2 Trump Targets Fall, 2 Survive June 28 Primary Challenges

By John Haughey
John Haughey
John Haughey
John Haughey has been a working journalist since 1978 with an extensive background in local government, state legislatures, and growth and development. A graduate of the University of Wyoming, he is a Navy veteran who fought fires at sea during three deployments aboard USS Constellation. He’s been a reporter for daily newspapers in California, Washington, Wyoming, New York, and Florida; a staff writer for Manhattan-based business trade publications.
June 29, 2022 Updated: June 30, 2022

Two Republican congressional incumbents who incurred former President Donald Trump’s wrath were defeated, while two others survived inter-party challenges in June 28 runoffs and primaries.

Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), who’s being investigated for alleged federal campaign violations, fell in a Republican runoff, while Trump-endorsed incumbent Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.) defeated Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) in their Illinois GOP primary.

The incumbents join Reps. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), David McKinley (R-W.Va.), and Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) as GOP lawmakers who’ve fallen into the former president’s disfavor and lost their primary battles.

Reps. Michael Guest (R-Miss.), who voted in favor of forming a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, protest at the U.S. Capitol, survived a runoff, and Blake Moore (R-Utah), who also supported bipartisan legislation to create the Jan. 6 House Select Committee, easily won his GOP primary.

Those races were among dozens of local, state, and congressional races as voters in seven states cast ballots in June 28 runoffs and primaries, capping a busy month of preliminary contests to finalize November general election ballots.

The June 28 contests included five Senate primaries in four states and three gubernatorial primaries, including in New York, where Gov. Kathy Hochul easily won her Democratic primary and will face Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) in November..

Zeldin was the top vote-getter in a four-way GOP primary to win the party’s  nomination. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s son, Andrew Giuliani, finished second.

Despite his former personal attorney’s son being in the race for governor, Trump didn’t issue any endorsements in that primary.

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Oklahoma Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) talks to voters at a primary day campaign event on June 28 in Oklahoma City. (Jeff Louderback/Epoch Times)

Oklahoma

In the race to succeed 87-year-old Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who was elected to a fifth term in 2020 before announcing his retirement in February, Republicans will need to go to the polls again.

Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) outpolled T.W. Shannon by 26 percentage points in the Republican primary but fell short of  winning 50 percent of the vote in the 10-candidate field to avoid an Aug. 23 runoff.

With 92 percent of the tally counted, Mullin had 155,969 votes, or 43.6 percent of the total, to second-place Shannon’s 62,696 ballots, which amounted to just 17.5 percent, but good enough to get him to the runoff.

The winner will take on former Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Okla.), who represented the state’s 5th Congressional District in 2019 and 2020. She faced no opposition in the Democratic primary.

Oklahoma’s junior Republican senator,. James Lankford, easily swept past pastor Jackson Lahmeyer, who’d been endorsed in his primary by Mike Lindell and Gen. Michael Flynn.

The Associated Press called Lankford the winner with just 8 percent of the vote counted and the incumbent holding a 72–22 percent advantage.

Lankford will be heavily favored in November to defeat the winner of an Aug. 23 runoff between Madison Horn, a cybersecurity executive, and Jason Bollinger, a former U.S. State Department  employee, who finished first and second, respectively, in a six-candidate Democratic primary but failed to accrue 50 percent of the vote.

As projected, Gov. Kevin Stitt brushed aside three challengers in his Republican gubernatorial primary, capturing nearly 70 percent of the vote.

Stitt will seek a second term in November against Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, who switched parties last year to run as a Democrat. She defeated Connie Johnson in the Democratic primary.

Mississippi

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell unseated five-term incumbent Palazzo by winning the runoff rematch of their June 7 GOP primary in the state’s 3rd Congressional District.

With 95 percent of the vote tallied, Ezell had 30,196 votes, or 53.8 percent, to Palazzo’s 25,928, or 46.2 percent.

While Palazzo is under investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics for potentially violating campaign finance laws, Ezell’s win is a bit of an upset, considering he raised and spent half the money the incumbent’s campaign did.

In another Mississippi congressional district where an incumbent was challenged from within party ranks, Rep. Michael Guest easily outpolled U.S. Navy veteran Michael Cassidy in their runoff.

Guest, who voted in favor of forming the Jan. 6 committee, had more than 41,100 votes to Cassidy’s 20,264, with 95 percent of the vote tallied, doubling the challenger’s ballots and advancing to November’s general election.

South Carolina

State Rep. Krystle Matthews defeated author and preservationist Catherine Fleming Bruce in their runoff to secure the Democratic Party’s nod in challenging incumbent Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) in November.

Matthews outpolled Bruce despite the release of a Project Veritas audio recording of a February phone call in which Matthews can be heard strategizing on utilizing Democrat “sleepers” to run as Republicans in local elections, and requesting drug money from a Perry Correctional Institution inmate.

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The 2022 primary racesfor Illinois governor turned out to be one of the most expensive in the nation. A campaign sign for billionaire incumbent J.B. Pritzker is seen outside a early voting location in Chicago, IL on June 24, 2022. (Cara Ding/The Epoch Times)

Illinois

Voters picked party candidates for 17 U.S. House seats, while Republicans selected Kathy Salvi to challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IIl.), and Darren Bailey to take on incumbent Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker in November.

