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The Trailer: Your hour-by-hour guide on what to watch tonight

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In this edition: How to watch today’s primaries, why New York Democrats are tearing each other apart, and the closing campaign spots in key races.

If you have one newsletter and three slurp juices, you can create three newsletters. This is the Trailer.

We at The Trailer try to deliver you election results and analysis as quickly as possible, and it can be frustrating when states don’t play along. Who won the Democratic primary in Oregon’s 5th Congressional District? Who’ll be the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania? Those questions have answers, but they’re somewhere on smudged Clackamas County ballot paper or coming to a keystone state courtroom.

There may be some close races tonight, but the one capturing most media attention — Donald Trump’s crusade to replace Georgia’s GOP leaders — probably won’t be one of them. We’ll get yet another test of the ex-president’s ability to move votes, multiple battles between Democratic leftists and centrists, and a GOP gut-check on the Bush political dynasty. Here’s what to watch, and when.

7 p.m. Election night begins when polls start to close in Georgia, and you can expect the fate of Gov. Brian Kemp (R) to be determined fairly quickly. One reason: Public polls, which have found Kemp gaining ground over ex-Sen. David Perdue all year. Another reason: Money, and Perdue’s surprising lack of it, which let Kemp crowd the challenger out on TV. Perdue is campaigning like a candidate who knows it’s over: At his final campaign stop on Monday, the former senator chastised NBC News reporter Marc Caputo over a report that Trump had written him off. 

“Have you apologized for that yet, bud?” Perdue asked Caputo, who pointed out that the story was accurate. Trump, who last rallied in the state in March, closed out Perdue’s campaign by dialing in to a tele-rally. 

To avoid being pushed into a June runoff, Georgia candidates need to clear 50 percent of the vote today. Anything less than that, for Kemp, would give Perdue another shot at him, without lower-polling anti-Kemp candidates like Kandiss Taylor splitting the vote. But Republicans see an outright win for Kemp as the likeliest outcome, as well as a clear win for ex-football star Herschel Walker in the U.S. Senate primary. None of Walker’s rivals, who include state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, have dented his lead despite spending money on negative ads against him, and appearing at debates that Walker skipped.

Democrats Stacey Abrams and Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (Ga.) have no challengers. The party’s biggest contest in Georgia is happening in the Atlanta suburbs, where Rep. Lucy McBath has left her seat, now gerrymandered in Republicans’ favor, to challenge her neighbor, Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, in the 7th Congressional District. McBath has slightly outraised her colleague, and this race will gauge the impact of Bourdeaux’s decision to join the “unbreakable nine” Democrats who demanded a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure package decoupled from the party’s social spending agenda. 

(One of them, ex-Rep. Filemon Vela, has already resigned to become a lobbyist; another, Oregon’s Kurt Schrader, appears headed to defeat in his primary, after a botched ballot count.) 

There are crowded GOP races in the 6th Congressional District, the one redrawn by Republicans to push out McBath, and in the reliably Republican 10th Congressional District, which Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) is leaving to run for Secretary of State. Ex-Rep. Paul Broun is trying to mount a comeback, eight years after giving up the seat; Mike Collins, the son of a former congressman who lost a race for this same seat that year, spent early to introduce himself as an “outsider.” Among the other challengers: Vernon Jones, a former Democrat who left the party to support Donald Trump, and abandoned his run for governor after Trump endorsed Perdue.

Hice has run a nearly invisible campaign for Secretary of State, despite Trump’s endorsement, but incumbent Brad Raffensperger has polled far below the 50 percent he needs to win without a runoff. (With Trump campaigning against him, Raffensperger could lose a one-on-one runoff to any Republican who blames him for not overturning the 2020 election.) Attorney Gen. Chris Carr is seeking reelection against just one challenger, John Gordon, an attorney Trump endorsed because — you guessed it — Carr did not find some way to reverse Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the state.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has several primary challengers in her redrawn 14th Congressional District, with health-care executive Jennifer Strahan outraising everyone but the congresswoman. But the race hasn’t attracted the decisive kinds of spending and endorsements that sunk Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) last week.

8 p.m. Polls close in Alabama and begin to close in Texas, where a few statewide runoffs could come down to votes in the three counties that observe Central time. 

