Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 30

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Republican Edition

July 7, 2022

In this issue: Trump to rally for Dunleavy, Palin, Tshibaka in Alaska; Schulz, Cox respond to Democratic Governors Association ad in Maryland

Trump to rally for Dunleavy, Palin, Tshibaka in Alaska

Former President Donald Trump will hold a rally in Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday for GOP candidates in three battleground elections: Gov. Mike Dunleavy, At-Large House candidate Sarah Palin, and U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka. 

Top-four primaries will be held Aug. 16, the same day as a ranked-choice voting special general election for U.S. House. Candidates of all affiliations will appear on the same ballot in each race.

Dunleavy faces four Republicans, one Democrat, two independents, and two third-party candidates. That includes former Gov. Bill Walker (I), who withdrew from the 2018 gubernatorial race that Dunleavy ultimately won; former state Rep. Les Gara (D); Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce (R); and state Rep. Christopher Kurka (R).

Nineteen candidates are running for U.S. Senate, including incumbent Lisa Murkowski (R). Tshibaka, a former commissioner of the state Department of Administration, is one of seven Republicans challenging Murkowski. Three Democrats, three third-party candidates, and five independent or nonpartisan candidates are also running. Murkowski is the only GOP senator running for re-election this year who voted guilty during Trump’s 2021 impeachment trial. Of the seven Republican senators who voted guilty, three have seats up for election this year. North Carolina’s Richard Burr and Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey aren’t seeking re-election. 

Palin, a former governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate, is running in both the special general election and the regular top-four primary for U.S. House on Aug. 16. Palin advanced from the 48-candidate special primary field with 27% of the vote. She joins investor Nick Begich III (R) and former state Rep. Mary Peltola (D) in the special general election. Al Gross (I) also advanced from the June 11 primary but withdrew from the race on June 20. Former incumbent Don Young (R) died in March. Twenty-two candidates are running in the top-four regular primary, including Begich, Palin, and Peltola.

The Alaska Republican Party has endorsed both Dunleavy and Pierce in the gubernatorial election, Tshibaka in the Senate election, and Begich in the House election.

Alaska voters approved the new top-four primary/ranked-choice voting general election system in 2020. Click here for more information.

Cheney, Hageman diverge on 2020 election, Jan. 6 committee at first U.S. House debate

The first debate of Wyoming’s GOP congressional primary featured division over the 2020 presidential election results and the January 6 investigative committee. Incumbent Rep. Liz Cheney is vice chair of the committee.

Cheney said the Republican Party is “embracing a cult of personality and I won’t be part of that.” Cheney said Trump lied about the 2020 election results and that candidate Harriet Hageman, whom Trump endorsed, is also lying about the election because she is beholden to Trump.

Hageman criticized Cheney’s role on the House investigative committee and said, “We have serious questions about the 2020 election.” Hageman said there are “two different systems of justice in this country,” saying people like Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and rioters in Portland, Oregon, aren’t held accountable but that conservatives are punished for exercising free speech. During the debate, Hageman also referenced money Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg donated to nonprofits that provided funding to election offices in 2020.

The January 6 committee held six hearings last month. Cheney is one of two Republicans on the nine-member committee, along with Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who is not seeking re-election. Cheney and Kinzinger were among the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for incitement of insurrection in 2021.

Wyoming’s primary is on Aug. 16.

Schulz criticizes Democratic Governors Association ad in Maryland

Maryland gubernatorial candidate Kelly Schulz criticized a Democratic Governors Association (DGA) ad, saying the group intended it to help Dan Cox, her Republican primary opponent.

The DGA ad said, “Cox worked with Trump trying to prove the last election was a fraud. 100% pro life. He’s fighting to end abortion in Maryland, and Cox will protect the Second Amendment at all costs, refusing to support any federal restrictions on guns. Even pushing to put armed guards in every school.”

Schulz said, “Two weeks ago, our campaign predicted that national Democrats would spend millions of dollars to prop up fringe candidate Dan Cox so they would not … have to face me in the general election. … They’re afraid of losing four out of the last six governor’s races here in Maryland. And because of this, they’re willing to support a lying conspiracy theorist like Dan Cox[.]”

Cox said, “I am being attacked now by both moderate ‘do-nothing’ Kelly Shulz’s failing campaign and by the Democratic Governors Association who views me as the frontrunner they intend to tear down in the eyes of Maryland’s voters.”

DGA spokesman Sam Newton said, “As Maryland’s MAGA primary for governor is heating up and recent polls show Kelly Schulz is failing to gain any momentum against Trump-endorsed Dan Cox, it’s telling that her campaign is already looking for excuses.” 

