In St. Louis, Cori Bush, a progressive activist, will try again to unseat William Lacy Clay, a 20-year incumbent. Joe Arpaio, the immigration hard-liner, is trying to reclaim his job as a sheriff in Arizona.
Polls have now closed in a smattering of elections across the country that will provide a snapshot of the nation’s mood and be a harbinger of things to come this fall for Democrats and Republicans alike.
In one, President Trump is sagging in the polls, his ineffectual handling of the coronavirus and incendiary response to racial justice protests having alienated a large segment of the country.
Yet in the other America, the one where Republican primary voters will go to the polls this week in Kansas and Tennessee, Mr. Trump is not toxic at all. In fact, his endorsement amounts to a political seal of good housekeeping.
The Senate primaries in those states for seats held by two retiring Republicans have, like G.O.P. contests elsewhere, evolved into tests of who’s most supportive of Mr. Trump and critical of his intraparty opponents. Never mind that the president could be on his way out of office when the would-be senators are sworn in next year.
The president has not endorsed a candidate in Kansas, where establishment-aligned Republicans are petrified that the polarizing former secretary of state Kris Kobach may claim the nomination and imperil an otherwise safe Republican Senate seat.
But Mr. Kobach and two of his main rivals — Representative Roger Marshall and the plumbing executive Bob Hamilton — are all embracing Mr. Trump in their advertising and vowing to support his policies.
In Tennessee, which holds its primary on Thursday, Bill Hagerty, a private equity executive who served as finance chairman for Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, is running on his endorsement from the president. Mr. Hagerty helped exorcise his ties to Mr. Romney by supporting Mr. Trump in the 2016 general election and serving as his ambassador to Japan.
His upstart challenger, Manny Sethi, an orthopedist who teaches at Vanderbilt University, is trying to upset Mr. Hagerty by pledging his loyalty to Mr. Trump and relentlessly highlighting Mr. Hagerty’s relationship with Mr. Romney, who is in his first term as a Utah senator. Mr. Romney, the only Senate Republican who voted to remove Mr. Trump from office during impeachment, is now something of a dirty word in Republican primaries.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, Representative Rashida Tlaib is facing a tough Democratic primary in Michigan; a bitter House battle in St. Louis is unfolding between a Justice Democrats-backed upstart and a longtime Democratic incumbent; and Joe Arpaio, the 88-year-old immigration hard-liner and former sheriff of Maricopa County, is asking Arizona voters to return him to that office.
The Department of Homeland Security is moving to “rapidly” replace the uniforms of tactical border agents who prompted widespread criticism for detaining demonstrators in Portland, Ore., in military-style apparel.
Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the department’s acting deputy secretary, submitted prepared remarks to a Senate committee on Tuesday that said the department would move to change the uniforms of the Customs and Border Protection agents who responded to the unrest surrounding a federal courthouse in Portland.
Some agents from BORTAC, the Border Patrol’s equivalent of a S.W.A.T. team, were captured in videos detaining people off the sidewalk and placing them into unmarked vehicles, spurring investigations from the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security. Officials from the Pentagon have also expressed concern over the public mistaking the agents for members of the military.
“We want a system where people can tell the difference” between the federal agents who are patrolling streets and military troops who are not, Jonathan Hoffman, a chief Defense Department spokesman, said last month.
Mr. Cuccinelli argued in his remarks to a Senate judiciary subcommittee that the department’s agents were not unidentified, citing the word “POLICE” and an agency logo on their uniforms. He said that the agents did not have names displayed because of fear they would be doxxed. But some senators said that was not distinguishable enough.
Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon, displayed a poster with an image of the camouflaged agents next to a photograph of a “right-wing militia group.” He said any insignia on the uniforms was not clearly visible.
“They have no unique identifier,” Mr. Merkley said. “These features, officers with no identity attacking protesters, sweeping somebody into unmarked vans, are the features for secret police tactics from around the world.”
President Trump, who only a day ago suggested he could restrict voting by mail through executive fiat, reversed course on Tuesday, urging his supporters in Florida to request mail-in ballots as some polls show him trailing in the pandemic-racked battleground state.
“Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “Florida’s Voting system has been cleaned up (we defeated Democrats attempts at change), so in Florida I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail!”
