2018 mid-term primary coverage: winners and losers

On Tuesday, voters took to the polls in five states to select candidates for the November mid-terms. The following is a recap of the day’s winners and losers:


In Ohio’s 12th District, there was a special election to replace Rep. Pat Tiberi, a Republican who resigned in January. In a race that is still too close to call, GOP state Sen. Troy Balderson leads Democratic Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor by 1,754 votes with over 3,500 provisional ballots yet to be counted.

The district, which has been held by Republicans for nearly four decades, is not typically hotly contested. The fact a Democratic challenger came within one percentage point of winning is seen by many as an indictment of the current U.S. administration.

While Donald Trump won the district by 11 points in 2016, the president was quick to take credit for Balderson’s as-of-yet unconfirmed win:

According to reports, national GOP organizations dumped more than $4 million into a seat that will only be held until the new Congress is seated in January. The two candidates will face each other again in November.


Four Republicans and three Democrats vied for their respective party’s top spot in the race for governor. When the votes were counted, Attorney General Bill Schuette received the Republican nod and former state Sen. Gretchen Whitmer got the go-ahead from Democrats.

In the U.S. Senate primary, Trump-endorsed candidate John James — an Iraq veteran and son of an Army Corps of Engineers officer who founded a global logistics conglomerate — was selected to face Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow in November.

Also of note, in House District 13, former Michigan state Rep. Rashida Tlaib won the primary for an uncontested race in November. Tlaib will most likely become the first Muslim woman elected to Congress.

A special election to fill the remainder of the term vacated by Rep. John Conyers was still too close to call.


The Show Me State tapped conservative Attorney General Josh Hawley to run against incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Because of her low approval ratings and Trump’s 18-point victory in the state in 2016, McCaskill is considered one of the most vulnerable senators in the mid-terms.

Hawley’s long-shot opponent, former Libertarian presidential candidate Austin Petersen, gained more notoriety than actual votes from his AR-15 and 3D gun printer giveaways.  A passionate gun-rights advocate, Petersen finished a distant third place in his home state.

In a significant win for organized labor, Missourians overturned a right-to-work law by referendum. The law would have allowed private-sector workers to opt out of paying union fees in unionized workplaces.


By mid-day, Wednesday, the GOP primary race for governor was still too close to call. The contest between incumbent Jeff Colyer, who has served in the role since Sam Brownback resigned to accept an ambassadorship, and Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who was endorsed by Trump, has drawn a lot of attention.

With fewer than 200 votes separating the two candidates, a recount is likely. Kobach’s office would be in charge of the effort and it remains to be seen if he will recuse himself.

State Sen. Laura Kelly won the Democratic primary with over 52 percent of the vote and Greg Orman, a businessman, is running as an independent.

Democrats are hopeful that a contest between Kelly and Kobach would give them an opportunity in November, given Kobach’s close ties to Trump and conservative views that some see as extreme.


The “jungle primaries” in Washington state pit the top two candidates against one another, regardless of party.

In the U.S. Senate primary, a field of 29 candidates competed for the chance to run in the November mid-terms. Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell easily placed in the top two, as did former Republican state party chair, Susan Hutchinson.

Several House districts are still too close to call, as of Wednesday afternoon.


Editor’s note: This article has been edited twice since its original publication


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