(The Hill) — Voters in Wisconsin are set to pick the candidates on Tuesday for their marquee statewide races of the 2022 midterm elections, while Minnesota voters are set to choose a replacement for the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.).
Meanwhile, voters in Vermont appear likely to get a little bit closer to a history-making decision: sending the first woman to represent the state in Congress.
Here are six races to watch in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Vermont on Tuesday.
Wisconsin GOP gubernatorial primary
The Republican primary to take on Gov. Tony Evers (D) this fall is the latest proxy war unfolding between former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence.
Trump is backing businessman Tim Michels in the race, while Pence came out in support of former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch late last month.
Recent polling in the race has been relatively scarce, but what’s clear is that it’s expected to be tight. A Marquette Law School poll conducted shortly after Michels scored Trump’s endorsement in early June found him and Kleefisch in a dead heat, while an Emerson College poll released over the weekend showed Kleefisch with a 2-point lead – still within the survey’s margin of error.
But there’s at least one complicating factor: both the Marquette poll and Emerson survey included Republican Kevin Nicholson among the list of candidates. Nicholson dropped out of the race in July, and it’s unclear whom his supporters will vote for on Tuesday.
Michels has also spent heavily in the race, dropping some $11 million of his own money into his campaign as of late July.
Wisconsin Senate primaries
The Democratic Senate primary was once seen as among the most competitive of the 2022 election cycle.
But that all changed in recent weeks as three of the top-tier candidates in the race suspended their campaigns and threw their support behind Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who’s now the clear favorite to clinch the nomination on Tuesday.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), meanwhile, is facing only one primary rival, David Schroeder, though the challenge isn’t seen as a serious threat to Johnson’s renomination.
Still, the Senate primaries are poised to be closely watched because they will set up one of the most high-stakes general election matchups of the year. Johnson is deeply loathed by Democrats and they’re eager to oust him this year. What’s more, a win in Wisconsin could prove pivotal for Democrats as they look to hold onto their paper-thin Senate majority.
Wisconsin 3rd District Democratic primary
Rep. Ron Kind’s (D-Wis.) decision not to seek reelection this year in Wisconsin’s redrawn 3rd Congressional District set off a scramble among Democrats to succeed him.
Among those running for the Democratic nomination are former Army Capt. Deb McGrath, small business owner Rebecca Cooke and La Crosse City Councilor Mark Neumann. But the favorite to clinch the party’s nod on Tuesday is state Sen. Brad Pfaff, a former staffer for Kind and the top fundraiser in the primary.
The eventual winner will go on to face Republican Derrick Van Orden in the November general election. Van Orden, who unsuccessfully challenged Kind in 2020, is unopposed in the Tuesday primary and has already gotten outside support from groups like the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), a super PAC aligned with House GOP leadership.
While Democrats are eager to hold onto Kind’s seat, it won’t be an easy task. The 3rd District leans Republican and Democrats no longer have the advantage of a longtime incumbent running for the seat.
Vermont at-large district primary
After Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced his retirement last year, Vermont’s lone House member, Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) launched a bid to replace him, leaving his seat open for the taking.
Ultimately, five Democrats announced campaigns to succeed Welch in the House, but the field has since winnowed down to three candidates: state Sen. Becca Balint, Lt. Gov. Molly Gray and physician Louis Meyers.
Balint and Gray, however, are seen as the most likely picks on Tuesday. Both have raised around the same amount of money for their campaigns and have their own lists of high-profile supporters. Balint has the endorsement of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), while Leahy has said that he cast his ballot for Gray.
If either woman wins on Tuesday, she will very likely go on to make history in November by becoming the first female to represent Vermont on Capitol Hill. While three Republicans are vying for the nomination to succeed Welch, Vermont’s at-large House seat leans heavily Democratic.
Minnesota 5th District Democratic primary
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) will become the latest member of the “squad” – the group of progressive representatives – to face a primary challenge on Tuesday.
All in all, she’s facing four rival Democrats as she looks to secure a third term in the House, but her main challenge comes from Former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels, who’s racked up a list of Minnesota-based endorsers.
But ousting Omar won’t be easy. While Samuels has raised more than $1 million for his primary campaign, it’s still short of the roughly $2.4 million that Omar has pulled in. At the same time, the two-term congresswoman has the support of many of her fellow House members.
Still, Omar has proven a divisive figure since winning her seat in 2018; she’s a much-beloved figure among progressives, but has occasionally prompted frustration among her party’s moderate and establishment wings.
Of course, other “squad” members who have faced primary challenges this year – most recently Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) – have won renomination.
Minnesota 1st District special election
Republican Brad Finstad and Democrat Jeffrey Ettinger are facing off Tuesday in a contest that will determine who will serve out the remainder of the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn’s (R-Minn.) term.
The district leans heavily Republican, making Finstad the heavy favorite heading into the Tuesday race.
But that doesn’t mean the results won’t carry any weight. Special elections are often seen as indicators of which party has momentum ahead of November. If Ettinger wins on Tuesday night – or even if he comes close – it will likely be seen as a sign that the political landscape may be improving for Democrats.
At the same time, both Finstad and Ettinger will also appear on the primary ballot on Tuesday that will decide the two parties’ nominees in the November general election. Ettinger isn’t facing a serious challenge, though Finstad will see a rematch against state Rep. Jeremy Munson, who lost a May primary for the special election by only about 1 percentage point.