Mr. Trump’s caustic public denunciation of the mail-in voting system has chafed many Republicans who see his statements as likely to cost him support among older voters, many of whom may rely on mail-in ballots to avoid going to polling stations during the pandemic. Senator Rick Scott, Republican of Florida, and other party leaders have said mail-in voting can work as long as anti-fraud measures are in place.
Campaign officials have recently warned the president that efforts to block mail-in voting in Florida, with its large population of older voters, could have especially dire consequences, according to two Republicans familiar with the situation.
In a press briefing at the White House on Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Trump explained that his position on mail-in voting depended on the competence of state officials.
“Over a long period of time, they’ve been able to get the absentee ballots done extremely professionally. Florida is different from other states,” Mr. Trump said, noting that the state had a Republican governor. He tried to differentiate between Florida and Nevada, where he insisted officials would be indiscriminate about letting people vote. (Nevada’s governor is a Democrat.)
Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, said Wednesday that the president’s tweet about Florida mail-in voting was meant to encourage voters to file “absentee ballots,” not to expand the practice more broadly; Democrats have said that it is a distinction without a difference.
Mr. Trump was asked on Monday if he had the authority to draft an executive order to prevent states from widening the use of alternative voting methods despite the fact that the Constitution vests control of voting procedures with the states.
“I have the right to do it,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “We haven’t got there yet, but we’ll see what happens.”
For months, the president has been claiming without evidence that voting by mail will encourage widespread voter fraud, even as Democrats and some Republicans press to loosen restrictions in order to protect voters from the coronavirus.
In recent weeks, under a Trump campaign megadonor who was recently named the postmaster general, the Postal Service has cut back on overtime pay, prompting delays in deliveries and raising concerns that a similar slowdown this fall could affect the timing and integrity of election results.
On Tuesday, Mark Dimondstein, the president of the union that represents 200,000 postal workers and retirees, said the president’s claims about voting by mail and his suggestion that the election could be delayed had put the country on “a dangerous path toward dictatorship.” Since 2000, “more than 250 million votes have been cast by mail, including 31 million in the 2018 election, virtually absent of fraud,” Mr. Dimondstein added.
Even if Michigan’s primary election Tuesday wasn’t plagued by the long lines that hampered other states in 2020, there still are a number of things that keep Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson up at night.
“First, just preparing for November,” she said in a call with reporters Tuesday night. “Next, how many otherwise valid votes will be rejected because of significant increases in absentee voting.”
Ballots that are postmarked by Election Day but aren’t delivered to local clerks until after the election must be rejected. In Michigan’s March presidential primary election, 4,683 ballots were rejected for that reason. And she expects that there will be even more thrown out later this week when clerks receive tardy ballots from the U.S. Postal Service.
A record number of Michigan voters — more than 1.6 million — chose the absentee ballot route for Tuesday’s election. But 2,065,411 requested absentee ballots. It’s not clear if the gap was because of late mail service or people who chose not to cast their ballots.
But in a battleground state like Michigan, where the 2016 presidential election was decided in Mr. Trump’s favor by the narrow margin of 10,704 votes, Ms. Benson said it’s critical that all votes be counted.
She said there were a number of things that the federal and state governments could do to make it easier to run elections: The federal government should provide up to $15 million more in funding to pay for things like additional high speed tabulators for absentee ballots and fully fund the U.S. Postal Service to ensure timely delivery of the mail; the State Legislature should pass laws that would allow clerks to begin processing absentee ballots before Election Day and allow absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day to be counted.
“In November, we’ll have potentially three million ballots sent through the mail,” she said. “And we’ve essentially reached the limits of our system.”
While in-person voting went smoothly in Michigan, the surge in absentee voting will most likely result in delayed results, Ms. Benson said, as local clerks continue to count ballots through the night and into the day Wednesday.
“None of us want to be the last state to report our results in November,” she said.
Representative Rashida Tlaib marked her first day in Congress in January 2019 with an expletive-fueled call to impeach Mr. Trump. It made her an instant Democratic star as she became part of the four-member Squad, the group of progressive Democratic women who were elected to the House in 2018 and have come to embody the vanguard of the party’s liberal grass-roots energy.
While popular with the Democratic base, Ms. Tlaib’s broadside didn’t win her many friends in the party’s House leadership, which held off impeachment proceedings for months before allowing them to begin last fall.
