Need to Know: Primary Elections Show Trump’s Influence on Both Sides of the Aisle
Potential lawmakers, governors, and state attorneys across the U.S. pinned their candidacies on support or opposition of the president, setting the stage for a decisive November midterm.
Published on June 6, 2018

Photo via Danny Howard

Responding to President Donald Trump’s polarizing policies and the potential for Democrats to retake control of Congress this November, voters in eight U.S. states took to the polls on Tuesday in one of the most highly anticipated midterm primary elections in recent history, turning out victories for a number of women, pro-pot candidates, and prominent California Democrats.

Most notably, current California Lieutenant Governor and vocal Trump opponent Gavin Newsom won one of two secured spots in upcoming Governor’s race, where he will face Republican Jon Cox. Since Trump first took office early last year, Newsom has dedicated his work to counteracting Trump’s policies on everything from immigration to legal weed, running his campaign under the purposely antagonistic tagline, “Resistance With Results.” Cox, a little-known Republican businessman who nevertheless came in second, has already been endorsed by President Trump.

“We’re engaged in an epic battle, and it looks like voters will have a real choice this November between a governor who’s going to stand up to Donald Trump and a foot soldier in his war on California,” said Newsom.

In addition to Newsom’s victory, incumbent California Senator Dianne Feinstein won the right to seek re-election, despite facing a number of Democratic challengers to her left. Because California’s primary system advances the top two vote getters to the general election, regardless of party affiliation, pundits worried that strong showings from multiple Republican candidates in red-washed districts could lock Golden State Democrats out of certain midterm battles. And while there are still absentee ballots in the Golden State still waiting to be counted, early indications suggest that liberal candidates avoided that potential problem in November.

Around the country, voters in Tuesday’s seven other primary states cast their votes in similarly partisan patterns, with Alabama Republican Rep. Martha Roby now facing a July runoff election largely influenced by her public rebukes of Trump. Challenging Roby will be Bobby Bright, a former Democrat who has since found success aligning himself with President Trump and the right side of the aisle.

On the whole, Tuesday was a successful night for women candidates, 122 of whom appeared on ballots across the country — the most on any single primary day in U.S. history. In addition to Feinstein's victory, California congressional hopefuls Katie Hill (CA-25) and Katie Porter (CA-45) won their respective elections. In New Mexico, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham won the gubernatorial primary, and Deb Haaland, who could potentially become the first Native American woman to serve in Congress, won a spot in the fight for Grisham’s now-vacated legislative seat.

In Missouri, a special election for a Republican-held state Senate seat encapsulated Tuesday’s polarized politics and successful female showings in one scale-shifting vote. Defeating incumbent Kevin Corlew, Democrat Lauren Arthur flipped the office in suburban Kansas City.

Continuing the year’s tumultuous primary season, voters in five more states will cast their ballots for a host of state and federal offices next Tuesday, June 12th.

Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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