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The Morning Dispatch: Another Blockbuster Primaries Tuesday
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The Morning Dispatch: Another Blockbuster Primaries Tuesday

We round up key results in Michigan, Missouri, Arizona, and Washington.

Happy Wednesday! Midwesterners in the room: Reporters crunched the numbers, and apparently your biggest cultural touchstone is the “toothy, googly-eyed” walleye fish. Congrats?

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Kansas voters on Tuesday rejected a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would have specified it doesn’t provide the right to an abortion—allowing lawmakers to pass an abortion ban. The red state is the first to vote on abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, but Kentucky will consider a similar measure in November, while Vermont and likely Michigan will vote on adding a right to abortion to their constitutions.

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan yesterday, becoming the highest-ranking United States politician to visit the island since the 1990s. China considers the self-governed island part of its territory and announced plans for live-fire military exercises surrounding the island once Pelosi leaves. It also announced import bans on citrus and some fish products from Taiwan.

  • A new lawsuit alleges the Department of Defense wiped the phones of departing high-level Pentagon officials at the end of the Trump administration, erasing any Jan. 6-related texts, CNN reports. That makes the DOD the third federal agency accused of improperly removing records. Jan. 6 committee chair Bennie Thompson and House Oversight chair Carolyn Maloney suggested in a Monday letter to Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari that there is evidence of a cover-up in his investigation into missing Secret Service text messages from Jan. 6. Meanwhile, a federal grand jury has subpoenaed former White House counsel Pat Cipollone for its investigation into the events of Jan. 6, ABC reports.

  • The Senate passed 86-11 Tuesday night a bill expanding health benefits for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits, sending it to President Joe Biden’s desk. Republicans had reversed their support and stonewalled its passage last week, crediting their opposition to discretionary spending objections. Democrats and advocates accused them of withholding the money in retaliation for the Democrats’ newly-announced reconciliation spending package.

  • The Labor Department reported Tuesday that U.S. job openings dropped to 10.7 million in June from 11.3 million in May. That’s a nine-month low and suggests some softening in the labor market, but still higher than normal with 1.8 job openings for every unemployed person.

  • The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging Idaho’s near-total abortion ban. The lawsuit—the Department’s first abortion litigation since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade earlier this summer—alleges that the Idaho law’s narrow life-of-the-mother exception conflicts with federal law requiring hospitals to provide life-saving treatment.

What We Know So Far About Tuesday’s Primaries

(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

If it’s Tuesday, it’s time for primaries. This week was no exception, and several interesting Republican races kept us busy across the country.

Washington’s pro-impeachment Republicans still standing

Twelve-year-incumbent Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler led far-right challengers in the preliminary results of Washington’s 3rd congressional district. One of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump in 2021, she battled opposition from Trump and his supporters but ended the night ahead of Republican Joe Kent, with 24.5 percent of the vote to Kent’s 21 percent. Herrera Beutler appears to have finished second overall in the so-called “jungle primary,” where the top two voter-getters go on to compete against one another in November, regardless of party. If the results hold, she’ll face Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, who has 31 percent of the vote, in a race Herrera Beutler is favored to win.

In the neighboring 4th congressional district, fellow pro-impeachment Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse is leading all candidates with 27 percent of the vote. Loren Culp, a Trump-endorsed candidate who’d previously run for governor, sits in third place. 

In Michigan, pro-impeachment lawmaker falls

Unlike Herrera Beutler and Newhouse, pro-impeachment Republican Rep. Peter Meijer didn’t survive the night. The first-term, libertarian-leaning conservative lost to John Gibbs, a former Trump administration official who has promoted conspiracy theories and said he does not believe Joe Biden was legitimately elected. 

Gibbs will face off against former Justice Department attorney Hillary Scholten, who lost to Meijer two years ago, before the district was redrawn in a manner more favorable to Democrats. Joe Biden won the area that makes up the new district by 9 points in 2020. 

Scholten is favored to beat Gibbs in the general election, and national Democrats spent $435,000 on ads supporting the MAGA Republican to secure this matchup, Price reports in a piece from Grand Rapids. “It is playing with fire if the intent was to promote the most extreme candidates,” Gary Stark, who served as the chair of the Kent County Democratic Party during the 2020 election, told The Dispatch on Monday. “That is not a good long term strategy. Because there’s always a possibility that they’re going to win in the long term, and we don’t want to have contributed to that.”

