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7 things to watch for in primaries in Colorado, Illinois and other states

<i>E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service/Getty Images</i><br/>June 28 is the last round of primaries before the midterm election season takes a brief summer hiatus and could be the last stand for a handful of high-profile incumbents facing challenges for their seats.
E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service/Getty Images
June 28 is the last round of primaries before the midterm election season takes a brief summer hiatus and could be the last stand for a handful of high-profile incumbents facing challenges for their seats.

By Gregory Krieg and Eric Bradner, CNN

Tuesday’s last round of primaries before the midterm election season takes a brief summer hiatus could be the last stand for a handful of high-profile incumbents facing challenges for their seats or clashing with each other to keep their places on Capitol Hill.

There are also far-reaching implications in down-ballot, statewide races — none more so than in Colorado, where a 2020 election denier is running in the Republican primary to be the state’s top elections official.

Illinois is home to two races featuring sitting House members, after redistricting jumbled the state’s congressional map. In the new 6th District, Democratic Reps. Marie Newman and Sean Casten are locked in a tight race. Republicans in the state’s 15th District will also have to choose between incumbents in a race pitting Rep. Mary Miller against Rep. Rodney Davis.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, a progressive challenger, Kina Collins, is trying again to unseat Rep. Danny Davis, who has represented the 7th District since 1997. Davis handily defeated Collins and two others in 2020, but this time around Collins has the support of influential progressive groups.

Redistricting has also created some waves in Colorado, where a new seat north of Denver is expected to be up for grabs in one of the most competitive general election races. Four Republicans are vying for the nomination and a chance to take on Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo, the only candidate from her party to qualify for the ticket.

A pair of Republican House members in Mississippi will also try to hang on to their seats and win GOP primary runoffs on Tuesday.

New Yorkers go to the polls for their first round of primary voting — this time for statewide offices, including governor and lieutenant governor. Voters will also head to the polls in Utah, in Oklahoma and in South Carolina primary runoffs.

Author Catherine Fleming Bruce and state Rep. Krystle Matthews, both of whom are Black women, are vying for the Democratic Senate nomination in South Carolina. The winner will take on the only Black Republican senator, incumbent Tim Scott.

Here are seven things to watch for in Tuesday’s primaries:

Republicans could choose an election denier for Colorado’s top elections post

Colorado Republicans are set to decide whether to nominate Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, an election denier who has faced criminal charges over her efforts to justify falsehoods about voting machines, for secretary of state, a position that would make her Colorado’s top elections official.

Peters’ primary opponent is Pam Anderson, a former county clerk and former head of the state’s clerks’ association who has defended Colorado’s all-mail elections system and offered herself as a competent manager of that system.

Peters and her top deputy were indicted in March after an investigation by local authorities into a security breach that resulted in confidential voting machine logins, and forensic images of their hard drives, being published in a QAnon-affiliated Telegram channel in early August 2021. In May, after a lawsuit brought by Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a district judge stripped Peters of her duties overseeing this year’s elections in Mesa County. She has pleaded not guilty.

The winner of Tuesday’s election will take on Griswold in the fall.

A Peters primary victory would make her the latest in a line of election deniers nominated by Republicans for roles that would position them, if they win this fall, to take over their states’ election machinery in time for the 2024 presidential race.

Republicans will also choose their nominee to take on Democratic Gov. Jared Polis. The GOP candidates are Heidi Ganahl, a member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents and the founder of the dog care franchise Camp Bow Wow, and Greg Lopez, a former mayor of Parker, a town southeast of Denver. Republicans last held the Colorado governor’s office in 2007.

Colorado US Senate primary tests GOP voters’ approach to abortion

The Republican race to take on Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in November will be an early test of how the party’s voters are weighing abortion rights and electability in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade last week.

Businessman Joe O’Dea, who supports abortion rights aside from late-term abortions, faces state Rep. Ron Hanks, who opposes abortion in all cases. Hanks was among those who showed up at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, though he has said he did not go inside the building, and he has parroted false conspiracy theories about voting machines and widespread election fraud.

Democrats have made no secret of their hopes in the race: A progressive super PAC has spent money on TV ads portraying Hanks as conservative, a clear effort to lift him into a general election in which Democrats view him as the weaker candidate.

House incumbents square off in two Illinois primaries

Last year’s redistricting process in Illinois resulted in two incumbent-vs.-incumbent primaries in Tuesday’s primary.

In Chicago’s western suburbs, two Democrats, Casten and Newman, are squaring off for the newly drawn 6th District seat. It’s an awkward fit for both incumbents. Newman lives outside the new district, while Casten lives in it. But more of Newman’s constituents from the district she currently represents are in the new 6th District, while most of Casten’s current constituents were shifted to another district.

