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Aug. 9, 2022, 7:13 p.m. EDT

Spotlight shines brightest on Wisconsin during Tuesday’s slate of party primaries

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Associated Press

The Republican matchup in the Wisconsin governor’s race on Tuesday features competing candidates endorsed by former President Donald Trump and his estranged vice president, Mike Pence. And Democrats are picking a candidate to face two-term GOP Sen. Ron Johnson for control of the closely divided chamber.

The race for the Republican nod for governor in particular heated up when news broke late Monday of an FBI search of Trump’s private club, Mar-a-Lago , in south Florida.

See: Trump will lead GOP until ‘he takes his last breath,’ CPAC chairman says

Also: Betting markets favor DeSantis over Trump for 2024 Republican presidential nomination, as FBI searches Mar-a-Lago

Meanwhile, voters in Vermont are choosing a replacement for U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy as the chamber’s longest-serving member retires. In Minnesota, U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar faces a Democratic primary challenger who helped defeat a voter referendum to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety.

What to watch in Tuesday’s primary elections in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont and Connecticut:

Wisconsin: Construction-company co-owner Tim Michels has Trump’s endorsement in the governor’s race and has been spending millions of his own money, touting both the former president’s backing and his years working to build his family’s business into Wisconsin’s largest construction company.

Michels, who casts himself as an outsider, sought to mine political advantage from the Mar-a-Lago search by stoking fear that if the FBI would raid the residence of a former president, no one is safe, suggesting that voting in Tuesday’s primary was the remedy. He previously lost a campaign to oust then–U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold in 2004 and has long been a prominent GOP donor.

Establishment Republicans including Pence along with the state’s most recent former Republican governor, Scott Walker, have endorsed former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who along with Walker survived a recall a decade ago. She argues she has the experience and knowledge to pursue conservative priorities, including dismantling the bipartisan commission that runs elections.

Kleefisch spoke of the Mar-a-Lago search only in vague terms.

With Senate control at stake, Democrats will also make their pick to take on Johnson.

See: Wisconsin Democrats sense new vulnerability in U.S. Senate incumbent Ron Johnson amid fake-electors revelations

And: Former Trump aides testify that numerous Republican lawmakers asked for presidential pardons after Jan. 6 attack on Capitol

Democratic support coalesced around Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes late in the race, when his three top rivals dropped out and threw their support to Barnes . He would become the state’s first Black senator if elected.

Several lesser-known candidates remain in the primary, but Johnson and Republicans have treated Barnes as the nominee, casting him as too liberal for Wisconsin, a state Trump won in 2016 but lost in 2020.

Don’t miss: ‘Decertification’ of Trump loss to Biden in 2020 emerges as new litmus test in Republican primaries

Key Words: Trump lost, and the 2020 election wasn’t stolen, group of prominent conservatives concludes after exhaustive study

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