In his statement conceding the race, Meijer did not endorse Gibbs, but promised to “continue to do everything possible to move the Republican Party, West Michigan, and our country in a positive direction.”

“I’m proud to have remained true to my principles, even when doing so came at a significant political cost,” Meijer said. “A Constitutional Republic like ours requires leaders who are willing to take on the big challenges, to find common ground when possible, and to put their love of country before partisan advantage.”

In Arizona, Masters follows the Vance formula

Back in May, Andrew writes, Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance showed that an endorsement from Donald Trump and a huge infusion of cash from PayPal founder Peter Thiel could put a political newcomer over the top in a GOP Senate primary. In Arizona, Blake Masters looks poised to replicate those findings, as he maintains a decent lead over veteran, solar energy executive, and one-time false Trump elector Jim Lamon, 38.9 percent to 28.9 percent, with 78 percent of precincts reporting as of Wednesday morning. State attorney general Mark Brnovich is all but out of the running with an 18.4 percent vote share.

Masters is a longtime Thiel protege, having met the billionaire while attending Stanford Law and working as an executive for various Thiel companies for most of the last decade. He has run a hard-edged MAGA-themed campaign featuring conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, an “America first” foreign policy including opposition to aid for Ukraine, and hardline stances on immigration.

The primary race between Masters and Lamon, who also ran on an immigration-heavy platform as well as on energy issues, made for a remarkable spending scrum: Thiel has dropped $15 million in support of Masters, while Lamon has loaned his own campaign nearly as much.

Massively outspent during the campaign, third-place finisher Brnovich spent the campaign’s closing days trying to shoot down the conspiracy theories of 2020 election chicanery that the other two candidates have embraced. 

Missouri was a close one—until it wasn’t.

For most of the past year, Andrew reports, the top three candidates vying for Missouri’s GOP Senate nomination—state attorney general Eric Schmitt, former Gov. Eric Greitens, and U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler—were neck-and-neck-and-neck, all in the 20-point range in the contest’s sporadic public polls, with each candidate showing signs at different times of a possible surge. 

But the outcome was clear Tuesday night not long after polls closed: Schmitt had coasted to victory, with forecasters declaring him winner after only a handful of precincts had reported their results. By the end of the night, with about 94 percent of the vote tallied, Schmitt was sitting on 45.7 percent, with Hartzler tagging up at 22 percent and Greitens limping into third with 19 percent. 

Schmitt will face Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine this November in a race he is heavily favored to win. If he does, he’ll join a Senate delegation now helmed by his immediate predecessor as attorney general, Sen. Josh Hawley.

Why did the formerly tight race finish so lopsided? For one, former Gov. Greitens was attempting a Dark-MAGA comeback just four years after resigning from office in the wake of a sordid sex scandal. When Greitens’ ex-wife Sheena accused him in court of abusing her and their children, outside groups poured money into the race opposing him. Greitens never recovered.

Schmitt, meanwhile, successfully positioned himself as the most viable alternative to Greitens and got a huge boost when former president Donald Trump slapped down Hartzler. Plus, many Republicans of the current moment don’t thrill to the prospect of a candidate like Hartzler who’s ready to get to Congress, roll up her sleeves, and dive into committee and constituent work. They’re more looking for somebody who says they’ll head to Washington and get busy punching the Democrats in the mouth. And despite having been an aisle-crossing moderate during an earlier turn in the state Senate, Schmitt’s made the most of his perch as attorney general since 2019 to show he’s exactly the kind of candidate such voters have in mind. “I get up in the morning, I go to work, I sue Joe Biden, I go home” was a regular, effective, and accurate stump-speech line.

A ringing Trump endorsement could have moved the race, but the former president weighed in only at the last minute and endorsed not one but two Erics—Greitens and Schmitt. By that point, it was too late anyway.

“Once Trump agreed not to endorse someone early is when Schmitt won,” former state senator John Lamping, a one-time Greitens ally, told The Dispatch Tuesday. “He won the race five or six weeks ago.”