Alabama is also a runoff state, and the GOP races for governor and U.S. Senate are defined by that 50 percent threshold. Gov. Kay Ivey (R) wants to blow past it and avoid her gubernatorial primary dragging into summer; Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), who earned and then lost Donald Trump’s endorsement in the Senate race, has a shot at redemption if he makes the runoff. Trump never endorsed an alternative to Brooks, who benefited from an ad war between self-funding veteran Mike Durant and Katie Britt, who served as chief of staff to retiring Sen. Richard C. Shelby, 

“Katie Britt and Mike Durant have been very viciously attacking each other recently,” Brooks told The Washington Post’s Isaac Arnsdorf. “That has hurt their standing and helped my standing.”

The GOP’s race for governor hasn’t been as nasty, but it’s been expensive, with Gov. Kay Ivey running on her record of delivering for social conservatives and rejecting lengthy coronavirus restrictions — and saying that “if Joe Biden keeps shipping illegal immigrants into our states, we’re all going to have to learn the Spanish.” Her biggest challenge in getting to 50 percent has been a battery of primary ads, including many from Tim James, the son of a former governor, who has promised to take action against pro-transgender and pro-gay organizations that Ivey has ignored.

Alabama also has a competitive GOP primary for secretary of state featuring candidates who promise not to expand ballot access in the wake of the 2020 election, and a wide-open race to fill Brooks’s seat. 

Democrats have far more competition happening in Texas. In the 28th Congressional District, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.) will face attorney Jessica Cisneros for the third time, after dispatching her in a close 2020 primary and getting forced into today’s runoff after FBI raids of his home and campaign headquarters. Republicans Cassy Garcia and Sandra Whitten will meet in a GOP runoff, and the national party is looking hard at the race if Garcia, a former staffer for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), wins and faces either a weakened Cuellar or an untested Cisneros.

In the 15th Congressional District, a Republican-trending part of the Rio Grande Valley that connects McAllen to San Antonio, Democrats Ruben Ramirez and Michelle Vallejo are running on completely different theories of what it would take to hold the seat. Ramirez, who’s more conservative on social issues, picked up the support of incumbent Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who’s relocating to a safer seat; Vallejo has run to the left, touting support from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, liberal labor unions, and some more liberal members of the state’s House delegation.

Democrats also have runoffs for lieutenant governor and attorney general that offer the same sort of ideological choice. Near miss 2018 nominee Mike Collier is facing state Rep. Michelle Beckley in the lieutenant governor race, while ex-ACLU lawyer Rochelle Garza will compete with ex-Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski. The winner will face whoever prevails in the state’s biggest GOP runoff — incumbent Ken Paxton or land commissioner George P. Bush. The challenger told the Trailer in March that a lengthy runoff would give him time to convince Republicans — in Texas and maybe at Mar-a-Lago — that Paxton’s scandals made him too risky to keep on the November ballot. But Trump stuck with Paxton, whose campaign portrayed Bush as a Republican-in-name-only.

8:30 p.m. There are just a few competitive primaries in Arkansas, where GOP gubernatorial candidate Sarah Sanders pushed her rivals out of the way long before voting began. She faces a nominal challenge from Francis “Doc” Washburn, a former radio host who lost his show after refusing to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, but state attorney general Leslie Rutledge cleared her path to the nomination last November by switching to run for lieutenant governor. Five other Republicans are running against Rutledge; like Georgia and Texas, if no candidate clears 50 percent in a race, the top two finishers head to a runoff. 

Three Republicans are challenging Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), who’s seeking a third full term in November. But veteran and ex-New England Patriot Jake Bequette is the only contender Boozman has spent money to beat, hustling to prevent an upset from a young, square-jawed challenger who benefited from six-figure PAC ad buys funded by GOP donor Richard Uihlein. A Hendrix College poll released at the start of May found Boozman close to the 50 percent mark, but not yet crossing it.

Democrats, who haven’t won a statewide race in Arkansas since 2010, will also pick nominees for governor and U.S. Senate; a step up from 2020, when their nominee for U.S. Senate quit the race days after the filing deadline.

9 p.m. The votes will start getting tallied in west Texas, and in Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District, where Democrats and Republicans are picking their candidates for their Aug. 9 special election. No runoffs here: Whoever gets the most votes in the 11-way GOP primary or the six-way Democratic primary heads to the big show, in a Republican-trending district that narrowly voted twice for the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn.

The GOP’s race has been messier, with ex-state GOP chair Jennifer Carnahan, Hagedorn’s widow, encountering resistance from Republican activists over the losses the party sustained when she led it, and her friendship with a donor who was indicted on sex trafficking charges. State Rep. Jeremy Munson offered himself as an electable, conservative alternative, and ran strong at nonbinding local party conventions, expanding on his political base outside of Mankato, and capitalizing on an endorsement from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). But outside groups like Defending Main Street PAC and Americans for Prosperity spent heavily in favor of Brad Finstad, a former Trump appointee. 

