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2022 midterm primaries: What races to watch on August 2

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Tuesday's primaries are among the busiest in the 2022 midterm primaries. Five states in total are holding primaries (Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, Kansas and Washington). 

From more ways to gauge how much sway an endorsement from former President Donald Trump has, to direct ballot measures about abortion access, to the last remaining House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump.

Here are some of the races to watch:

Arizona Senate & Governor

The Arizona GOP primary for senate, governor, and secretary of state on Tuesday are a major test of Trump's influence over the Republican Party. Republican Voters will be picking their nominees but the future direction of the GOP is also at stake. And Tuesday's results from Arizona could be a preview of the conservative brand that may take center stage in the 2024 presidential election. 

In the Senate, Trump has backed 35-year-old Blake Masters, a venture capitalist who was  the chief operating officer of Thiel's investment firm, Thiel Capital, and the president of Thiel's foundation. Thiel has spent at least $15 million to support Masters, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.  

Election 2022 Arizona Senate Republicans
Arizona Republican U.S. Senate candidates Jim Lamon, left, Mick McGuire, second from right, and Blake Masters, right, pose for a photograph with moderator John Bachman, second from left, prior to the Arizona Republican Senate primary debate hosted by Newsmax at the Madison Center for The Arts Wednesday, July 13, 2022, in Phoenix. Ross D. Franklin / AP

Masters' primary opponents include businessman Jim Lamon, retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. 

Two polls this week indicate Masters has a comfortable lead going into Tuesday's primary. That lead has continued to grow since Trump endorsed Masters in late June. A poll of likely Republican voters from OH Predictive on Sunday morning showed Masters at 36% with businessman Jim Lamon at 21% and Brnovich at 12%.

That mirrors Sunday's Emerson poll, which also had Masters leading the pack with 40% of the support followed by 22% for Lamon and 14% for Brnovich.   

Lamon told CBS News on Monday that "Democrats are paying" for Masters to win the primary. "Democrats would love to run against Masters, they'll beat him like a drum," Lamon said. The businessman aligns with Trump on conservative issues but said the former president "absolutely" made a mistake endorsing Masters over him. 

The winner of Tuesday's Senate primary will take on incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, a former astronaut whose seat is a top target for Republicans. Kelly has raised over $55.8 million this cycle and has about $25 million cash on hand. 

In the GOP race for governor, former TV news anchor Kari Lake and lawyer Karrin Taylor Robson are in a tight contest that repeats a dynamic between Trump and former Vice President MIke Pence. 

Trump has backed Lake, while Pence, along with term-limited sitting Governor Doug Ducey, have backed Taylor Robson. Last month, Trump and Pence held dueling rallies for Lake and Robson on the same day. 

Election 2022 Governor Arizona
This combination of photos shows from left, Republican candidates for Arizona governor Karrin Taylor Robson and Kari Lake prior to an Arizona PBS televised Republican debate June 29, 2022, in Phoenix. Arizona  Ross D. Franklin / AP

While Lake has led in a majority of the polls, an Emerson College poll on Sunday showed a "dead heat" between the two, with Lake just up by one percentage point. 

Trump backed Lake early and visited the state twice to support her. Some Republican voters in Arizona say they are only backing Trump-endorsed candidates this cycle.

Fred Warden, a fire pilot from Tucson, told CBS News that Trump's endorsement of statewide candidates is a "big factor" for him. "I wouldn't vote for anybody that he hasn't endorsed," Warden said before a joint Lake and Masters rally on Sunday.

Donna Hale, a dietician from southern Arizona, said the former president "started a populist movement that helped to wake up the average American," and she added that she hopes Trump runs again in 2024.

Democrats will choose between Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Marco Lopez, a businessman and former chief of staff at Customs and Border Protection.

Missouri Senate: Trump sort of endorses

Whether Missouri Republicans elect former Gov. Eric Greitens, who resigned after a sex scandal in 2018 and has faced claims of domestic abuse by his ex-wife, in Tuesday's primary or another GOP candidate could determine how competitive this reliably Republican state is in November.