Worth Your Time

  • What happened to the Arab Spring activists fêted on talk shows and praised by the U.S. Secretary of State? In the New York Times, Zeynep Tufekci writes about the near eight-year imprisonment of one, Alaa Abd el-Fattah, and argues the West has failed to use its leverage to improve his treatment or secure his release. “[Alaa] reports long periods of being deprived of exercise, sunlight, books and newspapers and any access to the written word,” Tufekci writes. “Countries professing to care about human rights are the ones with leverage, as Egypt depends on foreign aid, trade and tourism to keep its economy going, and there’s no reason it can’t release a few political prisoners and improve prison conditions, even if just for appearance’s sake, since it would pose no threat to the regime. That Egypt is not pushed harder to do even this little is a moral stain that cannot be justified by realpolitik.”

  • Any time there’s a debate playing out on a political stage, it’s probably playing out in the edits of Wikipedia pages, too—and that includes the recent wrangling over how to define a recession, so the page is locked from editing. “Locking Wikipedia pages to prevent partisan edits is nothing new,” Stephen Carter writes for Bloomberg. “But this inevitable truth shouldn’t be discouraging. When knowledge is crowd-sourced, sharp disparities of viewpoint should be considered a good. A 2019 study in Nature Human Behavior concluded that the best Wikipedia articles often result when the editors are politically polarized–even when the articles in question are about not politics but science. After examining the ‘talk’ pages (where Wikipedians argue over content) the authors found that ‘ideologically polarized teams engage in longer, more constructive, competitive and substantively focused but linguistically diverse debates than teams of ideological moderates.’ Hmmm. Constructive, substantive, focused debate. Where else do we find that online?”

  • The truce is holding Yemen, but David Kenner reports for The Atlantic on the Yemenis’ difficulty making a life outside war after years of destruction. “Spend any time at all in [the city of] Aden, and you will find a whole new generation furious at the impossibility of building a life here,” Kenner writes. “There are the medical students without textbooks or functional internet, the psychiatrist specializing in conflict trauma who had his desk taken away by university administrators, and the government official who works from home because heavily armed men occupy his office. The list goes on. If you listen to diplomats, this moment constitutes a hopeful one for Yemen. … For residents of Aden, however, international diplomacy often seems divorced from the daily struggles of life. So much has already been lost. What remains feels ephemeral. And there is only one employer that is always hiring. Standing in the courtyard of the University of Aden, I asked a medical student what would happen if he couldn’t find work after graduation. ‘There’s always the war,’ he said. ‘You can make 1,000 Saudi rials [$266] each month as a fighter.’”

Presented Without Comment

Also Presented Without Comment

Toeing the Company Line

  • Last night’s Dispatch Live (🔒) was a foreign policy palooza with Klon, David, and Steve. They covered Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan and U.S.-China relations, plus the successful drone strike that killed Taliban leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and how to read it in the context of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

  • In Tuesday’s Uphill, Haley details Congress’s reaction to the death of Zawahiri and what it means for the legacy of the Afghanistan withdrawal. Plus, Nancy Pelosi goes to Taiwan, the Senate takes another crack at the veterans’ healthcare bill, and lawmakers respond to the Manchin/Schumer Inflation Reduction Act. 

  • On today’s Remnant, Chris Stirewalt is in for Jonah and joined by columnist A.B. Stoddard. The pair talk midterm politics, 2024, third parties, and the Inflation Reduction Act—will it actually reduce inflation? Bonus: should you eat roast pork in August?

  • Pelosi did the right thing following through on her trip to Taiwan, David argues in his latest French Press (🔒). “I’ve had many, many differences with Nancy Pelosi, but she’s doing something today that is bold and good—backed by the immense power of the United States Pacific Fleet,” he writes. “This is her moment. This is the Navy’s moment. Their resolve and their power are the key to peace.”

  • On the site today, Jonah argues that the Inflation Reduction Act is far from a slam dunk for the Biden administration, Andrew Fink breaks down everything that is wrong with Josh Hawley’s desire to exclude Finland and Sweden from NATO, Andrew covers the Missouri GOP Senate primary, and reporting from Grand Rapids, Price covers Peter Meijer’s loss to his Trump endorsed primary challenger.

Let Us Know

We can’t resist a double-header today: Which primary result do you find most significant, and why? And what do you think is the Midwest’s chief hallmark?

Esther Eaton is a former deputy editor of The Morning Dispatch.

Price St. Clair is a former reporter for The Dispatch.

Andrew Egger is a former associate editor for The Dispatch.