Pennsylvania’s Republican Senate contest, the biggest and most expensive primary-night race in five states, is a photo-finish between David McCormick, a former hedge fund executive, and Dr. Mehmet Oz, the famed surgeon. It appears to be heading for a statewide recount.
The night delivered a split decision for former President Donald J. Trump, with his pick for Idaho governor well short, Dr. Oz in a virtual tie and his nominees for North Carolina Senate and governor of Pennsylvania triumphant.
On the Democratic side, voters pushed for change rather than consensus, nominating a left-wing political brawler to the Senate in Pennsylvania and pushing a moderate House leader closer to defeat in Oregon as votes were counted from day to day.
Here are some key takeaways from the primaries on Tuesday, the biggest day yet of the 2022 midterm cycle:
Republican voters have mostly rewarded candidates who contest the 2020 election results.
The most successful Republican candidates on Tuesday were those who most aggressively questioned the results of the 2020 election and campaigned to further restrict voting and reshuffle the election process.
Doug Mastriano, the far-right candidate who won the GOP nomination for governor of Pennsylvania in a landslide, attended the January 6, 2021 rally, which led to the assault on the Capitol and has since called for the 2020 election results to be decertified.
Rep. Ted Budd of North Carolina, who beat a former governor by more than 30 percentage points in the state’s Republican primary for the Senate, voted against certification of the 2020 election results last year. — and, following that contest, texted Mark Meadows, then the White House chief of staff, to push the false claim that Dominion Voting Systems may have had a connection to liberal billionaire George Soros.
On Tuesday, Mr Budd declined to say President Biden was the rightful winner of 2020.
Voters in Pennsylvania’s Republican Senate primary sent a more mixed message: Kathy Barnette, a far-right commentator who has centered her campaign on Mr. Trump’s campaign lies, followed his narrowly divided rivals, Mr. McCormick and Dr. Oz early Wednesday.
But Ms Barnette, with around 25 per cent of the vote, performed much better than many political watchers expected just two weeks ago, when she began a last-minute push on strong debates.
Mr. McCormick and Dr. Oz are hardly attached to reality on electoral matters. Both have refused to recognize Mr. Biden as the rightful winner in 2020, playing for their party’s base of Trump supporters.
The success of the election deniers comes after a year and a half in which Mr Trump continued to focus on his 2020 loss and, in some places, called on Republican state lawmakers to try to decertify their states’ results. – something that has no basis in law.
The GOP will feel optimistic about the Pennsylvania Senate race. The governor’s contest is another story.
Republicans avoided what many saw as a disaster in the general election when Ms Barnette, who had a long history of offensive comments and who according to federal records, finished ninth in the battle to raise funds in the race for the Pennsylvania Senate slipped far behind Mr. McCormick and Dr. Oz.
Mr. McCormick, a former hedge fund executive, and Dr. Oz, who has been endorsed by Mr. Trump, have largely self-funded their campaigns and may continue to do so, although neither would have much trouble raising funds in a general election. .
The eventual winner will face Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat who has long been a favorite of progressives but recently veered to center as his primary victory was assured.
With nearly all the votes counted, the margin between Mr. McCormick and Dr. Oz was well under half a percent, the threshold to trigger automatic recounts for statewide races in Pennsylvania. Before that can happen, thousands of mail-in votes still need to be counted in counties across the state.
Whoever emerges from the Republican Senate primary will be on a ticket with, and likely to be asked to defend the positions taken by, Mr. Mastriano. He ran a far-right campaign and is running in the general election as an underdog to Josh Shapiro, the state’s Democratic attorney general.
Trump’s endorsement is still worth a lot. But Republican voters often have a mind of their own.
In Ohio this month, JD Vance got 32% of the vote. In Nebraska last week, Charles W. Herbster got 30%. And on Tuesday alone:
Dr. Mehmet Oz hovered around 31% of the vote in Pennsylvania.
Bo Hines got 32% in a North Carolina home primary.
Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin of Idaho lost her gubernatorial primary by about a quarter of the vote.