Meanwhile, in a Republican clash in southern Illinois’ 15th District, Miller, a freshman who appeared onstage alongside former President Donald Trump at a rally over the weekend, faces the more moderate Rodney Davis. Miller has a history of incendiary comments. At the rally, she thanked Trump for the “victory for White life” after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Her campaign quickly backtracked, saying she’d meant to call it a “victory for right to life.”

Another Chicago-area House race to watch is in the 7th District, where longtime Rep. Danny Davis, 80, faces a challenge from the left in 31-year-old activist Collins, who is backed by the progressive group Justice Democrats.

And in the 8th District, on the south side of Chicago, Jonathan Jackson, the son of civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson, is among a slew of candidates vying to replace retiring Rep. Bobby Rush, who is the only politician to ever defeat former President Barack Obama, holding off the then-state senator’s primary challenge in 2000.

Trump wades into GOP race for Illinois governor

The Republican primary field vying to take on Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker in November includes Richard Irvin, the first Black mayor of Aurora, who is backed by the billionaire Ken Griffin, and Darren Bailey, a conservative state senator who was endorsed by Trump and is backed by another billionaire Republican donor, Dick Uihlein.

Bailey, in a debate, called Chicago a “crime-ridden, corrupt, dysfunctional hellhole,” though he is seeking to become governor of the state for which Chicago is the economic center. In the state legislature in 2019, he sponsored a resolution that would separate Chicago from the rest of Illinois; as a candidate for governor he has backed away from that position.

Trump campaigned with Bailey over the weekend, using a rally with Bailey and Miller to praise the Supreme Court for overturning Roe v. Wade and to criticize the House committee that’s investigating the January 6 insurrection. “Darren is just the man to take on and defeat one of the worst governors in America,” the former President said at the rally.

Oklahoma GOP chooses two Senate nominees

Republicans in Oklahoma will choose their nominees in two Senate races on Tuesday: a special election to replace the retiring Sen. Jim Inhofe, and Sen. James Lankford’s reelection bid, in which he faces a conservative challenger who criticized him for failing to back Trump’s lies about election fraud.

Lankford is favored to defeat evangelical pastor Jackson Lahmeyer. But the primary to replace Inhofe is wide open, and if no candidate tops 50% the top two will advance to an August runoff. The candidates include Rep. Markwayne Mullin, Trump’s former Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt, former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon and Inhofe aide Luke Holland.

An early referendum for New York state’s new leadership pair

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who took office after former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned in disgrace last year, and her second selection for lieutenant governor, former Rep. Antonio Delgado, are on the ballot Tuesday in the first of two primary days in the Empire State.

Not on the ballot this week: The hotly contested congressional races created by a ramshackle redistricting process, which aren’t happening until the end of August. The division has created confusion among many New Yorkers, in what is shaping up to be a low-turnout election, in which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is running unopposed.

Hochul is considered a prohibitive favorite in her race against New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, a progressive champion who has struggled to raise money and to campaign, in part because of difficulties at home — his wife was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2021 and his daughter was born prematurely earlier this year — and Rep. Tom Suozzi, a Long Island Democrat who has run to Hochul’s right with an almost singular focus on public safety.

The more intriguing race is for the lieutenant governor’s seat, where Delgado — who took office a little more than a month ago after now-former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin resigned after being indicted on federal corruption charges — is still new on the job and kept a low profile until the tail end of the campaign. His top challenger is Ana María Archila, a longtime progressive organizer recruited to run earlier this year by the Working Families Party after she stepped down as co-executive director at the Center for Popular Democracy.

With the scandals that ultimately led Cuomo to leave the governorship still fresh in the minds of many New Yorkers, Archila has campaigned on a promise to hold the governor accountable — a clear jab at Hochul over her time as Cuomo’s lieutenant governor — and criticized Delgado for spending big on television ads at the expense, she says, of doing the hard yards on the campaign trail.

2 House GOP incumbents in jeopardy in Mississippi runoff

Mississippi Republicans in three congressional districts head back to the polls on Tuesday to determine the political fates of a pair of incumbent House members and choose a challenger to a high-profile Democrat this fall.

Incumbent Republican Reps. Michael Guest, in the 3rd Congressional District, and Steven Palazzo, in the 4th, were forced into runoffs during the first round of primary voting on June 8.

The other GOP runoff is in the 2nd District, between Brian Flowers and Ronald Eller, who are vying for a chance to take on Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, chair of the House’s January 6 select committee, in the general election.

Palazzo, who has come under fire for alleged misuse of campaign and congressional funds (among other ethical issues), finished first in a seven-candidate field earlier this month, but, with only about 31% of the vote, fell well short of the clear majority needed to clinch the nomination. He has denied any wrongdoing. Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell came in second, setting up a one-on-one race.

Guest, who broke Republican ranks when he voted for an independent commission to probe the January 6 Capitol riots, is facing off with challenger Michael Cassidy, who won the most votes in a three-candidate race on June 8.

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