U.S. congressional primaries in five states feature polar political opposites
(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach greets supporters at his election night party in Topeka
By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Representative Roger Marshall won the Kansas Republican primary for the Senate on Tuesday, the New York Times said, defeating arch-conservative Kris Kobach with the help of the party establishment, which feared Kobach would hurt Republican chances in the fall.
The race was among a number of Congressional primary contests in five U.S. states on Tuesday. In Michigan, prominent progressive Representative Rashida Tlaib said she was confident she would hold off a challenge from local Black leader, Brenda Jones, but results were just starting to trickle in.
The outcomes in Kansas, Michigan, Arizona, Missouri and Washington will establish the nominees for the Nov. 3 elections to the House of Representatives and Senate that will determine the balance of power in Congress.
Marshall, 59, was supported by establishment Republicans who feared a polarizing figure like Kobach could lose the traditionally Republican seat to Democrats, who could gain control of the Senate.
A doctor who has represented western Kansas in the House of Representatives since 2017, Marshall emerged first in a crowded field. With 2,077 of 3,577 precincts reporting, he had 38% of the vote, with Kobach at 27%, results from the Kansas secretary of state said. A third candidate, Bob Hamilton, had 20%.
Republicans currently have a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and non-partisan analysts see the competition for Senate control as either a toss-up or slightly favoring Democrats.
Kobach is an anti-immigration firebrand who advised President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign on immigration. He later served as vice chairman of Trump’s short-lived voter fraud commission.
The Senate Leadership Fund (SLF), a political action committee aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, welcomed the results, saying it spent $2.1 million in the primary to boost Marshall.
“SLF has been adamant from the day Kobach got in the race that he would endanger Republican control of the Senate majority,” the statement said.
Marshall will run in November against the Democratic nominee, state Senator Barbara Bollier, who won her primary easily earlier in the evening. She is a former Republican who is breaking fundraising records.
The Kobach and Tlaib races are testing whether each party will steer to the right or left, or stay closer to the political center.
In Michigan, Tlaib thanked her supporters on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), although fewer than 1% of the results were in. “I want to thank you, because it’s not just my name on the ballot. It’s Medicare for all. It’s the Green New Deal. It’s to push back against structural racism,” she said.
Tlaib, 44, is a member of the “Squad” – four female freshmen who have become the face of the House of Representatives’ liberal wing.
She is in a rematch against Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones. Jones, 60, lost to Tlaib by fewer than 1,000 votes two years ago. The district includes parts of Detroit, a predominantly Black city.
In Arizona, voters in the Republican Senate primary picked Senator Martha McSally over challenger Daniel McCarthy, the New York Times said, in what is expected to be one of the most expensive Senate battles of the year.
McSally trails astronaut Mark Kelly, who won the Democratic nomination uncontested, in the polls and has about half of his $21 million campaign war chest.
Missouri features another House primary rematch. Democratic Representative William Lacy Clay faces progressive challenger Cori Bush, who became a community activist after Black man Michael Brown was fatally shot by police in 2014. With about half the results in, the race was close, but the congressman was leading. Both candidates are Black. Clay or his father have represented the district since 1969.
U.S. Representative Marshall beats Kobach in Kansas Republican primary for Senate