Bailey, a “downstate” pro-Trump conservative state senator and staunch critic of pandemic mandates, captured nearly 60 percent of the vote, with 60 percent of the tally counted, in his three-way GOP gubernatorial race.

He easily outpaced venture capitalist and first-time candidate Jesse Sullivan and Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, neither of whom had garnered more than 15 percent. Pritzker didn’t face a competitive primary.

In the GOP U.S. Senate primary, Salvi, an attorney from Mundelein, emerged from a seven-candidate scrum to advance to November’s general election against Duckworth, who was unopposed in her party’s primary and is the odds-on favorite to win a second term in November.

In 2006, Salvi lost a six-candidate GOP primary bid for Congress and survived being labeled “the establishment pick” by several of her opponents—most notably Navy veteran Peggy Hubbard, who campaigned as “the Washington elite’s worst nightmare” and finished second on June 28.

Among the state’s 17 U.S. House seats, The Cook Political Report rates five in Democratic-leaning districts as winnable for Republican candidates in 2022.

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A voter fills out his ballot in Palos Hills, Ill., on June 28, 2022. (Cara Ding/The Epoch Times)

In the newly refashioned 15th Congressional District, Trump-endorsed Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.) cruised past Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) in a post-2020 census clash of redistricted GOP incumbents.

Davis incurred Trump’s enmity when he supported the creation of an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 protest, a panel which never convened. He didn’t, however, back the House committee now probing the Capitol attack. Miller won Trump’s nod, which included his attending a June 25 rally on her behalf.

With more than 84 percent of the tally counted, Miller held a 25-point edge over Davis, who had represented the 13th Congressional District since 2013 but was denied a sixth term in the district by post-census remapping.

In the 13th District Republican primary to succeed Davis, educator and small business owner Regan Deering was neck-and-neck with Jesse Reising, founder of the Warrior-Scholar Project and a former federal prosecutor. The two were separated by 1.5 percent, with 65 percent of the vote tallied.

The winner will face Nikki Budzinski, a former union organizer and former chief of staff of the Office of Management and Budget in the Biden administration, who easily won the Democratic primary for the 13th District.

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Campaign signs are seen outside of a polling location in Palos Hills, IL on primary day on June 28, 2022. (Cara Ding/The Epoch Times)

In the 17th Congressional District, redrawn to annex more Democratic-leaning urban centers into the district, meteorologist Eric Sorensen won the Democratic primary and, in November, will face Esther Joy King, a real estate lawyer and former U.S. Army captain who easily captured the GOP nod in the party’s primary.

Sorensen and King will battle for the seat being vacated by the retirement of five-term Democratic incumbent Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.).

In another matchup of incumbents fostered by redistricting, two-term Rep. Sean Casten (D-Ill.) defeated first-term Rep. Marie Newman (D-Ill.) in the 6th Congressional District Democratic primary. Casten will face GOP primary winner, Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau in November.

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Lauren Boebert, now representative-elect, speaks to supporters during a campaign rally in Colona, Colo., on Oct. 10, 2020. (Jason Connolly/AFP via Getty Images)

Colorado

In a prickly purple state where the rural-urban divide is a significant factor, three congressional races were drawing national attention, most notably the 3rd Congressional District, where Trump-endorsed Republican incumbent Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) convincingly defended her seat, sweeping past rancher and state Sen. Don Coram in the district’s GOP primary.

In the state’s 7th Congressional District, Erik Aadland, an Iraq/Afghanistan combat veteran awarded the Bronze Star for valor, edged economist Tim Reichert and 2020 Republican National Convention delegate Laurel Imer to win the GOP nod. He will take on state Sen. Brittany Pettersen in November’s general election.

In the newly created 8th Congressional District, state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer edged three rivals in the Republican primary to advance to the general election against state Rep. Yadira Caraveo, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Utah

All four of the state’s incumbent Republican U.S. House representatives were challenged by party rivals but survived their primaries to advance to November contests as overwhelming favorites.

In the 1st Congressional District, Moore captured nearly 60 percent of the tally to outpace Andrew Badger and Tina Cannon easily. Moore voted twice to keep Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as Republican House conference chair and supported bipartisan legislation to form the commission to investigate the Jan. 6 protest at the U.S. Capitol.

Five-term Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) crushed Erin Rider in the 2nd Congressional District Republican primary. Reps. John Curtis (R-Utah) and Burgess Owens (R-Utah) also won their primaries in routs.

In the GOP primary for U.S. Senator, incumbent Republican Sen. Mike Lee tallied twice as many votes as challenger Becky Edwards. Lee is a virtual lock to win a third term in November.

After the June 28 elections, 29 states will have completed inter-party rounds leading up to fall’s 2022 midterm elections.

The primary pace slackens in July, with only Maryland on the docket, before picking up in August. Of the 19 states with primaries still on tap—Louisiana and Rhode Island don’t have primaries—15 will stage them between Aug. 2 and Aug. 23.

John Haughey
John Haughey has been a working journalist since 1978 with an extensive background in local government, state legislatures, and growth and development. A graduate of the University of Wyoming, he is a Navy veteran who fought fires at sea during three deployments aboard USS Constellation. He’s been a reporter for daily newspapers in California, Washington, Wyoming, New York, and Florida; a staff writer for Manhattan-based business trade publications.