Politico wrote, “The committee reserved at least $1.2 million worth of airtime, according to data from the ad tracking firm AdImpact — more than what Cox and Schulz have spent on advertising combined.”

Cox was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 2018. Former President Trump endorsed him. Schulz was Maryland’s secretary of commerce from 2019 to January 2022. Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who is term-limited, endorsed her.

The primary is July 19. Race forecasters view the general election as Lean or Likely Democratic. This is one of six governorships Republicans are defending in states President Biden won in 2020. Biden defeated Trump by a margin of 33 percentage points in the state.

Salmon exits Arizona governor’s race, candidates participate in debate

Former U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon withdrew from the gubernatorial primary in Arizona. Salmon said that “the path to a first-place victory is no longer a realistic possibility. Republican primary voters deserve more than having their votes split[.]” 

Salmon endorsed Karrin Taylor Robson the next day. Salmon’s name will still appear on the ballot due to the timing of his withdrawal.

Salmon was trailing Kari Lake, a former news anchor for Fox 10 News in Phoenix, and Taylor Robson, a former member of the Arizona Board of Regents and founder of a land-use strategy firm, in recent polls.

Club for Growth and FreedomWorks had endorsed Salmon, along with U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.). As of July 5, none of those organizations or individuals had endorsed another candidate in the race.  

On June 29, Lake, Taylor Robson, Scott Neely, and Paola Tulliani Zen participated in a televised debate hosted by the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission.  

Arizona Republic’s Stacey Barchenger said the debate was an “hourlong throw down between the contenders.” 

Lake said she would not have certified the 2020 presidential election results: “We had a corrupt election. I’d actually like to ask everybody on this stage if they would agree we had a corrupt stolen election? Raise your hand.” 

Neely and Tulliani Zen raised their hands, while Taylor Robson didn’t. Taylor Robson said the election wasn’t fair because new policies were implemented shortly before the election and tech companies suppressed conservative voices. Robson also referenced donations from Zuckerberg to nonprofits that provided funding to election offices in 2020. Taylor Robson said, “But I am focused on 2022 because the left is 10 steps ahead of us.”

Gov. Doug Ducey (R) is term-limited. Three race forecasters view the general election as a Toss-up. This is another one of the six governorships Republicans are defending in states Biden won in 2020. Biden defeated Trump by a margin of 0.3 percentage points.

The primary is Aug. 2. 

Colorado Sun analysis shows most unaffiliated voters participated in GOP primaries while fewest voted in Democratic primaries since 2018

According to The Colorado Sun‘s analysis of preliminary data from the June 28 primaries, 231,000 unaffiliated voters cast ballots in the Republican Party primary, up from 138,000 in 2020 and 105,000 in 2018. The 162,000 unaffiliated voters in the Democratic primaries were the fewest in the past two cycles—there were 383,000 in 2020 and 177,000 in 2018.

Colorado voters approved an initiated state statute in 2016 allowing unaffiliated voters to participate in major party primaries. The law first applied to the 2018 primaries.

As of the morning of July 1, 35% of GOP ballots and 30% of Democratic ballots came from unaffiliated voters. The Colorado Sun provides a table comparing the raw number of primary votes by affiliation since 2018. Here’s a look at what percentage of the total primary vote unaffiliated voters cast in each major party’s primary based on that data:

Republican primary votes

  • 2022: 35% by unaffiliated
  • 2020: 24% by unaffiliated
  • 2018: 20% by unaffiliated

Democratic primary votes

  • 2022: 30% by unaffiliated
  • 2020: 38% by unaffiliated
  • 2018: 27% by unaffiliated

The Sun noted that the four counties with the highest percentage of GOP primary votes from unaffiliated voters, ranging from 59% to 70%, are all in the 3rd Congressional District: San Miguel, Ouray, Pitkin, and Gunnison counties. Incumbent Rep. Lauren Boebert defeated Don Coram in the 3rd District primary 66% to 34%. 

None of the Democratic statewide primaries (for U.S. Senate and state executive offices) had more than one candidate this year. The Republican side had several battleground contests, including for governor and Senate.

Percentage of each congressional caucus not seeking re-election

Fifty-five members of Congress are not running for re-election in 2022, including 32 Democrats and 23 Republicans. For Democrats, this is 11.9% of the party’s House and Senate caucus, up from 3.6% in 2020. For Republicans, this is 8.8% of their caucus, down from 11.5% in 2020.

Competitiveness data: Maryland

Maryland holds primaries on July 19. 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.