Greitens is part of a crowded field of 21 GOP nominees looking to replace retiring Republican Sen. Roy Blunt. Attorney General Eric Schmitt has recently been leading in polls, with Rep. Vicky Hartzler at second, Greitens behind her and Rep. Billy Long at fourth. Schmitt and Hartzler have highlighted the domestic abuse allegations against Greitens, and called on him to drop out of the race. Greitens has denied the allegations. 

The former governor led in polls as recent as June. But over $11 million on advertisements has been spent by anti-Greitens groups, such as the "Show Me Values PAC" or the "Save Missouri Values PAC," whose donors include Theil. 

From top left: Eric Schmitt, Vicky Hartzler, Billy Long, Eric Greitens. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, Greg Nash/Pool via AP Filek, AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

"I wanted to protect our children because I was afraid of what Eric [Greitens] would do," one ad, which uses a vocal reenactment of the affidavit by Greiten's ex-wife. 

Greitens' campaign has called the ad blitz a "smear" campaign and characterized it as a battle between "MAGA" and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in a post last week. His campaign has also referred to his wife as a "deranged individual."

"Anti-Trump establishment insiders are spending to the tune of $11 million to smear the undoubted MAGA champion in the Missouri Senate race: Navy SEAL Eric Greitens," the post reads.

On Monday, the eve of the primary, Trump finally weighed in on the race, tipping the scale for "ERIC." 

"I trust the Great People of Missouri, on this one, to make up their own minds, much as they did when they gave me landslide victories in the 2016 and 2020 Elections, and I am therefore proud to announce that ERIC has my Complete and Total Endorsement," Trump wrote in a statement Monday night, apparently rejecting anyone not named Eric. Two of the three Erics seized on the tweet to claim the Trump endorsement: Eric Schmitt and Eric Greitens.

On the Democratic side, former Marine Lucas Kunce and Trudy Busch Valentine, a philanthropist with ties to the Anheuser-Busch brewery, are in a tighter-than-expected primary. A late July poll by Emerson College and The Hill has Busch Valentine ahead of Kunce by four points.

One other candidate to watch in November is John Wood, who was the senior investigative counsel for the Jan. 6 committee. He submitted over 22,000 signatures on Monday to get his name on the ballot as an independent candidate, according to the Kansas City Star.

Michigan Governor: The primary to take on Whitmer

A dysfunctional Republican primary to take on Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has been seen as vulnerable in November, will come to an end on Tuesday. In May, a court threw out multiple leading candidates due to petition signature fraud, including former Detroit Police Chief James Craig. Five Republicans made it to the final ballot. 

Trump made a splash last Friday when he backed former actress and conservative activist/anchor Tudor Dixon, who had been holding a lead in recent polls and has been seen by Republican strategists as a strong candidate to take on Whitmer in November. 

But Kevin Rinke, whose fortune from his family's automotive group has allowed him to spend $6.5 million on ads, has hammered Dixon for not being Trumpy enough and for having the support of former Trump-era Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. On Sunday, his campaign hit Dixon for being noncommittal on a question about whether she believes the 2020 election was stolen. 

Ryan Kelley, a Jan. 6 attendee who was arrested by the FBI in June, has often placed third or fourth in the polls behind Dixon and Rinke. He and Garrett Soldano, a chiropractor who started an anti-Whitmer Facebook group during the pandemic, are seen as the "grassroots" candidates by local Republicans. 

Facebook shut the group down after repeated violent threats to Whitmer. But all the candidates oppose Whitmer's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, often bringing it up during debates and in advertisements. 

The Supreme Court's Dobbs decision on abortion access could also play a huge role in this race in November. Whitmer is currently engulfed in court battles to prevent a 1930-era abortion ban from taking effct. It allows no exceptions except to save the life of the child bearer. 

Planned Parenthood's Michigan chapter lost a case in the state's Court of Appeals on Monday morning over the ban. The court's ruling allows county prosecutors to begin enforcing the 1931 ban.

All of the GOP candidates support the ban.

Whitmer, a prolific fundraiser in her first term, has already spent $9.7 million on ads attacking Republicans in the primary. "Put Michigan First," an organization propped up by the Democratic Governors Association, has been the top spender with $23.3 million spent on ads supporting Whitmer, or in a continuation of their strategy in other hostile GOP primaries, hitting a specific GOP candidate (Dixon) to create more space for their preferred general election challengers to win the primary. 

