s 5th District primary runoff: Dale Strong defeated Casey Wardynski 63% to 37% on Tuesday. Mo Brooks has represented this district for more than a decade. Strong has served on the Madison County Commission since 2012.

Alaska’s special U.S. House primary: Sarah Palin (R), Nick Begich III (R), Al Gross (I), and Mary Peltola (D) were the top four finishers in Alaska’s special U.S. House primary—the first top-four congressional primary in U.S. history. 

Gross withdrew on Monday. The Division of Elections said Tuesday that fifth-place finisher Tara Sweeney (R) would not advance to the Aug. 16 special general election because Gross withdrew fewer than 64 days before the general. Lawsuits are possible. The final ballot count was Tuesday, and the Division plans to certify results Saturday. 

Forty-eight candidates ran in the special primary. Unofficial results from the final ballot count for the top five candidates are below.

  • Palin (R): 27%
  • Begich (R): 19%
  • Gross (I): 13%
  • Peltola (D): 10%
  • Sweeney (R): 6%

Virginia’s 7th District: Yesli Vega defeated five other candidates, receiving 29% of the vote on Tuesday. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) is running in the redrawn 7th District. Vega serves on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors and had endorsements from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and former Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), whom Spanberger defeated in the old 7th District in 2018. Three independent forecasters rate the general election as Toss-up, Lean Democratic, or Tilt Democratic

We’ve been tracking former President Donald Trump’s endorsements in primaries. After Tuesday’s elections, Trump’s endorsement record is 123-10 (92%). Two endorsees—Vernon Jones and Jake Evans—lost U.S. House primary runoffs in Georgia on Tuesday. 

State legislative incumbents defeated

The figures below were current as of Wednesday morning. Click here for more information on defeated incumbents.

At least four state legislators—all Republicans—lost in primary runoffs on June 21. Including those results, 111 state legislative incumbents have lost in primaries this year. This number will likely increase: 37 primaries featuring incumbents remain uncalled.

Across the 21 states that have held state legislative primaries so far this year, 5.4% of incumbents running for re-election have lost, continuing an elevated rate of incumbent primary defeats compared to recent election cycles.

Of the 21 states that have held primaries so far, five had Democratic trifectas, 13 had Republican trifectas, and three had divided governments, with Democrats controlling the governorship and Republicans controlling both legislative chambers. Across these 21 states, there are 2,650 seats up for election, 43% of the nationwide total.

Primary opponents criticize Greitens’ new campaign ad

Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Eric Greitens released a campaign ad Monday in which he carries a gun and tells viewers to get a “RINO hunting permit.” Greitens’ primary opponents and the state Fraternal Order of Police criticized the ad.

Greitens identifies himself in the ad as a Navy SEAL and says, “Today, we’re going RINO hunting.” Greitens and a group of armed men in military gear then break into a house and throw a flash grenade inside. Greitens says, “Join the MAGA crew, get a RINO hunting permit. There’s no bagging limit, no tagging limit, and it doesn’t expire until we save our country.”

Facebook removed the video from its platform for violating its policies “prohibiting violence and incitement.” Twitter added a warning to the video, saying, “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about abusive behavior. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”

Other Senate GOP primary candidates in Missouri criticized the video.

U.S. Rep. Billy Long said the video was distasteful, adding, “[Missouri Attorney General Eric] Schmitt nor [U.S. Rep Vicky] Hartzler can beat him, but he may be able to beat himself. … The way to beat RINOs like Schmitt and Hartzler is at the ballot box.”

State Sen. Dave Schatz tweeted, “Completely irresponsible. That’s why I’m running. It’s time to restore sanity and reject this nonsense. Missouri deserves better.”

Hartzler said, “Eric Greitens is an abuser, a blackmailer, and less than ten years ago — a Democrat. … To be clear: The only RINO featured in Eric Greitens’ web video is himself.”

Greitens was governor of Missouri from 2017 to 2018, when he resigned following allegations of sexual misconduct and misuse of campaign information. This year, Greitens’ ex-wife alleged that he abused her and one of their children. Greitens denied the allegations.

The Missouri Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) said, “The creation and release of this video again demonstrates that Mr. Greitens does not possess the sound judgement necessary to represent the people of Missouri in the United States Senate.” The Missouri FOP has endorsed Schmitt in the primary.

Greitens said, “We just wanted to demonstrate with a sense of humor and with a sense of fun that we are going to take on RINOS.” Greitens said it was “entertaining to watch the faux outrage of all of the liberals and RINO snowflakes around the country and around the state.”

Twenty-one candidates are running in the Senate GOP primary on Aug. 2. In an Emerson College poll from early June, Greitens received 26% support, followed by Schmitt with 20%, Hartzler with 16%, and Long with 8%. Twenty-seven percent were undecided. The margin of error was +/- 3 percentage points.

Incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) is not running for re-election. 

First Michigan gubernatorial poll post-Kelley arrest shows plurality undecided, Kelley among leading candidates

As we wrote last week, Michigan gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley was arrested on June 9 on misdemeanor charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach. A poll the Detroit Free Press commissioned from June 10-13 showed 45% undecided, Kelley with 17%, Garrett Soldano with 13%, Kevin Rinke with 12%, and two others with 5% or less. The margin of error was +/- 4.9 percentage points.

A Target Insyght and Michigan Information and Research Service poll from late May showed 49% undecided. Kelley had 19%, Rinke 15%, Tudor Dixon 9%, and Soldano 6%. The margin of error was +/- 5 percentage points.

The primary is on Aug. 2.

Indiana Republicans nominate Diego Morales for secretary of state

Indiana Republican Party delegates nominated Diego Morales for secretary of state during the party’s state convention on June 18. Morales will run against Destiny Wells (D) and Jeff Maurer (L) in the general election. Four candidates competed for the nomination: Morales, incumbent Holli Sullivan, Paul Hager, and David Shelton.  

In Indiana, political parties nominate candidates for lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer, and attorney general at state party conventions.  

Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) appointed Sullivan in 2021. The Indianapolis Star’s Kaitlin Lange wrote that “with some frustration within the Republican party over Holcomb’s handling of the pandemic and other policy choices, [Sullivan’s] ties to the establishment hurt her campaign more than they helped as she faced three other candidates. … [Morales] primarily garnered the support of the more conservative faction of the party, capitalizing on discontent with Holcomb and those associated with him.” 

According to the Associated Press’ Tom Davies, Morales said the 2020 presidential election was a scam. Brian Howey of Howey Politics Indiana wrote, “[Morales’] campaign says that he was misquoted … His campaign texted this statement from Morales: ‘I proudly voted for Trump twice, but Joe Biden was elected president in 2020 and legitimately occupies that office today. … There were a number of irregularities in that election, including the secretary of state in Pennsylvania changing election rules only 30 days before election day. Those kinds of actions are unacceptable.’”

According to Davies, Morales wants to shorten the early voting period, require proof of U.S. citizenship from newly registering voters, and create an election task force.

Competitiveness data: Colorado and Oklahoma

Colorado and Oklahoma hold primaries on June 28. We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive the primaries will be compared to recent election cycles.



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.