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Three things to watch in today’s Trump-fueled primaries in South Carolina

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.
Rep. Nancy Mace stands on the House steps after a vote at the Capitol on April 28, 2022.
Rep. Nancy Mace stands on the House steps after a vote at the Capitol on April 28, 2022.Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call via AP

WASHINGTON — If it’s Tuesday ... It’s Primary Day in South Carolina, Nevada, Maine and North Dakota. ... It’s also Special Election Day in Texas-34. ... Former AG William Barr testifies on Donald Trump’s 2020 election lies: “He’s become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff.” ... Trump releases 12-page statement in response to Jan. 6 committee. ... The NRSC goes on the attack again in North Carolina Senate. ... And President Biden addresses the AFL-CIO convention in Philadelphia. 

But first: Three things stand out about today’s Republican primaries in South Carolina, where Donald Trump is working to defeat two incumbent GOP members of Congress — Reps. Tom Rice and Nancy Mace. 

One, they’re taking place after this past week’s televised Jan. 6 hearings where we’ve heard Trump team members admit that the former president lost the 2020 election and was told he lost; explain that his fraud allegations were B.S.; and state that Trump has “become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff.” 

So the races are fascinating real-time experiments to gauge, in part, if any of these revelations are seeping through to rank-and-file GOP primary voters. 

Two, Rice — who was one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump — has fought back against Trump, which differs from how Mace has still tried to embrace the former president (like filming a video outside of Trump Tower). 

“I’ve delivered jobs, higher wages and less poverty,” Rice says in one of his TV ads. “Let’s put progress over pettiness. Let’s put results over revenge.”

As Politico notes, the race between Rice and state Rep. Russell Fry (whom Trump has endorsed) is the first time this election season where a GOP House member who voted for impeachment is facing a Trump-backed primary challenger. 

And three, Mace’s primary contest — where she’s facing a challenge from defeated 2018 candidate Katie Arrington (whom Trump supports) — will test how Trump’s “Revenge Tour” plays in states and districts where previous efforts have backfired. (Unlike Rice, Mace didn’t vote to impeach Trump, but she criticized the former president’s conduct after the election and voted to certify the election results.)

Remember, in 2018, Trump backed Arrington over then-incumbent Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., and Arrington and the GOP ended up losing the seat. Until Mace won it back in 2020.  

Oh, and keep this in mind, especially when it comes to Rice’s race (where five other candidates are running besides the incumbent and Fry): There’s a June 28 runoff if no candidate surpasses 50 percent of the vote. 

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Data Download: The number of the day is … 13

That’s the number of Republican candidates that Trump has endorsed who are running in Tuesday’s primaries. 

In addition to those running against Rice and Mace, he’s also endorsed Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo in Nevada’s gubernatorial race and former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt for U.S. Senate. The rest of those endorsements are incumbents who are all heavily favored to win. 

Other numbers to know:

108: The number of candidates for statewide office or Congress who have repeated Trump’s lies about the 2020 election and have won their primaries so far, per a Washington Post analysis. 

235 million: How many people in America are expected to experience temperatures of at least 90 degrees this week. 

2: The number of times in a span of less than a month that Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra tested positive for Covid, most recently on Monday

3.9 percent: The amount the S&P 500 dropped Monday, falling to its lowest since March 2021.

0.75 percentage points: The possible interest rate hike that could come as soon as this week, CNBC reports.  

Midterm roundup: What happens in Vegas

Nevada will also host a number of interesting primaries tonight, including in each of the state’s four congressional districts. The state is also hosting three competitive GOP statewide contests:

Nevada Governor: Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak is a top GOP target this cycle, with a crowded field of Republicans competing to challenge him. Trump has endorsed Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, and the other top candidates include former U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, North Vegas Mayor John Lee, venture capitalist Guy Nohra, and attorney and former boxer Joey Gilbert, who has been endorsed by the state GOP. 

Nevada Senate: Trump’s endorsement will also be tested in the Senate GOP primary, where he’s backed former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt. Trump and his allies have made a final effort to bolster Laxalt, who co-chaired Trump’s 2020 campaign in Nevada and led the effort to challenge the state’s election results. Laxalt is facing a tougher-than-expected primary challenge from retired Army Capt. Sam Brown, who has pitched himself as a political outsider.

Nevada Secretary of State: While term-limited Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske defended the state’s election in 2020 (earning a censure from the state party’s central committee), top candidate has spread lies about the 2020 results. The race appears to be largely between former Assemblyman Jim Marchant and former state Sen. and businessman Jesse Haw. Marchant is the president of the America First Secretary of State Coalition, a group of secretary candidates who echo lies about the 2020 election. 

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Colorado Senate: Democratic Colorado, the group that’s trying to meddle in the state’s Republican primary, is booking more advertising time, per AdImpact, to the tune of about $1 million. Joe O’Dea, one of the Republican frontrunners, is up with a new Spanish-language bio spot touting his work in business. 

Pennsylvania Senate: Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has reserved $293,000 worth of airtime, per AdImpact. Brendan McPhillips, who ran President Biden’s Pennsylvania operation and ran Fetterman’s unsuccessful 2016 Senate campaign, is joining Fetterman’s Senate run as campaign manager

Washington Senate: Democratic Sen. Patty Murray is already up with a new ad attacking Republican Tiffany Smiley, before the state’s primary, throwing the kitchen sink at her possible opponent — evoking the Jan. 6 attack, warning a vote for her is “risking women’s reproductive health care” and could make Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., majority leader. A Democratic outside group, Future Majority PAC is booking $860,000 in ad time through the beginning of July. 

Florida Governor: State Sen. Annette Taddeo is backing former Governor and current Rep. Charlie Crist’s gubernatorial campaign, a week after she bowed out of the primary to run for Congress (the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ BOLD PAC backed Taddeo’s congressional campaign Monday). 

California-40: GOP Rep. Young Kim advanced from last week’s Top 2 primary, fending off a challenge from her right.

New York-17: The Working Families Party is bucking Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and endorsing state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi instead, Politico reports.

Ad watch: The NRSC’s latest attack in North Carolina Senate 

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is launching another ad offensive against Democrat Cheri Beasley in North Carolina, once again highlighting her past rulings as a state Supreme Court justice. 

The new ad, shared exclusively with NBC News, is part of a $1.7 million television buy and it’s the third round of NRSC ads attacking Beasley, the first Black woman to serve as chief justice of the state Supreme Court, as she faces GOP Rep. Ted Budd in the open Senate race. 

“In stopping crime and holding criminals accountable, Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley has failed us,” a narrator says in the 30-second ad. The spot highlights three of the court’s past rulings, reducing the complex cases to seconds-long soundbites. 

The ad comes after multiple TV stations pulled an NRSC ad off the airwaves earlier this month for making false statements about some of Beasley’s past rulings. Last week, an attorney for the one TV station to do so wrote that the decision to pull the ad was “prematurely sent” to Democratic lawyers. 

Read more about the ad and the rulings referenced in the spot on the Meet the Press Blog

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world 

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed a new law that reduces the training required for teachers to carry guns in schools — from 700 hours to less than 24 — in response to concerns about school safety after a spate of recent mass shootings. 

Senators are racing to draft gun legislation with the goal of passing the bill next week. 

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed additional abortion protections into law.