The latest round of primaries in the United States 2020 election cycle ended on Tuesday night with another establishment Democrat surviving a challenge from the progressive wing of the party and a Republican incumbent losing to a challenger from his right flank.
The results of primaries in Colorado, Utah and Oklahoma arrived as the outcomes of other state primaries, which had been slowed by the counting of mail-in ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic, emerged. The congressional elections on November 3 will decide the makeup of the US legislature as the country also decides who its president will be.
Most notably, in Colorado, former Governor John Hickenlooper shrugged off a series of campaign stumbles to win the state Democratic Senate nomination, setting up a much-anticipated showdown with Republican Senator Cory Gardner when voters go to the polls in November.
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Gardner, who is in his first term, is closely aligned with President Donald Trump and is considered one of the more vulnerable legislators in the Senate currently up for re-election. Republicans currently hold a 53-seat majority in the body, while Democrats and two independents who caucus with Democrats, make up the rest. Thirty-five seats in the chamber will be up for grabs in the 2020 Election.
Hickenlooper, who was recruited by the Democratic establishment to run for the vulnerable seat and who trounced his more progressive primary opponent, vowed victory at the ballot box in four months.
“I’ve never lost an election in this state and I don’t intend to lose this one,” he said in a video address following the victory.
The win comes as delayed results for Kentucky’s Democratic Senate nomination were announced, with moderate Amy McGrath holding off a challenge from state legislator Charles Booker, whose more progressive campaign saw a late surge in support.
McGrath will now challenge powerful Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell for his seat.
House race upsets
In Colorado, Republican Representative Scott Tipton, who was backed by Trump, suffered an unexpected loss to restaurateur and gun rights activist Lauren Boebert, who ran to the right of Tipton.
Boebert, who has spoken positively about the pro-Trump conspiracy movement, QAnon, which says “deep-state” traitors are plotting against the president and which is considered a “terrorist” threat by the FBI, will face off against Democratic nominee Diane Mitch, a former state legislator who lost to Tipton in 2018 by eight points.
Good morning Colorado—who’s ready to flip the Senate? https://t.co/tqX9p5kSXG
— John Hickenlooper (@Hickenlooper) July 1, 2020
The upset, which is largely seen to increase Mitch’s chances of victory in November, makes Tipton the fourth incumbent in the House to lose their seat in a primary race during this cycle, according to the FiveThirtyEight news website.
Democrats currently hold the House with 233 seats to the 197 held by Republicans. All 435 seats will be up for election in November.
Republicans were also closely watching who would rise to challenge Democratic Representatives Ben McAdams of Utah and Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, whose seats in districts won by Trump in 2016 also are considered endangered.
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In Utah, former National Football League player Burgess Owens won the Republican primary to take on McAdams, while in Oklahoma, the winner will be determined in an August 25 runoff as no candidate managed to secure 50 percent of the vote.
Meanwhile, the results of closely watched Democratic House primaries in New York, which saw a surge in more progressive challengers, remain outstanding as mail-in ballots are counted. Officials have said some ballots will not be counted until after the July 4 holiday weekend.
Also, in a significant outcome in Tuesday’s vote, Oklahoma narrowly passed a measure to extend Medicaid, a government healthcare programme, to tens of thousands of poor residents.
The state is the first in the US to expand the government-backed insurance amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen millions of Americans lose health insurance through their employers. It had previously been just one of 14 states that had not expanded the programme under former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare plan, the Affordable Care Act, according to Politico.
Republicans have long sought to curtail the safety-net programme, with Oklahoma’s Republican governor arguing the state could not afford the expansion. The vote also goes against Trump, who had planned to make Oklahoma the first state to be granted his approval to cap the programme.