Key results from Tuesday’s primaries in seven states

Voters in seven states picked nominees in primaries and in one district held a special election to fill a House vacancy on Tuesday. Here's some of the highlights of the results.


Franken beats Finkenauer: Retired Adm. Michael Franken blocked former Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer’s Senate run Tuesday by capturing the party’s nomination with 57 percent to her 38 percent at 10:13 p.m. Eastern, when the AP called the race. Finkenauer lost her House seat to GOP Rep. Ashley Hinson in 2020 after serving only one term. Franken, who had $250,000 cash on hand as of May 18, will face an uphill race for the seat against longtime Sen. Charles E. Grassley, who held more than $4.3 million in his campaign account May 18. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race as Solid Republican.

Axne-Nunn race set: Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne will face state Sen. Zach Nunn, who won the GOP primary in Iowa’s 3rd District, one of the nation’s signature November battlegrounds for control of the House. Nunn beat fellow Republicans Nicole Hasso, an insurance executive, and business owner Gary Leffler with 68 percent of the vote when the AP called the race at 10:15 p.m. Eastern. The race is expected to attract big outside spending, as some of the chief congressional super PACs have already reserved air time heading into the fall. Inside Elections  rates the race a Toss-up.


Palazzo headed to runoff: Rep. Steven Palazzo, a Republican facing ethical scrutiny for allegedly spending campaign money on personal expenses, asking official staff to perform personal and campaign-related tasks and misusing his position to boost his brother’s Naval career, is headed to a runoff after failing to win a majority of the vote in Tuesday’s primary. 

Mississippi requires candidates to get more than 50 percent in primaries or the top two meet in a runoff on June 28.

Palazzo had 32 percent in the five-way race when the AP reported at 10:34 Eastern that he would be one of the candidates in the runoff. Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell and businessman Clay Wagner were vying for the second spot, but that had not been called. The allegations against Palazzo surfaced after a 2019 primary challenger noticed irregularities in his campaign finance reports and hired a private investigator, who turned his findings over to the Campaign Legal Center. The nonprofit watchdog group filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics, Mississippi Today reported. The OCE detailed its findings in a report released in 2021 and handed the matter to the House Ethics Committee, which has said it is looking into the allegations.

New Jersey

Payne beats back challenge from ‘extreme left’: Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr. won the Democratic primary for New Jersey’s 10th District, with 84 percent of the vote, while challenger Imani Oakley had 12 percent when AP called the race at 9:26 p.m. Tuesday.

Oakley’s primary challenge sparked Payne to step up his fundraising and campaign efforts this year, as he sought the Democratic nomination in his bid for a sixth full term. Payne also secured endorsements from several other House members, who noted his support for progressive policies. 

“Rep. Payne, a proven progressive, is facing a primary challenge from the extreme left,” statement from Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Josh Gottheimer, Terri Sewell and Cheri Bustos said in a joint statement through Team BLUE PAC before voting closed on Tuesday. The race in November is rated Solid Democratic by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales.

Menendez Jr. takes nomination: Attorney Rob Menendez won the Democratic nomination to succeed retiring Rep. Albio Sires in New Jersey’s 8th District, taking 82 percent of the vote in a three-candidate field when AP called the race at 10:07 p.m. Eastern. 

Menendez is the son of Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, who held the seat before Sires. He will face Marcos Arroyo, who ran unopposed for the Republican nomination, in the general election. Inside Elections rates that race Solid Democratic. Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report with Amy E. Walter on Tuesday called it "perhaps the least competitive open seat race in the country."

Kean set for Malinowski rematch: Former state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. won the GOP nomination in the 7th District with 45 percent of the vote, setting up a 2020 rematch with Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski. Six other Republicans also ran in the primary, which the AP called for Kean tat 10:03 p.m.

Kean, whose father is a former governor, came within 1.2 percentage points of defeating Malinowski two years ago, and the district became more favorable for Republicans this cycle. Malinowski has also had to contend with an ethics investigation after he failed to report stock trades.

Some of Kean’s primary opponents argued that he isn’t conservative enough, but the National Republican Campaign Committee named him to its “Young Guns” program for promising candidates who meet certain fundraising and communications benchmarks.  Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race as a Toss-up. 

New Mexico

Vasquez to face Herrell in 2nd District: Progressive former Las Cruces City Councilor Gabriel Vasquez won the Democratic primary to challenge GOP Rep. Yvette Herrell in November. Vasquez, a former aide to Sen. Martin Heinrich, had 79 percent of the vote to 21 percent for physician and labor leader Darshan Patel when the AP called the race at 9:01 p.m. Eastern. Herrell was unopposed in her primary. The race in November is rated a Toss-up by Inside Elections.

South Dakota

Johnson fends off challenge: GOP Rep. Dusty Johnson fended off a primary from his right brought by state Rep. Taffy Howard, who accused him of not being vigorous enough in his support for former President Donald Trump. 

Johnson had 61 percent of the vote to Howard’s 39 percent when the AP called the race at 10:43 Eastern. 

Johnson had raised $1.9 million to Howard’s $310,000 as of May 18, and the incumbent still had $2.5 million in the bank. But the race attracted the attention of outside groups representing different factions of the GOP. The traditional conservative Defending Main Street PAC spent $218,000 to help Johnson, who also got $147,000 in outside support from American Dream Federal Action, a super PAC solely funded by cryptocurrency billionaire Ryan Salame. The far-right Drain the DC Swamp PAC and Freedom’s Action PAC spent $552,000 to boost Howard’s campaign. 

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