Seven states held primaries Tuesday night — South Carolina, Oklahoma, New York, Colorado, Maryland, Mississippi and Utah — and as usual, President Trump loomed over top races for Republicans. But the big news of the night was on the Democratic side, where one a top House Democrat lost his primary in a jaw-dropping upset. Here are Tuesday’s winners and losers.
The Democratic establishment: Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) is one of the highest-ranking Democrats in the House, and he just lost his job to a 28-year-old member of the Democratic Socialists of America.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unseated a congressman thought to be next in line to lead House Democrats who outraised her 10-to-1 in this Bronx and Queens district. Her extraordinary upset of a 20-year veteran of Congress will shake the Democratic Party establishment, as it grapples for unity in its efforts to win back the House of Representatives this November.
Con men: Former Republican congressman Michael Grimm was trying to become the first felon in 90 years to be elected to the House, according to one calculation by Roll Call. He resigned his seat in 2015 to go to jail for seven months for tax evasion. But his attempts to leverage his conviction for outsider street cred in a pro-Trump Staten Island district failed. Grimm lost the Republican primary to the incumbent, Rep. Dan Donovan, who has lobbied to display Trump’s portrait in post offices and got endorsed by Trump.
The Republican Party in Oklahoma: Democrats had no problem nominating someone they think is a strong candidate, former Oklahoma attorney general Drew Edmondson, for Oklahoma’s open governor’s race. While he starts campaigning, Republicans will have to muddle through another two months of a runoff since none of the 10 Republican candidates for the open seat won a majority of the vote. The Republican winner of that August runoff will have to then work to shake the outgoing governor’s extreme unpopularity. Democrats have had some stunning state legislative victories in Oklahoma this election cycle, so don’t rule out a competitive governor’s race here.
Liberals, especially newcomers: Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t the only unabashed progressive and/or newcomer to politics to win big Tuesday. In Maryland, former NAACP president Ben Jealous, who had the backing of the Bernie Sanders coalition, won the Democratic Party’s extremely competitive primary to challenge Gov. Larry Hogan (R), beating a politician with the backing of the state’s entire Democratic establishment. In Syracuse, N.Y., liberal professor Dana Balter won the Democratic nomination to challenge GOP Rep. John Katko despite national Democrats’ efforts to boost the other candidate, Juanita Perez Williams.
In Colorado, Rep. Jared Polis (D), a liberal member of Congress trying to be the first openly gay man to be governor in America, won the Democratic nomination for that state’s open governor’s race. And in New York, newcomer Adem Bunkeddeko came close to unseating veteran Democratic congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, an impressive feat.
Trump: For the second time this month, Trump demonstrated he’s got sway over voters in South Carolina. In the state’s June 12 primary, a tweet from the president helped end the career of GOP congressman Mark Sanford.
On Tuesday, Trump helped the state’s governor, Henry McMaster, win a runoff against businessman John Warren. McMaster has struggled to shake the label as a corrupt establishment politician and personally lobbied for Trump to hold a South Carolina rally for him the night before the election. As rambling and unfocused as Trump’s rally was, it may have helped McMaster handily win his runoff. GOP analysts were predicting the runoff would be close; McMaster won by more than five points.
Trump: No, that’s not a typo. Trump was a clear winner across the country in Utah, too. There, Mitt Romney won the Republican nomination for an open Senate seat — which, in Utah, is often a bigger hurdle than the actual general election. But Romney got there only after minimizing his criticism of Trump. He went from warning his party that a Trump presidency would “greatly” diminish America’s future, to writing an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune a few days ago that declared “the first year of [Trump’s] administration has exceeded my expectations.”
Trump tweeted his approval Wednesday morning.
Medical marijuana: Voters in Oklahoma approved legalizing medical marijuana, despite widespread opposition from state Republicans and faith leaders. That could make Oklahoma the 30th state where medical marijuana is legal, though the ballot question could get sliced and diced by Oklahoma’s Republican politicians if the governor calls a special legislative session to do that, as she has warned.