What to Watch in the August 2 and August 4 Primaries
The referendum on abortion rights in Kansas on August 2 is the first major election that will shape reproductive rights since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe vs. Wade. In Arizona and Kansas, candidates with a history of wanting to restrict the vote and denying the results of the 2020 presidential election are running in Republican primaries with Donald Trump’s support. And plenty of other critical offices are on the ballot this week—from one of the year’s most important prosecutor elections in Tennessee to a perplexing GOP primary for governor in Michigan.
Here are 37 races that Bolts is watching on August 2 (in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington), and on August 4 (in Tennessee), as prepared by Daniel Nichanian. More may be added to our cheat sheet through Election Day.
Check back on Election Night as we fill in each result in the second column. And support us to sustain this work.
Trump-endorsed Kari Lake, who jumped into the race after embracing far-right conspiracies and is running as a staunch election denier, faces Karrin Taylor Robson, who has support from Arizona’s conservative establishment, including retiring Governor Doug Ducey. The winner is expected to take on Katie Hobbs, the Democratic secretary of state, in November.
The Republican primary to take on Governor Gretchen Whitmer has taken bizarre turns, including the disqualification of the two GOP front-runners over a fraud scandal. Donald Trump and state conservatives have rallied around Tudor Dixon in the final stretch; one of her opponents has been indicted for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Three Democrats are vying to take on the Republican governor. The Tennessean previews.
Blake Masters has gone all-out on election denialism to secure Donald Trump’s endorsement and a leading position in the primary to take on Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly. Other candidates like Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who also is pushing election conspiracies, are trying to stop him.
Former Governor Eric Greitens, who resigned in 2018 over allegations of coercion, is trying a political comeback but he faces an array of opponents with more establishment support, notably Attorney General Eric Schmitt and U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler.
A very close, and heated, primary as two candidates fight for the Dem. nomination and hope for a shot in the general election in this red state, especially if Greitens grabs the GOP nomination. KCUR previews their contrasts.
|Trudy Busch Valentine|
Republicans have begun pouring money into this race trying to flip Washington’s Senate seat, with Democrat Patty Murray seeking a sixth term. Tuesday’s vote will decide the top two candidates who will face each other in November.
|Top 2: Murray (D) vs. Smiley (R)|
Other statewide elections
|Arizona | Attorney General (GOP)|
The general election will be critical for abortion access, though the Republican candidates are largely on the same page on the issue. In a state where election deniers have been very organized, and where the former president could try to sue to overturn the 2024 election, many of the candidates are sowing doubts about the 2020 election, including the Trump-endorsed Abraham Hamadeh.
|Arizona | Superintendant (GOP)|
Tom Horne, a former superintendent of public instruction who championed a ban on ethnic studies and is now running against bilingual education, is mounting a comeback bid this year and will first have to clear a crowded primary.
|Kansas | Attorney General (GOP)|
Kris Kobach, the former secretary of state and Trump acolyte who pushed for severe voting restrictions in Kansas and nationally, and also traveled the country pushing for local restrictions that largely lost in court while he raked in lawyer’s fees, according to ProPublica’s 2018 investigation,, is now running for attorney general. He faces two primary opponents, Tony Mattivi and Kellie Warren.
Kansans are deciding whether to amend their constitution to state that it does not protect abortion rights, in the first major election where abortion access is on the line since the Dobbs ruling.
|Michigan | Ann Arbor area|
If approved by local voters, a property tax increase would collect roughly $18 million a year for public transit. Michigan Live previews.
Incumbent David Schweikert, hampered by a House reprimand over ethics violations, is running with Trump’s endorsement against primary challenger Elijah Norton, who published a comic book about Schweikert as a supervillain. (Democrats are eying the seat too.)
Peter Meijer, who voted to impeach Trump, faces John Gibbs, who is running with Trump’s endorsement. Gibbs has also been boosted by national Democrats hoping Gibbs’s nomination helps Democrat Hillary Scholten carry the district.
Democrats are choosing between five candidates to set up what’s likely to be one of the fall’s major general election battles in this suburban Detroit district, with significant ideological fault lines between the candidates. Michigan Live and WDET preview.
Incumbents Andy Levin and Haley Stevens face off in this primary that has drawn national attention and funding. Progressives are boosting Levin, while a super PAC set up by AIPAC is significantly helping Stevens, The Washington Post reports.
National progressives are rallying to defend incumbent Rashida Tlaib, a member of the Squad, in her primary against three challengers.
