Republican voters in Illinois on Tuesday nominated a conservative hardliner for governor, pulling state senator Darren Bailey out of a bruise and expensive primaries that saw the spending of three dueling billionaires — including the current Democratic governor, who spent tens of millions of dollars meddling in Republican presidential elections. contest.
Bailey defeated Mayor Richard C. Irvin of Aurora, the moderate black mayor of the state’s second-largest city, in a race that captured the ongoing power struggle within the Republican Party. On one side were the fiscal conservatives of the old guard who financed Mr. Irvin. On the other side was an emerging GOP wing that wants to take a more combative approach to politics, inspired by former President Donald J. Trump.
Kenneth Griffin, a Chicago-based Republican and founder of hedge funds, poured $50 million into Mr. Irvin in an effort to find a moderate Republican who could compete with the Democrats in a blue state. But his favorite candidate was attacked not only by Mr. Bailey and other Republicans, but also by the Democratic Governors Association and Governor JB Pritzker, a fellow billionaire and Democrat. And Mr. Bailey had his own billionaire: Richard Uihlein, a top financier on the right.
Democrats welcomed Mr. Bailey to the general election by marking the opponent they had helped as a “MAGA extremist.”
“Bailey is way too conservative for Illinois,” said Noam Lee, the executive director of the Democratic Governors Association.
Bailey called Chicago a “hell hole” during a primary debate, was once removed from a legislative session for refusing to wear a mask and has said he is against abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. Mr Trump backed him this weekend.
Democrats also spent money Tuesday shaping three Colorado Republican primaries for the Senate, governor and House — and lost in all three.
Concerned that an eroding national political climate could endanger a Democratic incumbent senator, Michael Bennet, Democrats spent a lot of money to intervene in the Republican primaries. They helped lift State Representative Ron Hanks, a far-right Republican who marched to the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021.
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But the attempt failed when a more moderate businessman, Joe O’Dea, won on Tuesday. His campaign was celebrated by handing out fake newspapers to supporters at his victory celebration with the banner headline “O’DEA BEATS SCHUMER.”
In his Denver victory speech, Mr. O’Dea pledged to be “like a Republican Joe Manchin” and labeled the Democrats’ failed intervention as “everything the American people hate about politics.”
“It’s pure cynicism and deceit,” said Mr O’Dea.
Illinois and Colorado were two of seven states to hold primary or runoff elections on Tuesday, the first races since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last week and pushed abortion back to the center of the American political debate.
In New York, Governor Kathy Hochul won the Democratic nomination for her first full term after succeeding Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, who resigned under pressure for sexual misconduct. In Oklahoma, voters sought out a crowd of Republicans for a rare open Senate seat. And in Mississippi, one House Republican was defeated in a runoff election and another survived a right-wing challenger. There were also games in Utah and South Carolina, including for the Senate.
Democrats had also tried to meddle in the Republican primary for Colorado governor, where an outside group spent money to link Greg Lopez, a former Parker mayor, to Mr. Trump in a backhanded attempt to elevate him above Heidi Ganahl. a University of Colorado regent.
But Ms. Ganahl triumphed and will face Governor Jared Polis, a Democrat who became the first openly gay man to be elected to a governorship in 2018 and is seeking reelection.
Democrats had also spent time in Colorado’s open Eighth District aiding another far-right candidate. The seat is expected to be competitive in the fall.
In another closely watched Colorado race, Tina Peters, a Mesa County clerk charged with seven felonies over charges of tampering with voting machines to prove the 2020 presidential election had been rigged, lost her bid for the Republican nomination to oversee, lost. elections as Secretary of State.
Ms. Peters has pleaded not guilty, and the charges made her something of a hero for the election denial movement spearheaded by Mr. Trump. But that wasn’t enough for her to beat Pam Anderson, a former clerk in Jefferson County.
On Tuesday, a voter, Sienna Wells, a 31-year-old software developer and registered independent living in Mesa County, cast her vote in the Republican primary to oppose Ms. Peters, calling her “insane.”
“She says she wants free and fair elections and things like that, but if she comes in, she’s going to be the one committing fraud,” Mrs. Wells said. “It’s terrible.”
In Illinois, an aggressive realignment by Democrats in the process of a once-a-decade realignment sparked half a dozen competitive House primaries, including two pitting established parties of the same party against each other. The races were the last battlegrounds for the ideological factions of the two sides.
In suburban Chicago, Representative Sean Casten defeated Representative Marie Newman after both Democrats were drawn into the same district. Ms. Newman had defeated a moderate Democratic incumbent to win her seat just two years ago. But she has since been under investigation for promising a job to an opponent in order to get him to leave her race.
Mr Casten’s victory came two weeks after he experienced a personal tragedy: the death of his 17-year-old daughter.
In a sprawling and twisted new district around Springfield, Illinois, two Republican incumbent officials, Representatives Rodney Davis and Mary Miller, were at odds. The contest involved more than $11.5 million in outside spending. Mr. Davis is an ally of Republican leaders and has benefited from PAC spending related to Mr. Griffin, the Republican billionaire and the crypto industry. Ms Miller was supported by spending from the Club for Growth, a conservative anti-tax group.
Mrs. Miller won.
Her success was a win for Mr Trump, who backed her months ago in a match seen on Tuesday as the greatest test of his personal influence. Ms. Miller, who made an unqualified reference to Adolf Hitler at a meeting in Washington last year, made headlines again last weekend at a meeting with Mr. Trump in Illinois. She praised the Supreme Court decision quashing Roe as a “victory for white life.” An assistant said she misread a prepared line about the “right to life.”
In Chicago, Representative Danny K. Davis, an 80-year-old black Democrat, faced a tough primary challenge from Kina Collins, a 31-year-old gun safety activist, in one of the country’s most solid Democratic seats. Collins ran and lost by a wide margin in 2020, but found more traction this year. President Biden gave a belated endorsement to Mr. Davis, who was in the lead late Tuesday, though the race was still too close to call.
In Mississippi, Representative Michael Guest held off a primary challenge in the Third District from Navy veteran Michael Cassidy.
Guest had drawn attacks as one of three dozen Republicans who voted to authorize an independent committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack, though no such committee was ever formed. Instead, a Democrat-led House committee is now investigating.
But after Mr. Cassidy narrows past Mr. Guest, a super PAC aligned with Republican minority leader Kevin McCarthy, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, spent more than $500,000 attacking Mr. Cassidy in the last two weeks before the second round.
Mississippi’s Fourth District Representative Steven Palazzo was defeated by Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell on Tuesday. Seeking a seventh term, Mr Palazzo had earned just 31 percent of the vote in the first round and was deemed vulnerable after an ethics investigation by Congress in 2021 accused him of misusing campaign funds and other violations. .
In Oklahoma, the early resignation of Senator James M. Inhofe, a Republican retiring in January, provided a rare open seat in the solid Republican state and drew an expanded primary field.
Representative Markwayne Mullin and TW Shannon, the former Speaker of the Oklahoma House, advanced to the second round. Scott Pruitt, the former Environmental Protection Agency administrator, was on track for a weak fifth place finish.
In Utah, Senator Mike Lee, the incumbent Republican, defeated two primary challengers. In a state that is a conservative stronghold, Democrats decided not to put forward a candidate and instead supported Evan McMullin, an independent who made a long-cherished run for president in 2016 by calling on anti-Trump Republicans. .
Ryan Biller reporting contributed.