Democrats haven’t seen as much money slosh into their race, where ex-Hormel CEO Jeff Ettinger is the only candidate who’s raised more than $100,000. Richard Painter, a former White House ethics lawyer who became a Democrat during the Trump years and ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate, is trying a different path back to Washington. But local Democrats have endorsed Ettinger.

“Inside the Republican push to stop Trump’s ‘vendetta tour’ in Georgia,” by Annie Linskey, Josh Dawsey, Michael Scherer, and Matthew Brown

The last hours of the Perdue revenge campaign.

“House Dems shun primary fight against anti-abortion incumbent,” by Ally Mutnick and Sarah Ferris

Why James Clyburn and Nancy Pelosi are working to reelect Henry Cuellar.

“Voting is surging in Georgia despite controversial new election law,” by Amy Gardner and Matthew Brown

“Souls to the Polls” in the wake of “Stop the Steal.”

“How Gen X became the Trumpiest generation,” by Ben Jacobs

From the Rentals to Iowa Republican politics.

“House Democrats scramble after redistricting lessens competitive edge,” by Marianna Sotomayor and Colby Itkowitz

What the New York Supreme Court hath wrought.

“A GOP power grab shatters 30 years of political progress for Black voters in Galveston County,” by Alexa Ura

Your friendly neighborhood gerrymander.

“Texas runoff tests Democratic divisions over abortion, immigration,” by David Weigel

Cuellar v. Cisneros, round three.

“Pence, tiptoeing away from Trump, lays groundwork for ’24 run,” by Jonathan Martin

The ex-VP went down to Georgia.

Chaos has reigned in New York ever since the state’s top court tossed out a pro-Democratic gerrymander and handed design duties to a special master who doesn’t live in the state. And Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.)’s decision to run in the new 17th Congressional District, instead of the 18th Congressional District he’s won in since 2012, has led to even more Democratic infighting in even more races.

Start with the new 17th District. Maloney’s instant decision to run there convinced Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) to abandon the Westchester County district and run in the new 10th Congressional District, which covers southern Manhattan and part of Brooklyn. It did not, however, clear Maloney’s path to reelection in a safe seat. State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, who had been running in a new version of the 3rd Congressional District, announced on Tuesday that she’d run in the 17th — not where she lives, but close to it.

“What hurt the party was having the head of the campaign arm not stay in his district, not maximize the number of seats New York can have to hold the majority,” Biaggi explained to the New York Times.

Biaggi didn’t live in the new 3rd District either; she’d been running in the short-lived, gerrymandered version that connected Long Island to Westchester County. But quitting that race created an opportunity for Melanie D’Arrigo, a liberal candidate who had been running for the suburban seat in every version of the map, and whose plans were badly complicated when Biaggi jumped in.

No one is making way for Jones in Manhattan: ex-mayor Bill de Blasio and state legislator Yuh-Line Niou both formed campaign committees before the freshman congressman did. And nobody’s getting out of the 12th Congressional District, where both Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) are seeking reelection after their old seats were obliterated. Activist Rana Abdelhamid is staying in the race, and so is 2018/2020 Maloney challenger Suraj Patel. In a campaign memo sent to reporters on Monday, Patel’s campaign explained that he had already won — twice — enough votes in Manhattan and Brooklyn to win a crowded primary with no runoff.

“It’s clear we must fight not just against Republicans, but even Democratic incumbents who seek to exploit the system for their own reelection,” read the memo from Whitman Insight Strategies. “The very reason we are in this mess is because incumbent members of Congress thought they could get away with picking and choosing their voters.”

What’s the fate of Maloney’s old seat? It has a little to do with what’s happening in the 19th Congressional District, which ex-Rep. Antonio Delgado left today to become New York’s new lieutenant governor. Ulster County executive Pat Ryan, who lost a 2018 primary to Delgado, is now running in the special election for that seat. But in November, he’ll run in the new 18th District, which includes part of the old Delgado seat; Democrat Josh Riley is the only candidate from his party currently running in the next 19th District, which has been made more Republican.

Communities United for Bass for LA Mayor, “At Stake.” Los Angeles holds primary elections June 7, and any candidate who cracks 50 percent of the vote in a city race wins outright. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), who’s been establishing herself as the electable liberal candidate in the race for mayor, unloads on developer Rick Caruso over his record of Republican donations, citing a 2007 piece that called him the “Donald Trump of Los Angeles,” long before that comparison had any political connotation.

