Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 34

August 11, 2022

In this issue: Highlights from this week’s primaries and a look at the Republican Main Street Partnership’s agenda 

Primary results roundup

Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin held primaries on Tuesday. Here are some highlights.

Wisconsin Governor: Tim Michels won with 47% of the vote to Rebecca Kleefisch’s 42% as of Wednesday morning. Former President Donald Trump endorsed Michels. Former Gov. Scott Walker and former Vice President Mike Pence endorsed Kleefisch. Michels faces Gov. Tony Evers (D) in the Toss-up general election.

Wisconsin State Assembly District 63: Assembly Speaker Robin Vos defeated Adam Steen 51% to 49%. Vos has been in office since 2005, and his peers chose him as speaker in 2013. Trump endorsed Steen the week before the primary.

Vermont U.S. House: Liam Madden won the primary with 41% of the vote as of Wednesday afternoon. Ericka Redic had 32% and Anya Tynio, 27%. Madden describes himself as an independent and said as of Wednesday he was deciding whether to accept the GOP nomination or run as an independent. In his Ballotpedia Candidate Connection survey, Madden said, “The two party system prevents us from solving our problems. It doesn’t represent us, doesn’t work, drives us apart, and is controlled by elites.”

Also, some updates from Aug. 2 primaries:

Washington’s 3rd District and Washington’s 4th District: Each of these top-two primaries featured a Republican incumbent who voted to impeach Trump in 2021. In the 4th District, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R) and Doug White (D) advanced. The 3rd District race isn’t called yet. As of Wednesday, Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D) had 31%, Trump-backed Joe Kent (R) had 23%, and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R) was third with 22%. Herrera Beutler conceded on Tuesday. If Herrera Beutler loses, she’ll be the 11th U.S. representative who ran for re-election and lost in a primary this year.

Arizona Governor: Kari Lake won with 48% to Karrin Taylor Robson’s 43%. This was another race where Trump and Pence backed different candidates, with Trump endorsing Lake and Pence endorsing Taylor Robson.

Media analysis

Courthouse News Service wrote about Michels’ and Kleefisch’s campaign messages and the possible effects a Republican governor would have on Wisconsin law:

Kleefisch’s campaign connected her to the Walker administration’s highest profile moves, including most prominently the passage of Act 10, a 2011 law that gutted the collective bargaining power of most public sector unions and sparked massive protests from what Kleefisch has called “the liberal mob.”

Michels, who unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate in 2004, ran a campaign based on his business acumen and disregard for the political culture in the state Capitol in Madison. The 60-year-old spent nearly $12 million of his own money on his campaign and cast himself as a disruptive candidate similar to Donald Trump, who endorsed Michels and stumped for him in Waukesha on Aug. 5.

Kleefisch, 47, was backed by Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence, Wisconsin’s most influential business and commerce lobbies, and important figures in the state Republican Party like Vos.

With the Wisconsin Legislature firmly in the control of Republicans for now — and very likely for the near future — either candidate as governor would have been likely to sign into law sweeping changes or maintain current conservative legislation on abortion, education and, maybe most importantly, elections.

Fox6 wrote about the conflict over the 2020 presidential election between Vos and Steen: 

Vos has had a hand in every major Republican initiative over the last decade.

Vos, and the Republican agenda, has been largely blocked by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers the past two years. Vos fell out of favor with Trump after he refused to push to decertify Biden’s win in Wisconsin. Vos, citing legal experts, said decertification was unconstitutional.

Steen, a landlord who has never served in public office, ran on the platform of decertifying the election. Days before the primary, he touted his support for banning all birth control.

The Cook Political Report said of Republican representatives who voted for impeachment:

Herrera Beutler’s loss, combined with Rep. Liz Cheney’s likely defeat in Wyoming next week and California Rep. David Valadao’s vulnerability in November, means it’s possible only one of ten pro-impeachment Republicans — Rep. Dan Newhouse (WA-04) will remain in Congress come January 2023. In the 4th CD, Newhouse only squeaked past extremely weak, Trump-endorsed small town sheriff Loren Culp 25%-21% to advance to the fall. 