It also fueled whispers back home in Detroit that Ms. Tlaib, a Palestinian-American who was one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, was more eager to advance a national profile and fund-raising network than she was in representing her predominantly Black district.
Now the most endangered member of the group, Ms. Tlaib faces a rematch with Brenda Jones, the Detroit City Council president she defeated in the 2018 primary. (In a separate contest held the same day, Ms. Jones eked out a two-point victory over Ms. Tlaib in a special primary election to serve out the remainder of the long-serving Representative John Conyers’s term after his abrupt resignation.)
Ms. Jones has now regrouped to challenge Ms. Tlaib, arguing that she has become too preoccupied with national issues.
Ms. Tlaib has raised far more money, $3 million, than Ms. Jones, who posted just $165,000 in her latest Federal Election Commission report.
And while she has emerged as one of the Democratic Party’s most muscular disrupters, Ms. Tlaib retained the endorsement last week of its most significant establishment figure: Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Kansas has not sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since the 1930s. But for months, Republicans in Washington and in the state have feared that if Mr. Kobach wins the party’s Senate primary, a traditionally safe seat will be endangered — and so will the Senate majority.
Mr. Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state, is an incendiary figure in state politics, known for his hard-line views on immigration and voting rights, and his 2018 loss in the governor’s race to Laura Kelly, a Democrat.
Top Senate Republicans, long wary of Mr. Kobach and his 2018 performance, have pleaded with Mr. Trump to endorse Representative Roger Marshall, whom they see as the strongest general election candidate in a crowded field. But the president has remained on the sidelines, stoking tensions between Senate Republicans and the White House.
The winner of Tuesday’s primary is expected to face Barbara Bollier, a Democratic state senator who was until recently a Republican herself.
A statewide race remains a challenge in Kansas for any Democrat, regardless of the Republican nominee. But as Mr. Trump’s faltering approval ratings have endangered Republican candidates in down-ballot races across the country, there is a growing sense that the outcome even in deep-red Kansas is no sure bet.
An increasingly bitter Democratic primary in St. Louis between the activist Cori Bush and Representative William Lacy Clay, a 20-year incumbent with the party establishment’s full backing, will be one of the most significant tests this summer of the power of the resurgent progressive wing of the party.
Mr. Clay and his father, a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, have held the seat in Congress for more than 50 years, and the congressman had routinely sailed to re-election until Ms. Bush challenged him in 2018.
He prevailed then by about 20 points, and this time around, Mr. Clay wants to make a show of blunting the progressive movement against primary incumbents like himself.
If Mr. Clay loses, he would be the first Black congressman to fall to a challenger backed by the Justice Democrats, a progressive national group that helped fuel the rise of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. So far, the long-serving House members, like Eliot L. Engel and Joseph Crowley in New York, who Justice Democrats-backed candidates have succeeded in upsetting have all been white, in many cases representing racially diverse districts.
Ms. Bush, an activist who jumped into the political arena after the police shooting of Michael Brown six years ago, responded in a recent interview with The Times to Mr. Clay calling her a “prop” for the Justice Democrats.
“I had no title, no name, came out of the Ferguson uprising and people know who I am across the world,” Ms. Bush said. “Not because I took money from some group — none of that. It is because I stayed true to a message of change for real people.”
Four years and two electoral defeats since he last held office, Joe Arpaio is asking Republicans in Maricopa County, Ariz., to return him to his former role as sheriff of the state’s largest jurisdiction.
But Mr. Arpaio, 88, is no longer the towering local figure who had forced inmates to wear pink underwear, castigated illegal immigration and who, well after former President Barack Obama left office, continued insisting the 44th president wasn’t born in Hawaii.
Mr. Arpaio lost a 2016 re-election bid to Paul Penzone, a Democrat, then finished a distant third in the state’s 2018 Senate primary, winning just one of the state’s 15 counties. His comeback bid, like his Senate race, is fueled more by his name recognition and repeated attempts to tie himself to Mr. Trump than it is by any sense of how he would run the sheriff’s office.
Now, Mr. Arpaio is involved in a three-way race that includes Jerry Sheridan, his former chief deputy. But it is Mr. Penzone, the Democrat, who has the support of the state’s Republican establishment figures, who find Mr. Arpaio’s antics generally embarrassing and hurtful to Arizona’s business climate.
