DC and Virginia held primaries Tuesday, and other high-profile primaries were contested by the US WTOP political team.
Welcome back to WTOP’s Weekly Election Update! The WTOP team of reporters will keep you updated through November at the latest as the primaries and election races increase in the district, Maryland, Virginia and nationwide. This week’s edition covers Tuesday’s Virginia and DC primaries, with the help of WTOP’s Luke Lukert and Mike Murillo.
Virginia and Maryland | Nick Iannelli
Virginia primaries organize big league races
There were a handful of Virginia primary US House races in the past week, but political eyes were on just two congressional districts in the state nationally.
These were the 2nd and 7th districts, with vulnerable Democratic incumbents eager to include Republicans, hoping to grab a few seats in November.
“Both districts can be won by either side,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington.
In the 2nd district, which covers the Virginia Beach area, state senator Jen Kiggans won a Republican primary by defeating three opponents and will face Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria in November’s general election.
“Kiggans Republican selection creates a very, very competitive and challenging environment for Congressman Luria,” said Farnsworth.
In the 7th District, which includes parts of Prince William, Stafford, Spotsylvania and Culpeper counties, Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega defeated five opponents to win a Republican primary.
Vega will face Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger.
“Both districts will be very prominent among national donors and the national party organizations of both parties,” Farnsworth said.
Significant Shows of Support in Maryland Governor’s Race
Bestselling author Wes Moore, a Democratic candidate in the crowded run for Maryland governor, received a number of significant messages of support ahead of the July 19 primary.
State Senate President Bill Ferguson and U.S. Representative Kweisi Mfume supported Moore.
Ferguson and Mfume are both influential leaders in the Baltimore area, coming “from a battlefield that has been pivotal in launching candidates for victory in November,” according to The Washington Post.
The race is a game for all as polls have shown that there are a large number of undecided voters in the state.
Wrong ballots going out in Prince George’s County
About 10,000 voters in Prince George’s County received sample ballots for the July primaries with incorrect candidate information for their counties.
While sample ballots are not used for voting, they contain important information about voting locations and a list of candidates that will appear on people’s ballots when they vote.
Voters who received the wrong sample ballots have not been contacted by the county council, but the corrected ballots are due to be distributed by the end of next week.
Those with questions can call the election board at 301-341-7300.
The DC primary | Mike Murillo and Luke Lukert
With crime rates soaring in DC, Tuesday’s primary was expected to be, in part, a referendum on what district Democrats think about Mayor Muriel Bowser’s move to address the issue so far. In the end, Bowser carried the four-candidate primary, with a 12% lead over At-Large Council member Robert White, who was seen as more progressive. Bowser, if elected in November, would become the first mayor since Marion Berry to serve three terms.
The race for DC’s attorney general drew a lot of attention, largely as a result of what happened weeks before the election. Kenyan McDuffie, a ward 5 Council member, was ineligible for the post after being challenged by candidate Bruce Spiva. That challenge left a cloud over the race as Spiva, Brian Schwalb and Ryan Jones continued to campaign for the Democrats’ blessings. In the end Schwalb, who was backed by outgoing AG Karl Racine, claimed the victory.
Overall, it was a good night for the incumbents: Council Speaker Phil Mendelson, At-Large Council member Anita Bonds, Ward 1 Council member Brianne Nadeau and longtime Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton got the wink from the Democrats.
Two of Tuesday’s council primaries had no sitting candidates, and both went to candidates deemed more progressive by Democrats: In Ward 3, Matthew Frumin was elected to succeed Councilman Mary Cheh; in Ward 5 defeated DC State Board of Education Rep. Zachary Parker, among others, former councilor Vincent Orange to succeed McDuffie, who gave up the seat to run for attorney general.
Ward 6 Councilor Charles Allen ran unopposed in the primaries.
While several Republicans and independents plan to run for open positions such as mayor, Democratic primaries historically serve as a crystal ball for who will ultimately succeed in the general election.
