August 2 primaries loom as Trump's biggest test of 2022 — Here's a preview of what's at stake
Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers speaking at a rally. (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

The most consequential night of the 2022 primary season looms Tuesday, highlighted by races that should provide the clearest reading to date of former president Donald Trump’s grip on the Republican Party.

The August 2 lineup features primary contests in five states, representing the largest number of nationally watched battles on any single day of the 2022 primary calendar. Among the key tests will be the fate of three Republican House members who voted to impeach Trump in 2021 – all of whom face primary challenges as a result.

There are wild GOP primaries raging for statewide races in Michigan, Arizona and Missouri. Trump squares off with former Vice President Mike Pence in an Arizona endorsement battle. Pence endorsed Karrin Taylor Robson, while Trump endorsed Kari Lake in the race for governor on the Republican side.

READ: Busted: Matt Gaetz caught on tape promising Roger Stone a pardon from 'the boss' before trial

Looming in Kansas is the highest-profile anti-abortion ballot measure in the nation since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision striking down the right to abortion. Kansas voters will decide on a constitutional amendment stating that nothing in the Kansas Constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortion. It would also say that the legislature has the authority to pass laws regarding abortion, Ballotpedia news reports.

Here's a breakdown of the five state primaries:

Michigan: Rep. Peter Meijer, who voted to impeach Trump, faces former Trump administration official John Gibbs, who is endorsed by his former boss. In a controversial move, Democrats have spent $450,000 to support Gibbs in the belief he would be more beatable than Meijer in November. In a recent interview with CNN, Meijer continue to hammer Trump for “a shameful dereliction of duty” during the January 6 insurrection and – asked if he regretted his impeachment vote – responded, “not for a second.”

Gibbs, a full-fledged defender of the Big Lie, rationalized the absence of evidence to support Trump’s claims of fraud: “Gibbs compared Biden's victory to a criminal scheme cooked up by the mafia. "I think one analogy that you could look at here is the mafia," Gibbs told CNN. "For many years, you could never arrest them. You knew they were throwing guys off roofs and stuff but all you could get them for was tax evasion and money laundering because you don't quite have the legal and investigative framework in place to catch them."

Meanwhile, in a circus-like race for governor, Trump endorsed conservative commentator Tudor Dixon despite strong opposition to her over her support from Trump Education Secretary Betsy Devos. And In the state legislature, no fewer than 32 of the 44 Republican incumbents in the state legislature face primary challenges, many with Trump’s influence on the line.

Arizona: Recent polling of Republicans for the races for governor and U.S. senator show Trump-endorsed candidates leading. Along with his support of Lake against Robson, Trump is backing Blake Masters – a wealthy protégé of billionaire Peter Thiel -- over Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and businessman Jim Lamon.

Trump has been especially critical of Brnovich for failing to prosecute people for voter fraud as if his Big Lie were truthful.

The primary winner will face Sen. Mark Kelly. Meanwhile, two of the nation’s highest-profile right-wing promoters of bigotry are on the Arizona ballot: Mark Finchem for secretary of state and state Sen. Wendy Rogers, who is seeking re-election. Both “are trumpeting an endorsement from Andrew Torba, the CEO of far-right social media platform Gab, who said earlier this month that Jewish people aren’t welcome on Gab and should be exiled from the conservative movement altogether,” the Sentinel in Tucson reported Friday.

Rogers also can boast of her nearly unanimous censure by the Republican-controlled Senate in March for, among other things, attacking Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish, as a “globalist puppet for George Soros.”

The Arizona primaries are so filled with the strangeness that the longshot presence in a congressional race of Ron Watkins – believed by some to be the original Q – has gone largely noticed. At least three other QAnon candidates are seeking offices in Arizona, including former NFL player Jerone Davison, who “is certain that federal law enforcement is responsible for children being murdered in mass school shootings,” the AZ Mirror reports.

Missouri: The ballot features the most-followed U.S. Senate primary in the nation, a circuslike Republican battle to fill the seat of retiring three-term Sen. Roy Blunt. The main event has been an effort from the state’s Republican establishment to derail the candidacy of former Gov. Eric Greitens, a Trump devotee who resigned in disgrace just over a year into his term of office amid a salacious sex scandal involving a mistress in his basement, as well as charges of campaign-finance violations.

Since leaving office, Greitens has also faced allegations in court from his ex-wife claiming that he abused her and one of their children – now the subject of a campaign ad bombardment. Greitens has fallen to third place in the polls, and it’s widely believed he’d need a late Trump endorsement to save him. Trump has hinted he’d make an endorsement but hasn’t so far.

Recent polls show a growing lead for Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who has abandoned his previous persona as a moderate state senator to run one of the most MAGA-shrieking campaigns in the nation. Schmitt’s office authored the amicus brief in the famous and failed Texas Big Lie lawsuit against Pennsylvania after the 2020 election. He sued dozens of public-school districts in the state to stop them from requiring masks during the COVID pandemic. Schmitt unveiled an ad in which he was sporting a blowtorch “to put the heat on Biden Democrats” to counter a Greitens ad featuring the twisted ex-governor going “RINO hunting” with an assault rifle. That sums up the race.

Washington: Two more of the 10 GOP House members to vote to impeach Trump face tough primary challenges from Trump-endorsed opponents. Both Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse are paying for their votes in jungle-primary competition – in which the two top vote-getters of any party advance to the general election.

Herrera Beutler’s Republican foe is Joe Kent, a former Green Beret. Trump held a telephone-based “rally” this week for Kent, as reported by The Reflector, a Washington newspaper. Kent called Trump “a personal inspiration” and introduced Trump as the 45th president of the United States, noting he is also “the 46th, and probably the 47th. Trump labeled Herrera Beutler “a false Republican” who fights for the Washington swamp, not for the Washington state.

Newhouse also faces a Trump-endorsed challenger in former police chief Loren Culp. Culp proclaimed at a campaign event this week, “It’s time to send Newhouse to the outhouse,” the report said. And there was this revisionist history about the January 6 insurrection: “Culp claimed Trump merely told his supporters, “Go let your voices be heard peacefully and patriotically. That is not a high crime or misdemeanor. But Joe Biden is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. ‘If he gets to the House, Culp said, he would work with other Republicans to immediately impeach both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for several reasons, including high gas prices and their immigration policy.”

Kansas: By far the dominant question for August 2 is whether Kansas voters will pass a constitutional amendment that would allow its Republican-controlled legislature to outlaw abortion in the state. The amendment came about in response to a 2019 ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court that found the state constitution “includes a right to bodily autonomy. That includes abortion, the justices said. As a result, the Kansas Legislature is barred from passing laws that restrict access to abortion.

Any abortion restrictions must clear an extremely high level of ‘strict scrutiny’ from the court to become law, and most restrictions on abortion, including a total ban, would be considered unconstitutional in Kansas,”, the Kansas City Star reported in a FAQ page on the amendment. Here’s how Vox summarized what’s at stake: “If the amendment passes, nothing could stop Republican lawmakers from passing a total or near-total abortion ban, and political experts say the likelihood of such restrictions moving forward in that context is very high.

Richard Levy, a constitutional law professor at the University of Kansas, told Vox that even though the amendment is not itself a ban on abortion, it’s safe to assume Kansas lawmakers would adopt highly restrictive abortion laws if the amendment passes. He pointed to the supermajority of Republicans in the House and Senate, the Kansas legislature’s long history of adopting laws intended to limit abortion, and to the fact that the amendment’s supporters have indicated that’s their goal.”

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