What Republican voters in Phoenix and its suburbs will decide Tuesday is whether the best way to help Mr. Trump carry a key battleground state is by putting one of his most enthusiastic supporters on the ballot — or if the party’s fortunes can be improved without Mr. Arpaio, a candidate guaranteed to mobilize the state’s ascendant Latino population.
Mr. Trump played down the accomplishments of Representative John Lewis, the recently deceased civil rights icon, and criticized him for not attending the Trump inauguration in January 2017.
The comments from Mr. Trump, in an interview with “Axios on HBO” that aired Monday night, were unsurprising, given his penchant for grievance. But they were nonetheless stunning for the degree to which Mr. Trump refused to view Mr. Lewis’s life and legacy in terms beyond how it related to Mr. Trump himself.
“I never met John Lewis, actually,” Mr. Trump said. “He didn’t come to my inauguration. He didn’t come to my State of the Union speeches, and that’s OK. That’s his right.”
Asked to reflect on Mr. Lewis’s contributions to the civil rights movement, Mr. Trump instead talked up his own record.
“Again, nobody has done more for Black Americans than I have,” he said. “He should have come. I think he made a big mistake.”
Senator Kamala Harris of California, a Democrat being seriously considered as a former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s running mate, said Mr. Trump’s comments proved he was “petty” and unfit to serve.
“There’s nothing about Donald Trump that is generous; he’s generous to himself, but he has no generosity toward an icon, a hero who has been described as a saint, John Lewis, or the American people, quite frankly,” she said in an interview with MSNBC on Tuesday.
Mr. Trump declined to say whether he found Mr. Lewis’s life story “impressive.” He seemed indifferent to renaming the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., after the congressman. The bridge, named after a former Confederate general, Grand Dragon in the K.K.K. and senator, was the site of a turning point in the civil rights movement that became known as Bloody Sunday.
On that day, March 7, 1965, Mr. Lewis suffered a cracked skull during a march across the bridge when a state trooper clubbed him and beat him to the ground. The moment was a defining one in his life and in the civil rights movement. Mr. Trump, in the Axios interview, suggested there “were many others also” whose work should be praised.
Election integrity experts told Congress on Tuesday that without an immediate, substantial infusion of federal funds to help administer November’s general election, many voters — particularly Black and other minority voters — could be disenfranchised.
“With less than three months until the November election, Congress must act now so states have enough time to make the necessary changes and plans, recruit and train workers, buy equipment, and do outreach to the public about new voting processes,” Sylvia Albert, the director of voting and elections at Common Cause, said in written testimony to a subcommittee of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
Primary elections around the country this year — plagued with long lines, polling place closures and high rates of ballot rejection — have exposed “significant barriers to voting for certain individuals, especially Black and brown voters,” Ms. Albert said in her written testimony.
“Longstanding disparities, including long lines, the ballot rejection rates, particularly of Black and brown communities, are now exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said Tuesday. “The chasm of those with access is growing larger. Voters of color are on the losing end.”
Several states, including Georgia, Pennsylvania and Indiana, saw voting machine glitches and other failures that contributed to long waits.
“Without proper funding, the problems seen in previous elections are going to be just the tip of the iceberg this November,” she testified.
David Levine, an elections integrity fellow with the Alliance for Securing Democracy, told the panel that many states and counties lacked the resources needed to offer alternatives for safe and secure elections amid the pandemic, like “robust voting by mail, early voting, and Election Day options.”
The stimulus law enacted in March provided $400 million to states for administering elections, but one study said the need was 10 times that. In May, the Democratic-controlled House passed another pandemic relief bill that would provide $3.6 billion in additional election funding, but that plan has run into a brick wall in the Senate, where there is little appetite among Republicans for such spending.
The dispute is one of the issues fueling a stalemate between the White House and congressional Democrats on a sweeping economic recovery package. Mr. Trump has cast doubt on the idea of expanding mail-in voting to make it safer for Americans to cast ballots during the pandemic, saying that it would lead to widespread fraud. But there is no evidence that the practice leads to higher incidence of voter fraud.
