Tuesday’s primaries featured several Trump-backed candidates — almost all of whom won — as well as a closer-than-expected race in the Democratic primary involving Squad member Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).
In 2020, Omar won her Democratic primary by 35,000 votes. But since then, she has been perhaps the most visible spokesperson for the Defund the Police movement — and it almost cost her.
Omar drew a primary challenge from fellow Democrat Don Samuels, a former Minneapolis City Council member, who ran heavily on putting more money towards police to combat rising crime.
Samuels, who grabbed a late election endorsement from Mayor Jacob Frey, also focused heavily on his role in defeating a Minneapolis ballot initiative that tried to replacing the police department with a new public safety agency.
It was a nail-biter for most of Tuesday evening with Omar winning by roughly 2,500 votes. That was much closer than her 2020 re-election primary, which she won by a little more than 35,000.
Another prominent Defund the Police activist easily won his primary race to run against Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson. Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes is running against the most vulnerable Republican in the country, but his radical connections make him a sitting duck for his Republican opponent.
Barnes has pledged to fight “dark money” in politics but has received several donations from some of the richest, darkest, most radical dark money groups in the country.
The Family Friendly Action PAC, a group run by Democratic political operatives that announced a $23 million election canvassing operation last week, endorsed Barnes, the presumptive Democratic nominee, on Monday and said it plans to spend at least $5 million to support his race against Republican incumbent senator Ron Johnson. The super PAC is primarily funded by the dark-money organizations Sixteen Thirty Fund and America Votes.
The funding is at odds with Barnes’s professed opposition to undisclosed political spending. The candidate has promised to “stand up to the corrupting influence of dark money” and highlighted the issue as a key plank of his campaign.
The Sixteen Thirty Fund — another dark money group backing Barnes — is one of the largest liberal dark-money organizations and poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the 2020 election. It remains to be seen if Johnson can take advantage of the opening offered by his opponent.
Also in Wisconsin, Trump-endorsed businessman Tim Michels beat the early favorite, former lieutenant governor Rebecca Kleefisch, to face Democrat Gov. Tony Evers in November. But the target of Trump’s wrath in Wisconsin, House Speaker Robin Vos, won his primary easily. Trump was miffed that Vos failed to do his bidding and magically make the Wisconsin 2020 presidential results disappear.
In Connecticut, Trump-backed Leora Levy will be facing incumbent Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal in November in a seat that hasn’t sent a Republican to the Senate in more than 30 years. Levy defeated the Republican establishment’s favored pick, former state minority leader Themis Klarides.
Trump is not a fan favorite in Connecticut, and Blumenthal is well-financed and has a formidable organization in the state. Leora Levy has an uphill battle on her hands to flip that seat red.