Takeout: Kansas abortion backlash, Greitens meltdown

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WASHINGTON — On one of the biggest days of this year’s primary campaign season, voters rejected a measure it would have made it easier to restrict abortion rights in the red state of Kansas and repudiated a scandal-ridden former governor seeking a US Senate seat in Missouri.

Meanwhile, a Republican congressman who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump after the Jan. 6 uprising lost to a Trump-backed opponent early Wednesday, while two other House Republicans supporting impeachment were awaiting the results of their primaries in Washington State.

In Michigan, a political newcomer has emerged of the state’s messy Republican gubernatorial primary, setting up a rare woman-vs-woman general election showdown between conservative commentator Tudor Dixon and incumbent Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Takeaway from Tuesday night’s election results:

RED-STATE KANSAS REJECTS ANTI-ABORTION AMENDMENT

Kansas may seem like an unlikely place for abortion rights supporters to score a major victory.

But on Tuesday, voters in the conservative state vehemently rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed the Legislature to ban abortion. It was the first major test of voter sentiment since the Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade of 1973 which legalized abortion nationwide.

The amendment would have allowed the legislature to overturn a 2019 state Supreme Court ruling declaring access to abortion a “fundamental” right under the state constitution.

His failure on the ballot in a state that Donald Trump won by nearly 15 points sends a stark warning to Republicans, who have played down the political impact of the High Court ruling. It also offers a sizable victory for Democrats, who feel invigorated as they approach what must have been difficult. midterm election season for them.

Kansas currently allows abortion up to the 22nd week of pregnancy. After that, abortion is only permitted to save a patient’s life or to prevent “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function”.

Governor Laura Kelly, a Democrat who supports abortion rights, has warned that efforts by the Republican-led Legislature to ban abortion will hurt the state. On Tuesday, it became clear that many voters agree with her.

Michigan first-term Rep. Peter Meijer was one of 10 Republicans who joined Democrats in voting to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. On Tuesday, he became the latest victim of the former president’s revenge campaign.

Meijer, heir to a Midwestern grocery store empire and former Army Reserve officer who served in Iraq, lost the GOP contest to former Trump administration official John Gibbs.

“I am proud to have remained true to my principles, even if it came at a significant political cost,” Meijer said in a statement.

Besides having Trump’s endorsement, Gibbs also shared Trump’s penchant for conspiracy theories: He repeated Trump’s lies about a stolen 2020 election and once spread false claims that the President of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign had participated in a satanic ritual involving bodily fluids.

Meijer is the second of 10 impeachment-supporting Republicans to lose his primary, joining South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice, who was defeated by a Trump-backed challenger in June. Four others chose to retire rather than face voter wrath. And so far, only California representative David Valadao has survived – barely.

Also on the ballot Tuesday were Washington State Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse, who both faced Trump-backed challengers in their impeachment votes. But those contests were too early to be called because Washington state holds elections by mail, which delays the reporting of results.

Herrera Beutler’s challengers include Joe Kent, a former Green Beret who cultivated ties with far-right groups and employs a campaign aide who was a member of the Proud Boys. Newhouse’s opponents include Loren Culp, a former GOP gubernatorial candidate who falsely claimed his 13-point loss to Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee in 2020 was the result of voter fraud.

Most of the candidates on Trump’s slate in Arizona had a successful primary night.

Senate candidate Blake Masters, whose campaign was funded by tech investor Peter Thiel, won his Republican primary after echoing Trump’s lies about a stolen election and highlighting cultural grievances driving the right, including critical race theory and allegations of big tech censorship.

In the race for Secretary of State, Mark Finchem, an Arizona state legislator who worked to reverse Trump’s 2020 defeat in the state, won his primary.

In the state Legislature, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who testified at a January 6 hearing about Trump’s push to void the 2020 election, lost his primary Republican for a state Senate seat in favor of former Trump-backed lawmaker David Farnsworth.

The possible exception to Trump’s winning streak was Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake. She was following establishment-backed Karrin Taylor Robson, who was endorsed by Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence. That could still change. Election Day and late mail ballots that would likely favor Lake are still counted.

Arizona has become a key pivot state. But it also has significance for Trump after Joe Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate in decades to carry what was once a reliable Republican state.

GREITENS’ RETURN COLLAPSES

Democratic hopes of landing a U.S. Senate seat in dark red Missouri crumbled on Tuesday after Republican voters chose Attorney General Eric Schmitt as their nominee over former Gov. Eric Greitens, who resigned in disgrace in 2018 .

Greitens, they predicted, would be toxic in a general election. Democrats landed a strong rookie in beer heiress Trudy Busch Valentine, who won her primary on Tuesday. And the state’s Republican establishment has prepared to put millions of dollars behind an independent candidate in the general election, potentially fracturing the GOP vote.

But Greitens fell short on Tuesday, finishing a distant third behind Schmitt and U.S. Representative Vicky Hartzler. His campaign’s downfall likely dates back to March, when his ex-wife filed an explosive legal case in the former couple’s child custody case.

Sheena Greitens said in an affidavit that Eric Greitens abused her and one of their young sons. She also said he displayed such “unstable and coercive behavior” before his 2018 resignation that others took action to limit his access to firearms.

At the time, Greitens was facing potential indictment after her former hairdresser testified that he blindfolded her and held her in his basement, assaulted her and appeared to take a photo compromising to pressure her to shut up about an affair.

He resigned from office – and avoided giving sworn testimony about the case.

He launched his Senate comeback campaign last year, presenting himself as a staunchly pro-Trump conservative. And while many in Missouri have written him off, one prominent political figure has not: Donald Trump, who has publicly reflected on Greitens’ attributes.

But in the end, Trump refrained from issuing an endorsement, instead issuing a vague statement this week throwing his support behind “ERIC.”

And on Tuesday, the other “ERIC” in the race – Schmitt – won.

Essentially, Michigan’s raucous Republican gubernatorial primary was a contest of which the candidate’s personal baggage was the least disqualifying. On Tuesday, conservative media personality Tudor Dixon was the victor, setting up a general election in November against Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer in the battleground state.

Dixon’s past as an actor in a series of vulgar, low-budget horror films has become a campaign issue. But his moonlighting career in titles like “Buddy BeBop Vs. the Living Dead” and a vampire TV series called “Transitions” pale in comparison to his rivals’ issues.

A rival, Ryan Kelley, faces federal misdemeanor charges after he was videotaped in Washington during the Jan. 6 uprising directing a crowd of Trump supporters toward a staircase leading to the U.S. Capitol. Kelley pleaded not guilty.

Another, Kevin Rinke, is a former car dealership who settled a series of lawsuits in the 1990s after he was accused of making racist and sexist comments, including 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 sold supplements he falsely claimed were a therapeutic treatment for the coronavirus.

Many members of the state’s Republican establishment, including Trump’s billionaire former education secretary, Betsy DeVos, see Dixon as their best shot at defeating Whitmer. Trump endorsed Dixon in the race on Friday, just days before the primary.

But his main win is an outcome few would have predicted months ago. Besides the shortcomings of her rivals, her path was cleared when the race’s two best-known candidates were kicked out of the ballot in May for submitting fake petition signatures.

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