— Mike Murillo
At the Bowser celebration
The celebration at Mayor Muriel Bowser’s campaign party on Tuesday did not culminate until hours after her anticipated victory was achieved. There was light cheering as the first results came in around 8.30pm; five minutes later, Bowser was expected to receive her third Democratic nomination. A staffer came up to me a short time later and asked if there were any results – I had to tell him Bowser was already expected to win.
Two hours later, the mayor took the stage in Franklin Hall with supporters behind her and DC Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton by her side.
“Today I’m following in the footsteps of Marion Barry,” Bowser exclaimed to the screaming crowd.
During her 15-minute speech, she thanked staff and supporters, reminding the crowd of many of her campaign promises, including police support for safer streets, tackling homelessness across the city — and, of course, the state.
“We have chosen a future where we claim to be the 51st state,” Bowser said.
— Luke Lukert
Video of the week
Mayor Bowser receives a congratulatory call from Vice President Kamala Harris. (WTOP/Kristi King)
From Capitol Hill | Mitchell Miller
Trump’s recommendations lose some luster
Former President Donald Trump may say he supported Katie Britt, who won the second round of the US Senate GOP in Alabama, but he was a latecomer to her campaign. Trump initially enthusiastically had Rep. Mo Brooks in the race endorsed.
Following reports that Brooks’ campaign has struggled, and after Brooks indicated he was ready to move forward with unfounded allegations of voter fraud in 2020, Trump withdrew his endorsement and said he supported Britt.
But Britt had the support of at least 10 Republican senators in the US, including her former boss, Senator Richard Shelby. Britt was a former Shelby chief of staff and had a lot of political and financial support, without Trump’s backing.
She defeated Brooks by more than 25 percentage points and will be the favorite in the fall against Democrat Will Boyd.
In Georgia, two Trump-backed GOP congressional candidates lost their primary.
Rich McCormick defeated Trump-backed candidate Jake Evans by more than 30 percentage points. And Mike Collins crushed Vernon Jones — another Trump-backed candidate — and got nearly three times as many votes.
The Trump Effect Down Vote
While former President Trump has had mixed results with his approvals in US Senate and House races, he continues to have an impact on Secretary of State races.
Consider the winner of the Alabama GOP race for that key position overseeing the election: State Representative Wes Allen, who was backed by Trump’s friend Mike Lindell, the election denier and founder of MyPillow, won a Republican runoff.
Allen has questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election as a member of the America First Secretary of State Coalition.
Allen defeated outgoing state auditor Jim Zeigler, who also advocates stricter voting guidelines but doesn’t go as far as Allen.
Among Allen’s views: Opposition to early voting and voting without apology.
While Trump’s approvals receive most of the attention in congressional races, his biggest impact may be on how many state Republicans continue to push for more voting restrictions, ignoring the more than 60 court rulings that showed no widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
The Washington Post found that more than 100 Republican nominees across the country have bought into Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.
False voters and January 6
Among the revelations from one of this week’s Jan. 6 committee hearings are texts indicating that U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis., sought the hand-delivery of fake voter certificates to former Vice President Mike Pence.
The lyrics included an exchange between Johnson’s chief of staff and Pence’s legislative director, suggesting an “alternative slate of voters” for Wisconsin and Michigan.
While not valid, they would have been used to attempt to overturn the will of voters in the two states, which Joe Biden won.
Pence’s staff, Chris Hodgson, texted back, “Don’t give him that.”
Johnson has tried to downplay the extraordinary finding by telling a CNN reporter that he was “not involved in this case at all.”
But co-Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, a Democrat, says Johnson bought “Trump’s conspiracy” over the 2020 election and sought to overthrow the will of voters in their state.
All four Democratic Senate candidates running against Johnson have asked for his resignation.
“He literally tried to hand Mike Pence counterfeit ballots,” Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes said in a statement. “Once again Ron Johnson has proven that he is a danger to our country and our fundamental rights.”
Worth your time
From Nick Iannelli
From Mitchell Miller
Dates to know
- June 28: Deadline to register to vote in Maryland.
- July 19: Youth Work Day in Maryland.