The day after his home in Mar-a-Lago was raided by FBI agents, former President Donald J. Trump once again illustrated his electoral appeal to the Republican Party.
In a series of primaries in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont and Connecticut on Tuesday – and in a newly conceded race in last week’s election in Washington state – Mr. Trump’s candidates scored victories and his enemies have won defeats, with one notable exception.
Republican voters in Wisconsin and Minnesota have elevated a slate of candidates who peddled baseless allegations of fraud in the 2020 presidential election, staging high-stakes battles in the fall over the future of a fair election in critical battlefield states. And in Connecticut, Trump-backed Senate candidate Leora Levy defeated a moderate Republican, Themis Klarides.
Here are five takeaways.
One of the country’s pivotal races for governor is taking shape.
Tony Evers, the Democratic governor of Wisconsin, was always going to be in trouble.
He faced a potential showdown with either Tim Michels, a millionaire construction mogul endorsed by Mr Trump, or Rebecca Kleefisch, the state’s former lieutenant governor, who had the backing of former Vice President Mike Penny. On Tuesday evening, Mr. Evers learned that his Republican rival would be Mr. Michels, the latest winner in the nationwide power struggle between Trump Republicans and establishment Republicans.
Mr. Michels may not be the best on stage, but he has money to pour into his run. And he could go after not just Mr. Evers, but the Wisconsin Republicans’ other favorite target, President Biden. It was Mr. Biden who canceled the contract to build the Keystone XL pipeline, which Mr. Michels’ firm was supposed to build.
The electoral competition will probably be one of the most important in the country.
Mr. Evers, who has presented himself as an advocate of fair elections, has vetoed more than a dozen state bills that would have restricted voting. Mr. Michels has pushed the false notion that the 2020 election can still be decertified and has pledged to abolish the state election commission.
Mr Michels campaigned to be tough on crime. On Tuesday, that position did not apply to the former president. He called the search of Mr Trump’s Florida home an “overzealous pursuit” and dismissed the possibility that Mr Trump may have committed a crime.
The Trump fever hasn’t quite kicked in.
Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos nearly lost to a little-known candidate on Tuesday, all thanks to Trump’s endorsement. The near miss of Mr. Vos, the most powerful Republican in Wisconsin politics, shows how crucial that endorsement can be in the land of cheese and election rejection.
The race between Mr. Vos and Adam Steen in the Republican primary for a Wisconsin Assembly seat has been tighter than virtually all Wisconsin analysts predicted, despite Mr. Vos being an 18-year-old incumbent who served as president for a decade and grew up in the district. Mr. Steen is an Indiana native who had no paid advertising beyond a tiny bit of mailings, but he had the support of Mr. Trump and a claim that he would work to resume the 10 state Electoral College votes from 2020, a legal impossibility.
Mr. Steen’s far-right views extended well beyond election denial. In an interview, he also said he would seek to make birth control illegal in Wisconsin.
A beacon of hope for Democrats.
In a state where the last two presidential elections have been won by razor-thin margins, Wisconsin Democrats have reason to be optimistic.
Part of that is tied to sweeping legislation, covering climate change and prescription drug prices, which is expected to pass by November. Part of it has to do with the energy that is galvanizing Democratic voters on abortion rights. And part of it in Wisconsin has to do with Mandela Barnes, the state’s lieutenant governor.
Mr Barnes – a former community organizer from Milwaukee – won the Democratic nomination in a Senate race to face Republican incumbent Senator Ron Johnson. Mr Barnes’ victory sets up a heated general election race that could help decide control of the Senate. Mr. Barnes, Wisconsin’s first black lieutenant governor, would be its first black senator if he were to win.
A test for Mr Barnes will be whether he can increase his fundraising levels. He enters the general election with nearly $1 million in cash, according to the latest federal election documents. For Mr. Johnson, that figure was over $2 million.
Another Republican impeacher will not return to Congress.
Of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump, the fate of all but one is now sealed. Four declined to seek another term, two others survived their primaries and three lost.
In Washington state, Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, who strongly criticized Mr. Trump’s actions ahead of the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, became the third House Republican to lose, after conceding her race with a statement on Tuesday. “I’m proud that I always spoke the truth, stood by my principles, and did what I knew was best for our country,” she said.
The 10th House Republican who voted to impeach the former president, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, has her primary next week on August 16. She has long since stopped seeing the election as a test of political survival and instead uses it as a means to plead her case against Mr Trump and restore a party she considers “very sick”.
The “squad” remains intact.
Representative Ilhan Omar, one of Congress’s most prominent lawmakers, survived her Democratic primary in Minnesota as she seeks a third term, making her the latest member of the progressive group known as “the ‘team’ to defend their seat this year.
Don Samuels, former Minneapolis city councilman and school board member, lost two percentage points in a fierce race in Minnesota’s fifth congressional district. Mr. Samuels presented himself as a centrist who challenged her on policing issues. He had the support of part of the Democratic establishment and Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis.
Ms. Omar’s victory over Mr. Samuels makes her the third member of the ‘team’ to fend off the main challengers. The other two were Representatives Cori Bush of Missouri and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
Two other members — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts — haven’t drawn any primary opponents this cycle. A sixth member, Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York, will face three main challengers later this month.