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2022 Primaries Continue: Trump Endorsements & the Pence Curse

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  • Source: UncoverDC
  • 09/19/2023

The 2022 primaries continue, and one lesson is becoming clear; if you want to win elections now, don't allow Pence to endorse you. Georgia is the only state where Trump endorsements have failed. Wisconsin, Minnesota, Connecticut, and Vermont held primaries on Tuesday.


Tim Michels' gubernatorial race was a blowout partly because of the Trump endorsement. His opponent, former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, is actually a pretty solid conservative, but she made a huge mistake in allowing Pence to endorse her, according to pollster Richard Baris. She had a solid track record in the state and should not have lost with the kind of margin she did.

Trump called Kleefisch a "political insider" and chose Michels instead. Tim Michels is a retired Airborne Ranger Infantry Officer who guarded the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a real honor by any standard. Michels is a businessman with the ground game, the organization, and the funding to win in the General Election against Tony Evers.

Wisconsin state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos won narrowly against Trump-endorsed Adam Steen. Steen's performance was remarkable, given Vos is the longest-serving Assembly leader in state history. Vos' narrow win is most likely due to anger in the Republican ranks over the Wisconsin 2020 election. Vos refused to overturn or decertify the results of the election, even though there is now ample evidence that the election was heavily influenced by the infiltration of ZuckerBucks, drop boxes, and mail-in ballots in 5 key cities. Dropboxes are now officially outlawed in the state.

Trump-endorsed Derrick Van Orden ran unopposed in WI03. Democratic Rep. Ron Kind beat Van Orden in 2020 but decided to retire this year. Trump said he endorsed Van Orden because "[h]e strongly supports our Military, Veterans, Law Enforcement, and he will always fight for Secure Borders, the Second Amendment, and our incredible Farmers."

Incumbent Senator Ron Johnson will face Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes in November. Johnson has been a champion of the Trump populist base with his advocacy for medical freedom, among other things. With his Trump endorsement Johnson won 84 percent of the vote.

If Barnes, 35, wins in November, he would be the youngest in the US Senate. An activist after college, he was endorsed by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, reinforcing his progressive bona fides. On his Wednesday "Inside the Numbers" show, Rich Baris commented that Democrats in states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are often more likely to win when they endorse progressive candidates.


The biggest surprise in the Minnesota primary was Ilhan Omar's narrow victory over centrist Democrat Minneapolis City Councilman Don Samuels in MN House District 5. She won with fewer than 2500 votes or 2.1 percentage points. Samuels has been a staunch proponent of the police, helping to defeat an amendment that would have "replaced the Minneapolis police department with a new public safety unit. He was also part of a successful effort to sue Minnesota's largest city to ensure it met minimum police staffing levels in compliance with its charter." Ilhan has, on the other hand, been a strong proponent of defunding the police. Omar will face Cicely Davis, who won nearly 48 percent of the vote with former NBA basketball player Royce White 10 points behind. Davis was heavily endorsed by the Minnesota Republican Delegates.

Brad Finstad won his special election against Democrat candidate Jeffrey Ettinger to hold the GOP seat in Minnesota's 1st congressional district. The seat has been vacant since February due to the death of Rep. Jim Hagedorn. They were both on the regular ballot hoping to be nominated by their respective parties in a newly redrawn district. Finstad served in the Trump administration in the USDA and is a former state lawmaker. Ettinger is a former executive with Hormel Foods. Both are expected to win handily.

Duluth native and former professional hockey player Pete Stauber is a household name. Minnesotans as a whole are among the most active voters and typically stick with candidates they feel they know personally. Stauber's opponent Harry Welty really never stood a chance. Stauber won over 90 percent of the vote from the 8th District.


Leora Levy was the Trump-endorsed candidate for Senator. Trump believes she will beat Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Levy beat former state rep. Themis Karides. Jayme Stevenson was the GOP pick and will face longtime District 4 US Rep. Jim Himes this November. It will be an uphill battle. "Himes has held the seat covering most of Fairfield and some of New Haven counties since 2009. He's popular in the district and, so far, a heavy favorite to win re-election."


Republicans in Vermont gave Gerald Malloy the win on Tuesday. "The three-way contest pitted Malloy, a right-leaning political newcomer, against Nolan, a GOP centrist endorsed by Gov. Phil Scott." His victory is considered an upset. Malloy served 22 years in the Army and is a West Point graduate. He is pro-life, anti-mandate, and wants to make our borders more secure. He will face Democratic candidate Peter Welch who is heavily favored, winning his Democratic Senate race with almost 85 percent of the votes. They are both running for Patrick Leahy's seat. Welch has served as the US representative for Vermont's at-large congressional district since 2007. Malloy believes that "America needs fixing." He hopes to boot out the "out-of-touch, federal elites" in DC.

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