Voters in five states — Arizona, Kansas, Missouri, Michigan and Washington state — went to polls during Tuesday’s primary elections. It was the biggest night of the 2022 midterms so far.
It was also a test of former President Donald Trump’s status as “kingmaker” in the Republican Party — and Trump won handily.
The next biggest test will be the general election, and how Trump’s endorsements impact potential swing voters.
In a race with two Trump endorsements, Missouri voters nixed a U.S. Senate campaign by the nearly-impeached former governor. Arizona’s Republican voters nominated Blake Masters — a Trump-endorsed tech investor — over other Senate candidates like businessman Jim Lamon and Attorney General Mark Brnovich.
And in Arizona, Trump’s pick for governor took the lead late in the night as last minute mail-in votes were counted.
Trump has been making headlines after his dual endorsement in Missouri and his long-running feud with Arizona’s popular Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.
However, the former president won biggest not in Missouri or in Arizona, but in Michigan — a traditionally blue state known for its red turn in 2016.
Michigan’s raucous Republican gubernatorial primary saw conservative media personality Tudor Dixon emerge as the victor, setting up a November general election against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in the battleground state.
Dixon’s past as an actor in a series of low-budget horror movies became a campaign issue. But her career moonlighting in titles such as “Buddy BeBop Vs. the Living Dead” and a vampire TV series called “Transitions” paled in comparison to her rivals’ problems.
One rival, Ryan Kelley, faces federal misdemeanor charges after he was recorded on video in Washington during the Jan. 6 insurrection directing would-be rioters toward a set of stairs leading to the U.S. Capitol. Kelley has pleaded not guilty.
Another, Kevin Rinke, is a former car dealer who settled a series of lawsuits in the 1990s after he was alleged to have made racist and sexist comments, which included calling women “ignorant and stupid” and stating that they “should not be allowed to work in public.”
A third, Garrett Soldano, is a chiropractor and self-help guru who has sold supplements he falsely claimed were a therapeutic treatment for the coronavirus.
Many in the state’s Republican establishment, including former Trump education secretary Betsy DeVos, view Dixon as their best shot at defeating Whitmer. Trump endorsed Dixon in the race Friday, just a few days before the primary.
But her primary victory is an outcome few would have predicted months ago. In addition to the shortcomings of her rivals, her path was cleared when the two best-known candidates in the race were kicked off the ballot in May for submitting false petition signatures.
Trump may have pushed Dixon over the edge.
Meanwhile, in the same state, first-term Republican Rep. Peter Meijer lost his primary election after voting in 2020 to impeach Trump.
Meijer lost Tuesday to a primary challenger backed by former President Donald Trump as he and two other Republican U.S. House members who also voted to impeach Trump fought to hang onto their seats.
“A Constitutional Republic like ours requires leaders who are willing to take on the big challenges, to find common ground when possible, and to put their love of country before partisan advantage,” Meijer said in a statement before The Associated Press called the race for his challenger, John Gibbs. “Though this was not the outcome we hoped for, I will continue to do everything possible to move the Republican Party, West Michigan, and our country in a positive direction.”
Meijer, a Michigan lawmaker who voted for impeachment just days after he was sworn into office for his first term, lost to the Trump-backed Gibbs, a businessman and missionary who served in the Trump administration under Housing Secretary Ben Carson.
Gibbs chastised Meijer for supporting bipartisan gun control legislation that President Joe Biden signed into law in June, and he contended Meijer is not a true Republican because he voted to impeach Trump.
Meijer begged the Democrats to stop funding his primary challenger in a viral op-ed on Monday.
The congressman alleged:
In one of many such naked political gambits aimed at elevating the weaker Republican candidate ahead of the November midterm elections, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) launched a $435,000 ad buy to promote the election-denying Gibbs in the final days leading up to our primary…
You would think that the Democrats would look at John Gibbs and see the embodiment of what they say they most fear. That as patriots they would use every tool at their disposal to defeat him and similar candidates that they’ve said are an existential threat. Instead they are funding Gibbs. Democrats like [New York Rep. Carolyn] Maloney argued that Republicans who looked the other way during the Trump era put party over country. But they know of what they speak.
Meyer’s strategy failed.
Gibbs will face Democrat Hillary Scholten in November in the state’s Democratic-leaning 3rd Congressional District.
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article.