This is an extremely expensive primary, as Shri Thanedar has spent millions of his own money, while the super PAC tied to AIPAC is spending millions on behalf of Adam Hollier, the Detroit News reports.
Incumbent Cori Bush, one of the left’s most prominent members of Congress since her win in 2020, faces a primary challenge from her right from state Senator Steve Roberts, St. Louis Public Radio previews.
National conservatives have rallied behind Senator Eric Burlison, though he faces a crowded primary in this staunchly red district.
|WA-03 (all-party primary)|
Incumbent Jaime Herrera-Beutler, who voted to impeach Trump, now shares a ballot with a large slate of opponents (of both parties). It’s unclear if she’ll make it into the top two, and who will face each other in November. The Seattle Times explains.
|WA-04 and WA-08 (all party)|
Watch to see if the top two runoffs in these districts will be between the two major parties, or if one party gets boxed out.
|Arizona | SD10 (GOP)||Arizona’s GOP Speaker Rusty Bowers has been censured by the state party since he testified in front of the Jan. 6 committee about Trump’s intimidation attempts, and is now running for the state Senate, while Trump endorsed David Farnsworth, a former state senator who has defended the Big Lie.|
|Washington | SD36 (all party)||This open Senate race features the more progressive Noel Frame against Kate Martin, who is running as a more conservative Democrat on issues of criminal justice and taxation, Crosscut previews.|
Many other Seattle-area primaries are revolving around housing, Crosscut also reports.
|Tennessee | Shelby County (general election)|
In one of the state’s largest counties, home to Memphis, Republican DA Amy Weirich faces Democrat Steven Mulroy on Thursday, after renewed attention this year to her office’s punitive practices and allegations of misconduct in the wake of its aggressive prosecution of the case of Pamela Moses. Bolts explains the stakes of the race.
|Arizona | Maricopa County (GOP)|
As Arizona’s biggest county holds a special election, Republican voters will choose their nominee for prosecutor. Among the contenders is appointed incumbent Rachel Mitchell, who gained national prominence in 2018 for questioning Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Bailey Ford in the U.S. Senate. The GOP nominee will face Democrat Julie Gunnigle in November, in an election with major faultines on abortion prosecution and other issues.
|Arizona | Secretary of State (GOP)|
This is a critical position in a key swing state, and the Democratic incumbent isn’t running for re-election. One of the frontrunners, Mark Finchem, is a staunch proponent of the Big Lie running with Trump’s endorsement.
|Arizona | Secretary of State (Dem)|
Democrats are also choosing their nominee for what is sure to be a major fall battle, with lawmaker Reginald Bolding facing former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes.
|Kansas | Secretary of State (GOP)|
Incumbent Scott Schwab is running for re-election against Mike Brown, who has sought to make hay out of right-wing conspiracies over election fraud, the Kansas Reflector reports.
|Washington | Secretary of State (all-party primary)|
Steve Hobbs, a moderate Democrat appointed by Governor Jay Inslee, is now seeking a full term and will be on the ballot with independent Julie Anderson and several Republicans. The primary will decide the top two candidates for November.
|Missouri | Jefferson County Clerk (GOP)|
In a rare contested primary in Missouri for the local office that administers elections, conservative candidate Jeremy Day has talked up election auditing as a major priority as he faces Jeannie Goff.
Other local offices
|Arizona | Fountain Hill mayor|
Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff known for targeting immigrants in of Maricopa County, is running for mayor of the town he lives in.
|Kansas | Johnson County Commission Chair|
In the state’s most populous county, there’s a heated battle to head the county commission, including two conservative election deniers and a climate change advocate, the Kansas City Star previews.
|Michigan | Ann Arbor municipal elections|
Mayor Christopher Taylor and his challenger Anne Bannister have disagreed on many issues dealing with development and affordable housing, Michigan Live reports, with the incumbent pushing for changes that increase density.
And Democratic primaries for city council in Ann Arbor have sparked debates on issues including alternatives to policing and a $15 minimum wage.
|Missouri | St Louis County Executive (Dem)|
Incumbent Sam Page faces a primary challenge from Jane Dueker, who has focused on crime and is backed by the St. Louis police union, St. Louis Public Radio reports.
|Tennessee | Shelby County Juvenile Court Judge (general election)|
In a county plagued by major inequalities in how it treats youth in the criminal legal system, challenger Tarik Sugarmon is focused on reforming the system overseen by incumbent Dan Michael, the Commercial Appeal previews.