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Michigan & Missouri Primary Preview

The July primary respite is drawing to a close. Five states will nominate their general election candidates on Tuesday, and several important races will be decided.

Michigan

With no US Senate race on the ballot, the Michigan Governor’s campaign leads the Wolverine State ticket and the Republican primary will draw the attention as voters will choose a candidate to challenge Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in the November election.

The Republicans ran into trouble when their early polling leader, retired Detroit Police Chief James Craig, and two others were disqualified because they failed to submit the required number of valid nominating petition signatures. Without Craig, several candidates thought to be in the early second tier rose to the forefront, and now we see what appears to be a three-way race among online radio talk show host Tudor Dixon, who now is considered the favorite to win Tuesday night, and businessmen Ryan Kelley and Kevin Rinke.

Despite endorsements from the Susan B. Anthony Fund and Michigan Right-to-Life, the American Conservative Union, Associated Builders & Contractors of Michigan, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Ms. Dixon is under attack from her opponents for not being conservative enough. Ryan Kelley is a real estate business owner who was involved in the January 6th protests, and Kevin Rinke is a self-funding business owner. 

Tuesday’s winner will begin the general election as an underdog, but the race could again become competitive once the contest solidifies post-primary.

There is a great deal of action at the congressional level, including a Democratic incumbent pairing that will be decided.

Tuesday’s key races begin in the Grand Rapids’ anchored 3rd District, where freshman Rep. Peter Meijer* (R-Grand Rapids) will face Trump-backed former Housing & Urban Development official John Gibbs in a significantly changed district. The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission flipped this district from being reliably Republican to one that now leans toward the Democrats.

Mr. Meijer is being attacked from the right because of his vote to impeach former President Donald Trump, but he also faces a difficult general election against 2020 Democratic nominee Hillary Scholten. Rep. Meijer won the 2020 campaign with a 53-47% win in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rated R+9, but now would face her in the new 3rd, assuming he is re-nominated on Tuesday, that favors the Democrats by three percentage points.

Originally, it looked like Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) was heavily endangered as his current 2nd District became the collapsed district as Michigan lost a congressional seat in national reapportionment. Paired with Rep. Fred Upton* (R-St. Joseph), this primary battle was expected to be one of the most heavily watched campaigns in the country.

More of the new 4th CD’s territory came from Mr. Upton’s current 6th District. When the 18-term veteran decided to retire, however, Rep. Huizenga found himself not only unopposed for re-nomination, but possibly in the general election, too, unless the Democrats qualify a write-in candidate.

The new 7th District is not contested in either party on Tuesday, but the general election contest between Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) and state Sen. Tom Barrett* (R-Lansing) promises to be hard fought and close.

Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flushing/Flint) also looks to face a competitive general election. Three Republicans are battling for the nomination, and former television anchorman and 2020 congressional nominee in the current 8th District (opposite Rep. Slotkin) Paul Junge looks to be the clear favorite to claim the nomination on Tuesday.

In the created open 10th District seat, former US Senate nominee John James* appears as a cinch to win the Republican nomination. Therefore, Tuesday’s action will be on the Democratic side. Party leaders helped recruit former Macomb County prosecutor and judge Carl Marlinga into the race, but he has not performed particularly strongly as a candidate and lags in fundraising. Therefore, the party nomination is in doubt. The 10th is cast as a toss-up seat, but it appears Mr. James, who came close to winning the Senate seat in 2020, is the favorite to win in November.

The big race of the night features Reps. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills) and Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Township) squaring off for what will now become a safely Democratic 11th District. Early polling found the race to be a dead heat, but a Target Insyght Democratic primary poll that concluded on July 20th posted Rep. Stevens to a large 58-31% advantage. She also has commanded the stronger fundraising operation.

The district is a combination of her current 11th CD and Rep. Levin’s 9th District. More of Ms. Stevens constituency is in the new seat, but she loses her home base of Rochester Hills. Less of the constituency is common for Rep. Levin in the new 11th, but his home base of Bloomfield Township, which also launched the political careers of Mr. Levin’s father, ex-Rep. Sander Levin (D), and his late uncle, Sen. Carl Levin (D), remains intact and a key anchor of the new district.

Controversial Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) is seeking re-election in the new 12th District and has Democratic opposition. The large number of opponents, however, will likely allow her to win re-nomination with at least a strong plurality vote.

The open 13th CD, created largely through Rep. Brenda Lawrence’s (D-Southfield) retirement, has drawn a crowded field of nine Democrats competing for the safest of Democratic districts. State Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-Detroit) led in the latest district primary poll, but his margin is very tight opposite state Civil Rights Commissioner Portia Robinson, state Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit), who is getting strong support from outside organizations, and John Conyers, III, son of the late veteran Detroit US Congressman of the same name.

Attacks are coming against Rep. Thanedar that he is a Republican in disguise, so it remains to be seen if he can hold his tenuous lead when the vote counting process begins on Tuesday night.

Missouri

The major race on the Show Me State ballot is the open US Senate contest, as three key candidates are vying to succeed retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R) for the party nomination. Resigned scandal-tainted Gov. Eric Greitens was leading the race for a long while, which caused consternation among Republican leaders because of the belief that he could lose the general election in what should be a reliable seat for the party. 

Now the contest appears to be a battle between Attorney General Eric Schmitt and US Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville), while the Democrats see a fight between Trudy Busch Valentine, a member of the Anheuser Busch beer family, and Iraq War veteran Lucas Kunce, who is running heavy attack ads against her.

Turning to the House races and on the Democratic side, freshman Rep. Cori Bush (D-St. Louis) faces a credible opponent in state Sen. Steve Roberts (D-St. Louis). This primary contest will decide who represents the 1st District constituency in the next Congress. The lone published poll found Rep. Bush carrying a 20-point lead, but at only 40% support. This suggests Sen. Roberts could be in position to score an upset in the closing days of the race.

Two open congressional races will be virtually decided on Tuesday, Ms. Hartzler’s open 4th District, and Rep. Billy Long’s open 7th CD. Mr. Long is also a Republican Senate candidate, but his campaign never rose to the top tier. When his hopes of a Trump endorsement ended in disappointment, Rep. Long’s chances to win the statewide primary became severely diminished.

Seven Republicans are battling for the nomination in safely Republican District 4, the seat that covers much of the south/central part of the state. Four of the candidates, state Sen. Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville), former newscaster Mark Alford, state Labor Department official Taylor Burks, and rancher Kalena Bruce, are in competition for the win.

A similar situation lies in the Springfield anchored 7th CD that occupies the state’s southwest corner. Here two state Senators, a former state Senator, and a retired Army Colonel are vying for the Republican nomination. Whoever forges to the top on Tuesday night with the strongest plurality vote will advance to the general election and becomes a lock to claim the seat in November.


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