Primary elections continued on Tuesday. In Vermont, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, progressives — as incumbents and in open races — had a solid night, either clearing the field before primary day or beating back challengers.
Republicans in Wisconsin and Connecticut, the fourth state to hold primaries Tuesday, split between supporting establishment-backed candidates and Trump-boosted challengers to take on Democratic incumbents in the governor’s office (Wisconsin) and the US Senate (Connecticut). Still, just one day after the FBI raided his residence in Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s influence over the party remained certain, with successful endorsements in both states — and a concession by an incumbent Republican who voted to impeach the then-president.
Here are three winners and one loser from the day’s races.
Progressives cruised to victory in their primaries in Vermont and Wisconsin; in Minnesota, Squad member Rep. Ilhan Omar had a close primary, however, just eking out a win. It was a surprising turn of events given the advantage incumbents typically enjoy. In most cases, all the progressives who won their races did so in deep blue territory and are widely expected to go on to win their seats.
Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint, who was backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders and a slate of other progressive leaders, prevailed over Lt. Gov. Molly Gray in the state’s first wide-open US House race since 2006. Gray has earned endorsements from moderates — including former Govs. Madeline Kunin and Howard Dean as well as retiring Sen. Patrick Leahy — and was portrayed by Balint as a “corporatist and a catastrophe for the left.” The seat is rated “solid Democrat” by the Cook Political Report, meaning that Balint will likely become the first woman and first openly gay person to represent Vermont in Congress.
Rep. Peter Welch, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who was also backed by Sanders, cleared the field early in his bid to replace Leahy in the Senate after 15 years serving as Vermont’s only House member. His Democratic opponents, Dr. Niki Thran and Isaac Evans-Franz, never came within striking distance. He’s also heading into November as the clear favorite and would be only the second Democrat ever elected to the US Senate from Vermont. Leahy, the first, has served since 1975; the state’s other senator, Bernie Sanders, caucuses with the Democrats, but is an independent.
In Minnesota’s Fifth District, which is also rated “solid Democrat,” progressive Squad member Rep. Ilhan Omar narrowly fended off a challenger from her right, Don Samuels, leading by just over 2 percentage points as of Tuesday night. She faced a similar challenge in 2020, and won by a nearly 20 percentage point margin.
Samuels, a former Minneapolis City Council member, promised to be a more moderate representative, and ran heavily on public safety. He helped defeat a proposed ballot measure to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety after a city police officer killed George Floyd in May 2020. Omar, a proponent of the progressive movement to “defund the police,” had supported the proposal. Clearly, Samuels’s message resonated in the district, and his near-win will likely encourage future challenges to Omar.
Rep. Betty McCollum, who represents Minnesota’s neighboring Fourth District, successfully defended her progressive record against Amane Badhasso, who came to the US as a refugee from Ethiopia and sought to portray herself as a new generation of progressive. It’s also considered a safe Democratic seat.
Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes effectively won the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Sen. Ron Johnson before Election Day even began. The Democratic primary was initially crowded, but Barnes’s three main rivals — Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry, Wisconsin state treasurer Sarah Godlewski, and Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson — dropped out of the race weeks ahead of the primary to coalesce behind him, hoping that doing so would boost Democrats’ chances of winning what is shaping up to be one of 2022’s most competitive Senate races. —Nicole Narea
Loser: Jaime Herrera Beutler
The Washington state Republican, one of 10 GOP House members who voted to impeach Trump after the January 6 Capitol attack, didn’t have her primary on Tuesday. But she did concede defeat Tuesday night after a Trump-backed challenger solidified a narrow lead in last week’s primary.
Herrera Beutler was starting a sixth term as a member of Congress when she voted to impeach Trump, inciting the former president’s fury and a primary challenge from Joe Kent, a Trump-endorsed former Army Green Beret. He will now be the GOP’s candidate in the state’s Third Congressional District, just north of Portland, Oregon.
