Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 31

July 14, 2022

In this issue: Ducey’s Arizona gubernatorial endorsement and the Nebraska GOP’s leadership upheaval

Ducey backs Taylor Robson for Arizona governor, countering Trump

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) endorsed Karrin Taylor Robson in the gubernatorial primary. In his endorsement video, Ducey said, “Karrin is the real deal: pro-life, pro-gun, and pro-wall – and she’ll stand up to Joe Biden and the radical left.” Ducey is term-limited.

A recent OH Predictive Insights poll of likely voters shows Taylor Robson with 35% to Kari Lake’s 40%. Twenty-one percent of respondents were undecided. The margin of error was +/- 4.3 percentage points. 

Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed Lake. We wrote last week about the candidates’ differing views on the 2020 presidential election.

12 News wrote, “Ducey has more at stake in the governor’s race than simply clearing the way for a preferred successor. As chair of the Republican Governors’ Association, Ducey has worked across the country to elect governors who aren’t cut from the Trump mold.”  

The primary is Aug. 2.

Nebraska GOP removes chairman, elects new leadership

The Nebraska Republican Party voted to remove Dan Welch as chairman on July 9 after delegates passed an amendment to the state party constitution allowing delegates to remove leadership. Delegates elected Eric Underwood, who chaired the Lancaster County GOP, as the new state party chair. The Nebraska Examiner described the moves as “old-guard conservatives and Trump-era populists t[aking] over” the state party from term-limited Gov. Pete Ricketts (R). 

Several state party officials resigned, including the executive director, national committeewoman, secretary, and treasurer.

Welch attributed the vote to the perception that the state party supported Jim Pillen in this year’s Republican gubernatorial primary. Welch said the party stayed neutral. Pillen defeated eight candidates for the Republican nomination. Ricketts endorsed Pillen, while Trump backed Charles Herbster.

The Nebraska Examiner reported that some delegates also said they “wanted state party leaders to pay more attention to county parties in rural parts of the state” and “wanted the GOP to fully embrace former President Donald Trump’s unproven allegations about the 2020 presidential election.” Some delegates also alleged the party interfered in a 2020 state legislative primary.

Trump rules out endorsement for Hartzler in Missouri, but picks Mullin in special Oklahoma Senate primary

On July 8, Trump said he would not endorse U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler in her bid for the U.S. Senate GOP nomination in Missouri: 

She [Hartzler] called me this morning asking for my Endorsement, much as she has on many other occasions. I was anything but positive in that I don’t think she has what it takes to take on the Radical Left Democrats, together with their partner in the destruction of our Country, the Fake News Media and, of course, the deceptive & foolish RINOs.

Hartzler said, “The endorsement that counts is the endorsement of the Missouri people who know I am one of them and have been fighting for them.”

Twenty-one candidates are running in the Aug. 2 primary. The Missouri Independent said, “Polls throughout the campaign have shown [former Gov. Eric] Greitens, Hartzler and Attorney General Eric Schmitt tightly grouped at the top of the crowded Republican field” and that a Trump endorsement “is widely considered a potential silver bullet in the race that would automatically launch whoever received it to frontrunner status.”

The Kansas City Star wrote that “Trump has previously issued a statement of support — which he specified was not an endorsement — for U.S. Rep. Billy Long, but Long has … been running in fourth place in polling of the race.”

Incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt (R) is retiring.

Trump did endorse in Oklahoma’s special U.S. Senate election this past week, backing U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin over T.W. Shannon in the Aug. 23 primary runoff. Mullin received 44% to Shannon’s 18% in the primary. 

Incumbent Sen. Jim Inhofe (R) is resigning.

Nicholson exits Wisconsin gubernatorial primary

The Republican primary for Wisconsin governor is now a four-person contest. 

On July 5, Kevin Nicholson suspended his campaign. Nicholson’s name will still appear on the primary ballot. 

Nicholson, a Marine Corps veteran, had positioned himself as the political outsider in the race. Nicholson said, “It has become clear to me and my team the only path forward for our campaign is attacking the other candidates in the race on the airwaves and running a very negative campaign … [T]hat is not something I want to do.” Nicholson said he would not make an endorsement. 

On July 8, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) endorsed Tim Michels, an army veteran and construction company owner. Thompson served as governor from 1987 to 2001.  Trump endorsed Michels in June.

Also on July 8, former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch announced that 58 Republican state legislators endorsed her. On July 11, Kleefisch released a new ad featuring former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who endorsed Kleefisch in February.

The primary is on Aug. 9. 

Competitiveness data: Kansas and Missouri

Kansas and Missouri hold primaries on Aug. 2. 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.