All of these candidates were endorsed by Mr. Trump in competitive primaries. And the outcome of those races has established the value of his endorsement in 2022: About a third of Republican primary voters will back candidate Trump.
In some races, like Mr. Vance’s race for the Senate and Mr. Hines’ race, that’s enough to win and for the former president to claim credit. Elsewhere, such as in Mr. Herbster’s bid for governor, the Trump-backed nominee has failed.
Admittedly, Mr. Trump has won far more races than he has lost, and he saved face on Tuesday night with his belated endorsement of Mr. Mastriano as polls showed the Pennsylvania candidate had a strong lead. .
Mr. Trump’s early endorsement of Mr. Budd in the North Carolina Senate race has stifled support and fundraising for Mr. Budd’s established-minded rivals, including former Governor Pat McCrory.
But in Nebraska, Mr. Herbster and Mr. Trump could not compete with a local political machine and millions of dollars from Governor Pete Ricketts. In Pennsylvania, some local Republicans have never reconciled with Dr. Oz despite Trump’s endorsement.
None of this bodes well for Mr Trump’s Georgian picks, who face cash disadvantages and, unlike primary contests so far this year, entrenched incumbents. The Georgia primaries are next week.
Conor Lamb said eligibility was most important. The voters accepted – and chose John Fetterman.
When he burst onto the national political scene in 2018 by winning a special election in a House district that Mr. Trump won by 18 points, Conor Lamb cast himself as the Democrat who could win over Republican voters in difficult races.
Mr Lamb has made eligibility his central pitch to Pennsylvania voters in this year’s Senate race. Democratic voters did not disagree – they simply decided overwhelmingly that his opponent, Mr Fetterman, was the best general election pick in the race.
Mr. Fetterman, who left the campaign trail on Friday after suffering a stroke and having a pacemaker installed on Tuesday, outperformed Mr. Lamb in all aspects of the campaign.
The lieutenant governor has raised far more money than Mr. Lamb, even though the congressman has employed the same fundraising team used by Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader. Mr. Fetterman’s muscular liberal agenda has also energized more voters than Mr. Lamb, who upon entering Congress distanced himself not only from left-wing Democrats but also from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom he refused to support as party leader.
Ultimately, Mr. Lamb turned out to be perfect for the resistance-era Democrats of 2018 and 2020, when primary voters adopted a win-at-all-costs posture. But now that the party controls Congress and the White House, Pennsylvania Democrats decided to pick a candidate they saw as more of a fighter.
Progressives also had a good night elsewhere: In Oregon, Rep. Kurt Schrader, a veteran Democratic centrist, was trailing a left-wing opponent, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, badly. She had hit out at Mr. Schrader, who was backed by Mr. Biden, for voting against key elements of the Democratic leadership’s policy agenda.
Madison Cawthorn has found out the hard way that voters have a limit.
Two years ago, Rep. Madison Cawthorn burst into Congress like a rocket, winning an upset victory over a Trump-endorsed candidate in a primary for her western North Carolina district and becoming a media sensation. instant national.
On Tuesday, he lost his primary and quit his election night party without delivering a concession speech.
In the end, even pro-Trump Republican voters in western North Carolina had had enough. The flurry of embarrassing videos from Mr. Cawthorn’s personal life, which emerged after he angered fellow Republicans with savage claims that members of Congress had used cocaine and staged orgies, has gone viral. turned out to be too much.
This was not an example of Republicans choosing eligibility over a firebrand. Mr. Cawthorn was unlikely to lose a general election, even though the Democrats would have thrown a ton of money at him to try.
Instead, party leaders in Washington and North Carolina have sought to rid themselves of a problem child among them by uniting around Chuck Edwards, a state senator backed by Senator Thom Tillis and an array of other North Carolina Republicans.
The defeat ends for now the brief political career of Mr. Cawthorn, which began with the promise of being the youngest person ever elected to Congress.
Now, at 26, he finds himself with a huge social following and potentially lucrative career opportunities outside of electoral politics.
May 18, 2022
Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article misstated Madison Cawthorn’s age. It’s 26, not 27.