With her primary loss, only one Republican who voted to impeach Trump appears likely to return to Congress, Rep. Dan Newhouse, of Washington’s Fourth Congressional District. Four decided not to run for reelection; four others, including Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer last Tuesday, lost their primaries. —Christian Paz
Winner: Donald Trump
Just a day after the FBI raided his Florida home, Donald Trump’s bets in an array of primary contests Tuesday night seem to have paid off. Unlike on other primary days, the former president’s picks weren’t necessarily clear winners — this time, Trump took some risks in order to pursue grudges and boost candidates who more fully embraced his election lies.
His pick in Wisconsin’s Republican primary for governor, the businessman and political outsider Tim Michels, was on track to defeat the establishment-backed former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch — whom former Vice President Mike Pence endorsed. That win follows a similar one for Trump in Arizona, where his gubernatorial candidate, Kari Lake, defeated Pence’s pick, Karrin Taylor Robson (as well as a Pence victory over Trump in Georgia back in May).
At the state government level, Robin Vos, the powerful Republican speaker of the Wisconsin assembly and perennial antagonist to the state’s Democratic governor, came out less that 2 percentage points ahead ofAdam Steen, a Trump-endorsed challenger,on Tuesday night. Steen lost, but he did surprisingly well for a political newcomer with a small operationwhom Trump seemed to back out of spite for Vos not trying harder to overturn the state’s 2020 election results. Trump-backed candidates in another Wisconsin state assembly race and a US House race, Janel Brandtjen and Derrick Van Orden respectively, both ran uncontested.
In Connecticut’s GOP Senate race, Leora Levy, a Republican fundraiser whom Trump endorsed just last week, beat the party’s former state House leader, Themis Klarides, who until recently was seen as the moderate frontrunner in the race. —CP
Winner: Election lies
Herrera Buetler’s loss was one of several signals Tuesday night that the GOP has gone all-in on Trump’s 2020 election lies.
In the Republican primary for governor in Wisconsin, the Trump-endorsed victor, businessman Tim Michels, has said that he agrees with Trump that there was election fraud in 2020 and that, as governor, he would consider signing a bill that would decertify the 2020 election results, even though there is no legal mechanism to do so. He has also said that he supports dismantling the Wisconsin Elections Commission, a bipartisan organization that presides over elections in the state. His rival, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, took similar stances.
In Connecticut, Dominic Rapini, the former board chair of a group that has advanced claims of voter fraud, won the GOP nomination for secretary of state. He has said that his first act in office would be to eliminate the position of Connecticut’s elections misinformation officer, who will be hired this year to monitor the internet and defend against foreign and domestic interference in elections conducted in the state.
Trump-backed Adam Steen, who ran on a platform of decertifying the 2020 election results in Wisconsin, quickly came within striking distance of incumbent Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who has been in the assembly since 2005. As of Tuesday night, Steen lost by less than 2 percentage points — a much smaller margin than anticipated, given his lack of a large campaign.
Other GOP candidates who prevailed on Tuesday, including Levy in Connecticut, have gestured more broadly at the importance of “election integrity” in the wake of 2020 and accused Democrats of making elections less secure.
It wasn’t just Trump’s election lies that saw success Tuesday, but his penchant for downplaying Covid-19 as well. Scott Jensen, a physician and former Minnesota state senator, won the Republican primary for governor after falsely claiming that Covid-19 death tolls were inflated. He argued that they were “skewed” because they accounted for elderly people who would have died within a few years anyway, and has also criticized incumbent Democratic Gov. Tim Walz’s vaccine mandates. —NN
The photograph of highly classified documents strewn across the floor at Mar-a-Lago beside a box of framed Time magazines had already gone viral Wednesday morning as perhaps the defining image of the ongoing investigation into Donald Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified information.
The image was attached to a 36-page filing from the Department of Justice in the ongoing court battle by Trump to have a special master review the documents seized by federal agents when they searched Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private Florida club and residence, in August. And it’s by no means the most damning claim from the overnight court filing, which you can read below.
In the filing, the DOJ asserts that Trump was likely taking efforts to obstruct justice: “The government also developed evidence that government records were likely concealed and removed from the Storage Room and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation.”
Trump’s lawyers claimed to the DOJ there were no other classified documents at Mar-a-Lago in June. After handing over what they claimed were the remaining classified documents in a sealed legal envelope, a Trump lawyer “represented that there were no other records stored in any private office space or other location at the Premises and that all available boxes were searched.” That envelope contained “38 unique documents bearing classification markings including . . . 17 documents marked as TOP SECRET.”
