Live updates: Primaries in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, Wisconsin could help shape next Congress

  • In Politics
  • 2022-08-10 00:01:28Z

Tuesday's primaries in four states - Connecticut, Minnesota Vermont and Wisconsin - will determine who's running in November's midterms in an election that will decide how far President Joe Biden can advance his agenda in the second half of his term.

The Aug. 9 contests also will provide another round in former President Donald Trump's ongoing proxy war with Mike Pence, his former vice president, as they are backing different contenders in the Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial primary. The winner is expected to face incumbent Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

And the retirement of Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy, the Senate's longest active serving member, is opening up the seat for the first time in almost half a century.

Polls close in Connecticut, where few primary shake ups are expected

Polls have now closed in Connecticut, but it may be awhile before official results come in, as counting is handled on a town by town basis. And, it's up to local officials whether to count mail ballots before or after polls close.

The Republican primary for governor was canceled, as Republican business executive Bob Stefanowski is running uncontested against Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont in November, teeing up a rematch of their close 2018 race.

One competitive primary race is the Republican challenge to Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Three candidates - Cuban-American businesswoman Leora Levy, former state Representative Themis Klarides and attorney Peter Lumaj are vying to face Blumenthal in November, but he's expected to defend his seat.

- Katherine Swartz

Polls close in Vermont

The first polls of primary Tuesday have closed at 7 p.m. in Vermont, where the state has an open congressional seat for the first time in 16 years.

With Vermont's senior Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, retiring after 48 years in office and the state's only House member, Rep. Peter Welch, running to take his place, Vermont has an open seat in the lower chamber of Congress.

As far as Welch's seat goes, State Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint and Lt. Gov. Molly Gray are both vying to become the first woman the voters send to Congress in the state's history. Balint has the support of Sen. Bernie Sanders, while Gray has the support of retiring Leahy. And, there are several other statewide races up for grabs.

- Candy Woodall and Katherine Swartz

Backed by Trump, Wisconsin gov candidate not looking back to 2020

Tim Michels and his top two opponents in the Wisconsin Republican primary for governor distanced themselves from Trump during an Aug. 1 town hall candidate forum when asked by a Republican voter whether they would support another Trump candidacy in light of his actions during the Jan. 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol attack.

"Now, 2024 - I'm focused on this election right now," Michels said. "I have made no commitments to any candidates in 2024. What I'm focusing on is beating Tony Evers."

- Molly Beck, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Ella Lee

Abortion rights on the line in Wisconsin governor's race

The winner of Wisconsin's governor's race could decide the fate of abortion rights in the state.

Wisconsin's pre-Roe abortion ban dates back to an 1849 law that bans the procedure except to protect the life of a mother and makes it a felony for anyone other than the mother to "destroy the life of an unborn child."

While Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has vowed to fight back against restrictive measures, the two frontrunners in the state's Republican primary are against abortion rights, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

- Ella Lee

Barnes seeks history in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Democratic primary for Senate was one of the more competitive elections this year until about a month ago, when Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes's rivals exited suddenly.

As a result Barnes, an unabashed progressive, has seen a surge in fundraising for a historic bid to be the state's first Black senator.

Mandela Barners
Mandela Barners  

Political forecasts rank Wisconsin's Senate race as "leans Republican" in the midterms, but Democrats believe GOP incumbent Ron Johnson is weakening.

June survey conducted by Marquette Law School, for instance, showed Barnes leading Republican incumbent Ron Johnson by two percentage points.

- Phillip M. Bailey

Trump versus Pence... again

Another proxy war between former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence will play out Tuesday as Trump-endorsed Tim Michels and Pence-endorsed Rebecca Kleefisch compete for Wisconsin's Republican nomination for governor.

On Friday in Waukesha, the former president held a rally for Michels, a political newcomer and wealthy pipeline construction executive. Two days prior, Pence swooped into Wisconsin to stump for Kleefisch, who served as lieutenant governor under Scott Walker.

The primary's winner will face off against Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

- Ella Lee

Connecticut rematch for governor

Republican Bob Stefanowski lost to Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont by about three percentage points in 2018, and the 60-year-old business executive is vying for a rematch.

Stefanowski was going to have a primary opponent on Tuesday, but former House Republican leader Themis Klarides dropped out in January to run for Senate.

Klarides, who was endorsed by the Connecticut GOP, is one of three Republicans battling to challenge Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal this fall.

Phillip M. Bailey

After nearly 50 years, Vermont Senate seat up for grabs

With the news that Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy would not seek reelection, the Democratic senator's seat is up for grabs for the first time in almost 50 years.

Three Democrats, three Republicans and one Vermont Progressive Party candidate are vying for the spot.

The Democrats are Congressman Peter Welch, emergency room physician Niki Thran and activist Isaac Evans-Frantz. The Republicans are Army veteran Gerald Malloy, businessman Myers Mermel and Christina Nolan, a former U.S. Attorney for Vermont. And the independent candidate is Vermont Progressive Party treasurer Martha Abbott.


Leahy was elected to the Senate in 1974 and announced his retirement in November 2021.

- Ella Lee

Two Democrats vying to be Vermont's first woman in Congress

Every state has sent a woman to Congress except Vermont. That's likely to change in November, as the two Democrats vying for the state's lone House seat are women.

Current Rep. Peter Welch is running for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Patrick Leahy. State Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint and Lt. Gov. Molly Gray are leading the Democratic primary to replace him. Welch has held the seat since 2007.

Balint - a former schoolteacher who has been in the statehouse since 2014 - is the frontrunner for Tuesday night's primary. She has the support of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale, who dropped out of the race in May and immediately backed Balint.

No matter if Balint or Gray wins the primary, they are the favorite for the general election and would become the first woman to represent Vermont in Congress.

- Katherine Swartz

When do the polls close

Vermont's polls are the first to close Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.

Connecticut's polls close next at 8 p.m. ET.

Both Minnesota and Wisconsin's polls close at 9 p.m. ET.

- Ella Lee

Contributing: Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Primaries live updates: Wisconsin Senate seat, Trump v. Pence-again


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