Rick Scott for Florida, “Our Policies.” The freshman Florida senator who runs the Senate GOP campaign arm also spends from his active campaign account — he’s not up for another term until 2024 — to run straight-to-camera digital ads. This one, which began running last week, repeats Scott’s line that Biden is “confused,” a remark that hints at the president’s age and caused a very brief controversy.

The Mo Brooks for Senate Committee, “One True Conservative.” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) was losing ground in his U.S. Senate race even before Trump unendorsed him. He’s fought back, with a serious shot at making the June runoff, by focusing on his record: He has one, and the bigger-spending GOP candidates don’t.

Britt for Alabama, “Your Word is Your Bond.” Katie Britt’s youth and charisma have been centered in all of her positive U.S. Senate ads, where she endorses the broad conservative agenda without a lot of details. “I’ll protect life, defend the Second Amendment, fight for stronger borders, and make sure that America is energy independent,” she says in this spot, filmed on a porch, the candidate never breaking eye contact with the view.

Mullin for America, “What a Woman Is.” More Republicans are invoking transgender rights in their ads, usually in the tone deployed here, by Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.): “Democrats can’t even tell us what a woman is,” says Mullin, standing next to his children — one boy, one girl, both state wrestling champs. University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, who has appeared in many of these trans-focused spots, appears here as the lead story in a fake newspaper.

NARAL Pro-Choice America/Women Vote!, “Decision Time.” The calvary arrived for Jessica Cisneros in Texas, with national pro-abortion rights groups backing up the left-wing organizations that were getting outspent on TV. “Our freedom is on the ballot,” says a narrator in this digital ad — which does not mention the word abortion.

Tim James Governor, “Strength.” James, the son of ex-governor Fob James, has come up short in other statewide races. He’s reintroduced himself in this race for governor as a conservative outsider — focus groups like nothing better — who will “say the quiet part out loud,” that Christians are being silenced. This ad follows a series of James spots where he asked why Gov. Kay Ivey was allowing an LGBTQ-positive school near Birmingham to stay open.

Ken Paxton Campaign, “George P. Bush Won’t Stop Rogue Schools.” To bury the Bush dynasty in Texas, Attorney General Paxton has portrayed his challenger as a weak liberal who won’t take on big fights. Here, a comment Bush made about the politicization of “critical race theory” becomes a warning: Bush won’t “stop rogue school districts from indoctrinating our kids with their woke agenda.”

Pennsylvania. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman was released from the hospital on Sunday, days after his landslide victory in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. According to his wife, Gisele, the candidate is still recovering after an operation that inserted a pacemaker. He also doesn’t know who he’ll be running against, as fewer than 1000 votes separate celebrity surgeon Mehmet Oz from former hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick, one week after the primary.

In overtime, the Oz-McCormick race has turned into 2022’s most ironic election, with Republicans who have campaigned to roll back mail voting, and sued to toss out mail ballots, now scrutinizing flawed ballots that voters didn’t write a date on. 

“These ballots were indisputably submitted on time,” wrote McCormick campaign attorney Ronald L. Hicks, Jr. in a filing that asked the state to preserve a potentially election-shifting amount of uncounted votes. “No fraud or irregularity has been alleged.” Fans of the 2020 election may remember Hicks from the Trump campaign’s lawsuit that aimed to throw out hundreds of thousands of mail ballots on equal protection grounds, which if successful, would have disenfranchised enough Biden voters to swing the election. (Hicks eventually withdrew himself from that case.)

Michigan. The state bureau of elections tossed most of the GOP’s candidates for governor off the primary ballot, finding thousands of invalid signatures on the forms of ex-Detroit Police chief James Craig and business consultant Perry Johnson. Both men suggested they’d keep fighting, with Johnson strategist John Yob criticizing the bureau for nixing every voter name collected by paid signature gatherers — some of the signatures, said Yob, may be legitimate.

The decision still posed problems for Craig and James, and didn’t affect Tudor Dixon, a pro-Trump activist who was collecting an endorsement from the DeVos family as the bureau was about to make its decision. Four other candidates, including anti-covid lockdown campaigner Garrett Soldano, made it past the signature-vetting process.

… 14 days until primaries in California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota
… 18 days until the special House primary in Alaska
… 21 days until primaries in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, and South Dakota, and the special election in Texas’s 34th Congressional District
… 28 days until primaries in Virginia and runoffs in Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia
… 35 days until the special election in Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District
… 162 days until the midterm elections

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