The August search warrant at Mar-a-Lago produced “over a hundred classified records including information classified at the highest levels,” including three classified documents that “were located in the desks in the ’45 [Trump’s personal] Office.’”
The filing also contains detailed arguments against the appointment of a special master to review the documents, which Trump has claimed is necessary to review the documents to determine if they contain any privileged material. The DOJ noted a review by a filter team for any privileged information had already been completed. It also pushed back against Trump’s claims of executive privilege to justify holding on to the documents that the National Archives had requested under the Presidential Records Act, noting that there is no precedent for invoking executive privilege “to prohibit the sharing of documents within the Executive Branch.”
Trump’s lawyers are due to file a response on Wednesday, and a hearing is scheduled for Thursday in the matter before Aileen Cannon, a Trump-nominated federal judge in South Florida.
On his personal social media site, Truth Social, Trump said Thursday morning “Terrible the way the FBI, during the Raid of Mar-a-Lago, threw documents haphazardly all over the floor (perhaps pretending it was me that did it!), and then started taking pictures of them for the public to see. Thought they wanted them kept Secret? Lucky I Declassified!”
Trump has claimed that he had somehow automatically declassified any documents at Mar-a-Lago. There is no evidence that he did so, and his lawyers have not made the same claims in court filings.
Oz in his capacity as a physician, the 2019 version of Oz, sounded pretty pro-choice in that interview. “Just being logical about it,” Oz said then, “if you think that the moment of conception you’ve got a life, then why would you even wait six weeks? Right, then an in vitro fertilized egg is still a life.”
Which is apparently what 2022 Oz believes: Life begins at conception and it’s murder no matter what. Or at least that’s what May 2022 Oz said he believed. Now that it’s general election time and he’s not chasing the MAGAiest of the MAGAs for votes, Oz seems to think that maybe abortion is not always murder.
In a town hall meeting this week, Oz found some exceptions to his “100% pro-life” abortion-is-always-murder position: the health of the mother, rape, and incest. That’s a variation on the gaslighting forced birth proponents trotted out when various horror stories about abortion bans started emerging.
Like about the 10-year-old rape survivor who had to travel out of Ohio to obtain an abortion. Or people having miscarriages, or people whose lives are threatened by ectopic pregnancies. Those don’t really count as abortions, they have tried to insist. Terminating those kind of pregnancies, Catherine Glenn Foster, the head of Americans United for Life, testified would fall under any exception and would not be an abortion.
The Oz who was a doctor knows that’s bullshit. Abortion is abortion and it is a safe and essential medical treatment for millions. It is necessary for all kinds of reasons that are nobody’s business other than the person needing an abortion and whomever they wish to involve. No matter how the pregnancy occurred.
“I trust democracy,” Oz said this week in that town hall, trying to change the subject. “I trust your ability to influence our representatives in Harrisburg, which is where this decision should be made. It’s not talked about in the Constitution.”
But if he’s elected to the Senate, and if there’s a Republican majority, he’s going to have to be held accountable on this. Because there will be a Republican bill to create a federal abortion ban and he’ll have to take a position.
The White House has announced that President and First Lady Biden will be hosting Barack and Michelle Obama for their White House portrait unveiling.
The White House announced in a statement provided to PoliticusUSA, “On Wednesday, September 7, at 1:30 PM ET, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will host former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama for the unveiling of their official White House portraits.”
Normally, the White House portrait unveiling for the previous president would have taken place a year or two after the previous president left office.
For example, here is George W. Bush’s unveiling ceremony that took place in 2012:
Trump is still accusing Obama of crimes, so there is no doubt that if Trump would have won a second term, Obama would be waiting for him to leave office before unveiling his White House portrait.
Portrait unveilings at the White House are historic, as there are only five living ex-presidents, so anytime one makes a public appearance with the current president, it represents one-sixth of the living individuals who have been/are president.
It will be a special day in the White House, and one that is long overdue as Obama and Biden will be reunited at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association