We’re here today to celebrate the passage of truly landmark legislation that will preserve America’s majestic natural wonders, priceless historic treasures, and that’s exactly what they are. President Theodore Roosevelt was right when he called these exquisite resources the most glorious heritage a people ever receive. We want every American child to have access to pristine outdoor spaces. When young Americans experience the breathtaking beauty of the Grand Canyon, when their eyes widen in amazement as Old Faithful bursts into the sky, when they gaze upon Yosemite’s — Yosemite’s towering sequoias, their love of country grows stronger and they know that every American has truly a duty to preserve this wondrous inheritance.
At a signing of the Great American Outdoors Act, the president appeared not to recognize the word “Yosemite” in his prepared text, pronouncing it instead “Yo Semites.”
The latest verbal miscue by Mr. Trump came as he and his campaign have repeatedly seized on verbal gaffes by his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., and sought to portray Mr. Biden as senile.
And Yosemite National Park in California, which Mr. Trump was trying to reference, is a federal treasure that presidents have often highlighted.
Before he signed the act into law, Mr. Trump talked about young Americans looking at “the breathtaking beauty of the Grand Canyon,” before moving on in his script.
“When they gaze upon Yo Semites — Yo Seminites — towering sequoias, their love of country grows stronger,” Mr. Trump said.
The original sponsor of the bill was Representative John Lewis, the late civil rights icon from Georgia, of whom Mr. Trump was dismissive in an interview with “Axios on HBO.”
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged President Trump on Tuesday to sign legislation to rename 10 United States Army bases bearing Confederate generals and added her support for taking down statues of rebel commanders and other figures from the secessionist, pro-slavery movement.
Ms. Rice, the first African-American woman to serve as the nation’s top diplomat, spoke out during the opening session of the annual Aspen Security Forum when asked about Mr. Trump’s response to the protests for racial justice since the police killing of George Floyd in May.
“I actually don’t know why anybody wants to defend the Confederacy and Confederate monuments,” Ms. Rice said during the online forum. “This glorification of people with military bases named after military officers who tried to destroy the country, I don’t get it.”
Mr. Trump has defended flying the Confederate flag as “freedom of speech” and threatened to veto a defense authorization bill that includes a bipartisan provision calling for the renaming of bases like Fort Bragg, Fort Hood and Fort Benning. Asked if he should sign it, Ms. Rice said, “Absolutely,” adding, “I can think of better names than Confederate generals for our bases.”
At the same time, she said the move to dismantle monuments can be taken too far, referring to protesters’ calls to remove memorials in Washington and Boston showing Abraham Lincoln standing over a liberated slave in a way critics consider degrading.
Ms. Rice’s position reflects an evolution in her thinking. Just three years ago, during a book tour, she said she supported lowering the Confederate flag over Southern capitals but opposed taking down statues.
Mr. Gohmert’s daughter Caroline Brooks, a singer who performs under the stage name BELLSAINT, tweeted a tempered rebuke of her father (and a less measured takedown of the president) shortly after the cantankerously mask-averse Texas congressman announced last week that he had been infected with the coronavirus.
“This has been a heartbreaking battle bc I love my dad and don’t want him to die,” Ms. Brooks said on Twitter. “Please please listen to medical experts. It’s not worth following a president who has no remorse for leading his followers to an early grave.”
Mr. Gohmert has frequently refused to wear a mask in the Capitol. He says he has no symptoms and suspects he was infected, contrary to the available evidence on transmission, during one of the few times he chose to wear a mask.
Ms. Pelosi, who instituted a mask mandate on the floor of the House in response to Mr. Gohmert’s diagnosis, offered a similar assessment to the one Mr. Gohmert’s daughter did.
“I’m so sorry for him,” she told reporters last week. “But I’m also sorry my members, who are concerned, because he has been showing up at meetings without a mask and making a thing of it.”
Reporting was contributed by Peter Baker, Luke Broadwater, Nick Corasaniti, Reid J. Epstein, Nicholas Fandos, Manny Fernandez, Katie Glueck, Kathleen Gray, Maggie Haberman, Zolan Kanno-Youngs,Annie Karni, Jonathan Martin, Jesse McKinley, Giovanni Russonello, Glenn Thrush, Neil Vigdor and Michael Wines.
News – Kris Kobach and Rashida Tlaib Face Tough Primary Fights