Arizona and Michigan — election deniers poised to win primaries to be their state's top election official

In two of the battleground states that flipped from Trump to President Joe Biden in the 2020 election, the race for secretary of state, the top election official, is on the minds of Trump and other who believe that election was "stolen."

In Arizona, State Rep. Mark Finchem, a member of the far right Oath Keepers who helped organize the "#StopTheSteal" movement in Arizona, is running on a platform of outlawing early voting. Finchem was endorsed by Trump in Sept. 2021.

Both he and another primary candidate, state Rep. Shawnna Bolick, believe the Arizona legislature should be empowered to overturn the will of the voters and choose its own presidential electors and revoke election certifications. They are facing down two other Republican candidates, state Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita and businessman Beau Lane, who don't believe in election conspiracies but still support stricter voting requirements.

Democrats have two candidates: Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, a controversial figure who went against Hobbs' office's counsel and sent Democratic primary ballots to registered partisans who didn't request them, and Arizona House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding, who has more buy-in from the state party.

In Michigan, there is no primary to choose the position; instead the state's respective parties vote for their preferred candidate. 

Kristina Karamo, the likely GOP nominee in November, was a poll watcher in 2020 who signed an affidavit claiming she had witnessed voter fraud during the ballot counting in Detroit. Her claim has been debunked. She signed onto a lawsuit to overturn Biden's 154,188 vote win in 2020 and called for a "forensic audit" of the election. 

She will face Democratic incumbent Jocelyn Benson, who helped institute dropping the state's requirement that voters have an excuse in order to obtain a mail ballot, the result of a 2018 ballot measure. In 2020, Benson sent all registered voters an absentee ballot application, which prompted the criticism of Trump and Republicans. 

Arizona state Senate's 10th District: GOP House Speaker Rusty Bowers faces party revolt in his bid for state Senate

Arizona GOP House Speaker Rusty Bowers, following his decision to testify before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, is facing a revolt from his party. He's term-limited out of his House seat, and is instead running for state Senate. While typically such a prominent Republican leader might easily win a primary contest, Bowers' case is different. 

Capitol Riot Investigation
Rusty Bowers, Arizona state House Speaker, testifies as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to reveal its findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 21, 2022. Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Days away from the primary election, the Arizona GOP voted to formally censure the leader for his testimony, a culmination of the frustrations many far-right members have with Bowers' past refusals to support Trump-backed attempts to overturn the 2020 election. This year, for instance, Bowers helped block a bill, introduced by now-Secretary of State candidate Rep. Shawnna Bolick, that empowered the legislature to choose its own electors, regardless of how the people voted. For his actions, the former president lashed out against him, calling the Speaker a "RINO coward," and endorsed his opponent, former state Sen. David Farnsworth.

Abortion on the ballot in Kansas

Sharing the ballot with the GOP gubernatorial primary on Tuesday is Kansas' "Value Them Both Amendment," where a "yes" vote would affirm the lack of a constitutional right to abortion in Kansas and enable the GOP-led legislature to pass new laws restricting or banning abortion access. A "no" vote against the amendment upholds the right to an abortion in the state.

Kansas voters to decide if abortion should remain constitutionally protected in the state. AP Photos/John Hanna

As of the morning of Saturday, 244,990 ballots have been cast early, including 111,400 Republicans, 96,871 Democrats and 35,450 independents both with returned mail in voting and early in person voting, according to Kansas' Secretary of State office. In 2018, 70,575 voters cast a ballot early.

Kansas Governor 

Tuesday's primary will finalize the matchup between incumbent Democratic Governor Laura Kelly and Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt. Republicans are eager to oust Kelly, a former state senator who  won her race in 2018 by focusing on education and riding on a wave of economic animosity towards outgoing Republican Governor Sam Brownback and his failed economic policies.

House primaries: Test of lawmakers who voted to impeach Trump

Three of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump are on the ballot Tuesday: Peter Meijer of Michigan's 3rd District, Dan Newhouse of Washington's 4th District and Jamie Herrera-Beutler of Washington's 3rd District. 

