IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The 2022 primary season winds down with three big days in August

First Read is your briefing from “Meet the Press” and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska outside the Senate Chambers in the Capitol on July 21, 2022.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska outside the Senate Chambers in the Capitol on July 21, 2022.Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images

WASHINGTON —  If it’s Monday ... the W.H. physician says President Biden’s Covid symptoms are improving. ... Biden delivers virtual remarks to the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. ... The Jan. 6 committee weighs subpoenaing Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. ... Treasury Sec. Yellen admits U.S. economy is slowing down, but contends it’s not a recession. ... Average gas prices fall below $4.40 per gallon. ... Tom Perez concedes to Wes Moore in Maryland Governor. ... And Tom Nelson drops out of the Wisconsin Senate race and endorses Mandela Barnes.

But first: Now that Maryland’s primaries are over — NBC News on Friday projected Wes Moore the winner in the Democratic race for governor — we now turn to the three big primary days left on the 2022 calendar. 

On Aug. 2, we’ll see primaries in:

  • Arizona (featuring Trump-backed Kari Lake vs. Karrin Taylor Robson in Arizona Governor, plus the Trump-backed Blake Masters vs. Jim Lamon and Mark Brnovich in Arizona Senate). 
  • Michigan (the GOP race to take on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, as well as the Democratic member-vs.-member race in Michigan-11, and the Trump-backed primary against GOP Rep. Peter Meijer in Michigan-03).
  • Missouri (spotlighting the crowded field of Republicans running for Senate).
  • Washington (where two GOP House members who voted for Trump’s impeachment — Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse — are receiving Trump-backed challenges).
  • Aug. 2 is also the date of that constitutional amendment contest on abortion in Kansas. 

On Aug. 9, we’ll get:

  • The Democratic race in Wisconsin for the right to challenge Republican Sen. Ron Johnson.
  • The GOP contest in Wisconsin to challenge Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
  • Intraparty clashes in Connecticut, Minnesota and Vermont. 

And on Aug. 16, we’ll see:  

  • GOP Rep. Liz Cheney’s primary in Wyoming.
  • GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s primary in Alaska;
  • Ranked-choice special general election for Alaska’s at-large congressional (where Sarah Palin and Nick Begich III are running).  

Of course, those aren’t the only states with primaries — Tennessee goes on Aug. 4; Florida and New York (congressional) go on Aug. 23; and New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island go in September.  

But they’re the big ones. 

Tweet of the day

 Data Download: The number of the day is … $4.36

That’s the average price of a gallon of regular, unleaded gas in America, per AAA. It’s a decline of 55 cents in the last month, and 16 cents in the last week, as gas prices continue to dip from a spike that eclipsed $5 a gallon in June. 

Averages are even under $4 in a handful of states, including Texas and parts of the Sunbelt. But western states are still dealing with the highest prices in the country, including average prices of $5.14 in Nevada, $5.12 in Washington and $5.17 in Oregon. Nevada is home to pivotal Senate and gubernatorial elections in the fall, while Republicans are hoping that the political winds can make the Senate election in Washington and the gubernatorial election in Oregon competitive.

Other numbers to know:

17: The number of people determined to be close contacts of Biden, who tested positive for Covid last week. 

4,500: The estimated number of workers who have lost access to assistance that helps workers who lose their jobs to globalization and trade, after the assistance program expired this month.

150,000: Approximately how many indigenous people were taken from their families in Canada between the 1800s and 1970s and forced into state-funded Christian schools aimed at assimilating them. Pope Francis is in Canada this week where he’s scheduled to give a speech apologizing for that and other abuses that took place. 

300,000: The number of ballots from the 2020 Tarrant County, Texas Republican primary in 2020 that a conservative citizens’ group are quietly reviewing, per new reporting from Votebeat

14%: The share of people who use insulin who said in a new poll they spent a “catastrophic” amount on it — at least 40% of their income after paying for essentials like food and housing — per a new study

Midterm roundup: Maryland gets ready for Moore

One day after NBC News’ Decision Desk projected author and nonprofit leader Wes Moore won the Democratic primary for governor, Moore’s chief rival, former Labor Secretary and DNC Chairman Tom Perez, conceded.

“Now is the time for us to unite, and I look forward to aggressively working with them to flip Maryland blue this November,” Perez said in a Saturday statement after it became clear that he could not overcome Moore’s margin of victory even as more mail-in ballots were counted.

Maryland is one of Democrats’ best pickup opportunities, and prognosticators shifted the race in their favor even before the Democratic nominee was clear — thanks to far-right state Del. Dan Cox winning the GOP primary. The Cook Political Report moved the race from Lean Democrat to Solid Democrat, while Inside Elections shifted its race rating from Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Missouri Senate: Former Trump White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, now the GOP gubernatorial nominee in Arkansas, is endorsing Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s Senate bid

Wisconsin Senate: Democratic Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson has dropped his Senate bid and is endorsing Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.

Arizona Governor: Kari Lake and Karrin Taylor Robson’s gubernatorial primary has focused on both candidates trying to portray the other one as a Republican In Name Only

Georgia Governor: Democrat Stacey Abrams is pushing back on attacks from GOP Gov. Brian Kemp that she is anti-police, NBC News’ Janelle Griffith reports.

Florida Governor: Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is booking her first ad buy, a $624,000 flight that runs the final week before the state’s Aug. 23 primary election, per AdImpact

Texas Governor: Democrat Beto O’Rourke’s massive fundraising have made some in his party optimistic about his chances of defeating GOP Gov. Greg Abbott, even as others worry it’ll lead to another letdown in a state where Democrats have struggled to get over the hump, NBC’s Henry Gomez reports. 

Wisconsin Governor: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has seven takeaways from Sunday’s GOP gubernatorial debate, the first time Trump-backed businessman Tim Michels, former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and state Rep. Tim Ramthun faced off on stage. 

Michigan-11: Politico and the Forward report on how massive spending from AIPAC’s super PAC has roiled the Democratic primary between Reps. Haley Stevens and Andy Levin. 

North Carolina-11: The Daily Beast reports that GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who lost his primary earlier this year, is late to file his quarterly campaign finance report and that his campaign illegally spent money that was earmarked for if Cawthorn had made it to the general election. 

Ad watch: Herrera Beutler goes on the offensive

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., is going on offense in a new ad on health care as she faces challenger Joe Kent ahead of Washington’s Aug. 2 primary. 

In a new ad from Herrera Beutler’s campaign, a narrator alleges Kent plans to “dramatically cut Social Security and raise the retirement age,” and privatize Social Security. 

It’s a line of attack often lobbed at Republicans from Democrats, particularly in light of Republican-sponsored bills that have been introduced in the last decade that would transform Medicare from the system most seniors use today. Herrera Beutler supported at least one of those bills, which would have effectively created a voucher system in place of today’s Medicare program.

Kent, who has earned an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, is the leading challenger among a field of Republicans hoping to unseat Herrera Beutler. She drew ire from Trump and other Republicans when she voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. 

Washington is a “Top 2” state, meaning after the primary, the Top 2 vote-getters, regardless of party, will advance to November’s general election.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world 

The New York Times reports on how a handful of conservative county politicians have been dragging their heels on certifying elections this cycle. 

Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon was found guilty on two counts of contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol.