Trump allies win in South Dakota, lead in Montana midterm primearies By Reuters


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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: US President Donald Trump walks past Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke as he stands to address the 17th annual September 11 observance at the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, US, September 11, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lam

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By Jason Lange and David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump, easily won the Republican nomination to seek reelection in November, while a former member of Trump’s cabinet led in his Montana primary for the US House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Noem, known for her opposition to COVID-19 restrictions, won her primary with 77% of the vote, while former Trump Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke of Montana held a narrow lead as he seeks the party’s nomination to return to Congress.

Progressive Democrats were also being put to the test in a pair of California races, where San Francisco’s district attorney faced a recall attempt and the Los Angeles mayor’s race was a contest between a liberal congresswoman and a real estate developer who was a former Republican.

With President Joe Biden slumping in the polls and soaring inflation souring voters’ moods, Republicans are expected to win control of the House and possibly the Senate, which would bring Biden’s agenda to a halt and give Republicans the power to launch distracting and possibly politically damage investigations.

Just 41% of Americans approve of Biden’s performance as president, near the lowest level of his presidency, according to a Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll on Tuesday.

The poll also showed the Democratic Party and the Republican party were neck-and-neck in voter preferences ahead of the November congressional elections. Thirty-nine percent said they would vote for a Democrat compared to 37% picking a Republican. The difference was well within the poll’s 4 percentage point credibility interval.

Voters in New Jersey, Iowa, Mississippi and New Mexico also cast ballots on Tuesday in nominating contests that will set the competitive field for Nov. 8’s elections.

In Montana, with about 32% of the expected vote counted, Zinke led Al Olszewski, a former Montana state senator, by 44% to 38%, according to Edison Research.

Zinke’s primary came months after an inspector general report accused him of using his position as head of the Interior Department to advance a development project in his hometown and lying to an ethics judge. He has denied wrongdoing.

South Dakota’s Noem beat former state House speaker Steven Haugaard 77% to 23%.

Noem has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential running-mate if Trump seeks election again in 2024 or as a White House candidate in her own right if he does not.

Republicans are favored to easily win the South Dakota governor and Montana House races in November.

HOUSE CHALLENGERS PICKED

Republicans also nominated candidates to take on embattled House Democrats, setting the stage for contests that will help determine control of that chamber.

New Jersey Republican Tom Kean Jr. His party’s nomination won to challenge embattled Democratic Representative Tom Malinowski in November, as voters cast ballots in primary elections across seven US states, according to Edison Research.

Kean, the son of popular two-time Governor Thomas Kean, had more than 45% of the vote, far ahead of any of his field of rivals. Malinowski, who is viewed as one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the country, also secured his renomination.

“I am both humbled and fully committed to flipping this seat in November,” Kean said in a tweet after winning his primary.

In Iowa, former state Senator Zach Nunn outpaced two other Republicans to seize the party nomination to challenge embattled Democratic Representative Cindy Axne.

Nunn, the only Republican contender who has held an elective office, boasts a string of endorsements from high-profile party luminaries including Trump’s former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and several sitting House Republicans.

CALIFORNIA SHAKEOUT

Two California races also illustrate liberal-leaning voters’ frustrations with spikes in homicides and gun violence.

Polls show that San Francisco’s progressive district attorney, Chesa Boudin, is likely to be pushed out of office in a recall vote. A replacement would be chosen by the city’s mayor, London Breed, a Democrat who has criticized Boudin but has not taken a stance on the recall.

In Los Angeles, Rick Caruso, a billionaire developer and former Republican, is battling US Representative Karen Bass and a host of other liberal candidates in the mayoral election.

Caruso, who has spent more than $30 million of his own money in the campaign, made crime the centerpiece of his candidacy in a city that saw homicides reach a 15-year high in 2021. That forced Bass, a longtime progressive champion in Congress, to move to the center and pledge to put more police on the streets. Caruso and Bass could be headed to a runoff, polls show.



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