A majority of those 10 House Republicans are out– four retired before their primaries and one, Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina, lost his primary against a Trump-backed challenger. 

Meijer, a freshman Republican in a swing district centered around Grand Rapids, Mich., is in a tough race against John Gibbs, a former Trump-era Housing and Urban Development official.

An internal poll from Gibbs campaign from mid-July showed him with an 18-point lead over Meijer. That number grows after voters are told of Trump's endorsement of Gibbs. But, Meijer has easily led in fundraising, $2.7 million raised this cycle compared to Gibbs' $484,000.

Meijer and allies argued that Gibbs would be a terrible GOP nominee who would put the seat at risk, due to his extreme stances on abortion and the 2020 election, particularly since  redistricting has pushed the district west, making it slightly more Democratic. Hillary Scholten, an attorney who lost to Meijer by 6 points in 2020, is running unopposed in the primary this year. 

Outside involvement from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee suggests Meijer is right, and Democrats agree with him that Gibbs is the weaker candidate. The DCCC, in a similar trend to other Democratic groups advertising in GOP primaries, spent at least $410,000 on an ad calling Gibbs "too conservative" for the district at the same time it touts his policies likely to be popular with Republican primary voters. 

The approach has been panned already by a notable number of House Democrats and Meijer, who called Democrats hypocritical in an op-ed Monday and noted that the DCCC's buy is more than what Gibbs has raised throughout the campaign. 

Meijer has received some outside help on his end too: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy donated $10,000 to Meijer's campaign through an affiliated PAC. 

In Washington, Newhouse and Herrera-Beutler are navigating the state's primary system, where the top two vote getters, regardless of party affiliation, move on to the general election in November. 

Both are facing Trump-backed challengers and face a risk of being shut out due to Trump-backed challengers. For Newhouse, he has to beat 2020 gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp. Herrera-Beutler has three Trump-like challengers, with former U.S. Army Green Beret Joe Kent as Trump's pick. 

"Others are trying to say they have my endorsement and they absolutely don't. I don't even know them," Trump said in a telerally for Kent

Multiple candidates could split the Trump base, which could  help Herrera-Beutler in the 3rd District, where the Democratic candidate has earned enough of the vote to make it to the November election in the last five primaries. 

Other races to watch:

  • Michigan's 11th District's Democratic primary: Two Democratic incumbents are in a primary for this seat northwest of Detroit in Oakland County. Rep. Haley Stevens has the familiarity edge over Rep. Andy Levin, since close to half of her old district remains the same under the new lines. Stevens has also been supported on the airwaves by pro-Israel PACs with ties to Republicans, a frequent complaint this Democratic primary cycle by more progressive candidates and organizations. 

  • Arizona's 2nd District Republican primary: The open GOP primary has a continuum of election deniers making their case for the seat: On one end, Ron Watkins, a Qanon conspiracy theorist and the developer behind 8kun, argued during a recent debate that Congress should have decertified the results and must investigate the 2020 election. On the other small business owner Andy Yates said he doesn't believe the 2020 election was stolen and wants to "move on" from the two-year-old contest. Between them, Arizona state Rep. Walt Blackman believes the results to have been stolen, yet rejects the idea that election results may be decertified . Any one of the three could move on to face incumbent Democratic Rep. Tom O'Halleran. 

  • Washington's 8th District: Democrat Rep. Kim Schrier's seat is a top target for House Republicans. But the party still has to pick their nominee in November: either councilman Reagan Dunn, 2020 GOP nominee Jesse Jensen or former George W. Bush aide Matt Larkin. 

  • Kansas' 3rd District: Republican-led redistricting in Kansas has made Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids' more vulnerable to flip in November. 2020 nominee Amanda Adkins will first have to get past veteran John McCaughrean. On the primary ballot in Kansas is a vote on restricting abortion access, which Adkins has backed. 

Sarah Ewall-Wice contributed to this article.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this report said that Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson had sent absentee ballots to every voter in the state. In 2020, Benson sent all registered voters an absentee ballot application. This story has been updated.

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