State legislative incumbents defeated

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

Six state legislative incumbents—four Democrats and two Republicans—lost in primaries over the past week in Connecticut, Minnesota, and Tennessee. No incumbents have lost in Vermont or Wisconsin, though races remain uncalled. Overall, there are 23 uncalled state legislative primaries featuring incumbents: nine Democratic, nine Republican, and five top-two.

Across the 38 states that have held state legislative primaries this year, 182 incumbents, 4.6% of those running for re-election, have lost, continuing an elevated rate of incumbent primary defeats compared to recent election cycles.

Of the 38 states that have held primaries, 10 have Democratic trifectas, 19 have Republican trifectas, and nine have divided governments. Across these states, there are 5,106 seats up for election, 81% of the nationwide total.

Republican Main Street Partnership releases policy agenda

The Republican Main Street Partnership (RMSP) released its agenda on energy, jobs, the supply chain, public safety and policing, and “standing for freedom.” Proposals include resuming Keystone Pipeline construction, decreasing the reduction of Social Security benefits for retirees who return to work, and instituting “strict guidelines to hold district attorneys and prosecutors accountable for the safety of their communities.”

Five U.S. senators and 62 U.S. representatives are members of RMSP. Roll Call‘s Kate Ackley wrote:

The effort is designed to give candidates a message to sell on the campaign trail. It also aims to build public support for what to expect and to avoid what [RMSP member] Rep. Mike Bost , R-Ill., said were problems that developed after Republicans took the House majority during Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration.

“I’m a conservative, but I watched, I watched last time people pursuing ‘No,’” Bost said, referring to colleagues whose goal was to block Obama’s agenda and even to thwart their own House speaker, such as John A. Boehner of Ohio. “We can’t pursue ‘No.’ We’ve got to govern.”

RMSP’s website says it is “dedicated to working across the aisle to enact common-sense legislation on issues such as healthcare, family issues, workforce development, the environment (including clean water), and transportation/infrastructure.”

The group’s PAC endorsed 17 U.S. House candidates this year, 14 of whom won contested primaries. One endorsee lost, and two have outstanding primaries. Allan Fung is running unopposed in Rhode Island’s 2nd District and Amanda Makki is running in Florida’s Aug. 23 13th District primary.

Makki is in a rematch with Anna Paulina Luna, who has Trump’s endorsement. Luna defeated Makki and three others in 2020 with 36% of the vote to Makki’s 28%. Rep. Charlie Crist (D), who is running for governor this year, defeated Luna in the general election 53-47%. Five candidates are running in this year’s GOP primary.

After redistricting, the 13th District went from Even to R+6 in Cook’s Partisan Voting Index (PVI), indicating a shift in favor of Republicans. The PVI compares each congressional district’s results from the last two presidential elections to the country’s results as a whole.  

Rep. Jackie Walorski dies, special election will be called for IN-02

U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) died in a car accident on Aug. 3. Walorski had represented Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District since 2013. Before that, Walorski served in the state House of Representatives and worked as a television reporter and nonprofit director. Walorski’s funeral will be held on Aug. 11 in Granger. 

According to state law, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) must call a special election to fill the remainder of Walorski’s term ending Jan. 3, 2023, because the seat became vacant more than 74 days before the general election. Holcomb had not announced a date for the election as of Wednesday.

Democratic and Republican party officials will choose candidates for the special election. Since Walorski was running for re-election, Republicans will also select a candidate for the regular election ballot. 

The special election will use the current district lines, while the regular election will use lines drawn after redistricting. Cook‘s PVI for the district changed little after redistricting—from R+13 to R+14. 

Seventeen special elections have been or will be called during the 117th Congress. That’s tied with the 115th Congress for the most special elections over the past three decades.

Competitiveness data: Delaware and Hawaii

Hawaii’s primaries are on Aug. 13. Delaware holds primaries on Sept. 13. 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.