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Washington’s top 2 primary could shut out Trump-backed candidates

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. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., on the steps of the Capitol on June 16, 2022.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., on the steps of the Capitol on June 16, 2022.Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call via AP

WASHINGTON — If it’s Thursday ... Kari Lake continues to lead Karrin Taylor Robson by 12,000 votes in the “too close to call” Arizona Republican gubernatorial contest. ... It’s Primary Day in Tennessee (yes, on a Thursday). ... President Biden hosts virtual roundtable event to promote Inflation Reduction Act. ... Tragedy in Indiana: Car crash kills Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., and two top staffers. ... And Hungary’s Viktor Orban addresses CPAC in Texas.

But first: Two primaries in Washington state still haven’t been called, and they might end up producing some of the more revealing results from Tuesday’s contests across the country. 

Due in large part to how the state conducts its primaries. 

In Washington’s 3rd Congressional District with 70% of the vote in, Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez is at 32%, incumbent GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (who voted for Donald Trump’s impeachment) is at nearly 24% and Republican Joe Kent (endorsed by Trump) is at nearly 21%. 

In Washington’s 4th Congressional District with 56% of the vote in, incumbent GOP Rep. Dan Newhouse (who also voted for Trump’s impeachment) is at 27%, Democrat Doug White is at 26% and Republican Loren Culp (backed by Trump) is at 21%. 

What’s noteworthy about Washington state is that the Top 2 primary candidates, regardless of party, advance to the general election, which means — if these current results stand — both of Trump’s candidates would get shut out, while Herrera Beutler and Newhouse would survive. 

(NBC News has projected Democrat Gluesenkamp Perez advancing to the general in WA-3, but has not called who else would advance in both contests.)

If these results hold, Herrera Beutler and Newhouse would join Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif., as being the only House Republican impeachers to survive their primaries. (Valadao, however, didn’t have a Trump-backed primary challenger.)

And that would underscore how Top 2 primaries (like we see in California and Washington state) or Top 4 ones (like in Alaska, which holds its primary and at-large congressional special later this month) have become antidotes to far-right (and potentially far-left) primary candidates.

Under those systems, you advance in the primary — and win the general — by having crossover appeal. 

Instead of how most primaries operate, where you win by getting support from the most committed Republican or Democratic voters. 

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … $102 billion

That’s the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the net deficit decrease over 10 years in the new Democratic reconciliation agreement, also called the Inflation Reduction Act, per reporting from NBC’s Frank Thorp V

Thorp also adds that Democrats point to another $203 billion in reductions from policies aimed at additional IRS enforcement, but those lie outside the CBO’s estimate. 

Other numbers to know: 

1: The number of U.S. senators (being only Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.) who voted against a resolution to ratify Finland and Sweden joining NATO.

7: The percentage point advantage Democrats have on the generic congressional ballot in a new Monmouth University poll.

1.1 million: How many doses of the monkeypox vaccine the U.S. government is distributing, which is less than the 3.5 million experts estimate are needed to fight the virus, per the New York Times.

50%: That’s how much the number of Latino Republicans in Congress could increase after the midterms, per Politico.

Over 1,000: The number of threats against election workers the Justice Department investigated over the last year.  

Midterm roundup: Running in Memphis

Tuesday’s elections aren’t the only primaries this week. Voters are also heading to the polls today in Tennessee, where the main contest to watch is a crowded GOP primary for a newly drawn House seat. 

The GOP-controlled legislature divided up Nashville into three districts, prompting Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper to retire and opening up the 5th District, which now favors Republicans. The primary has seen some drama, including the state party removing Trump-backed Morgan Ortagus, a former State Department spokeswoman, and other candidates from the ballot. Ortagus went on to advise retired Brig. Gen Kurt Winstead in the primary. 

Winstead is the top fundraiser in the GOP primary, followed by former state House Speaker Beth Harwell, and Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles. The race has seen some outside spending, with two groups, USA Freedom Fund and School Freedom Fund, which has ties to the Club for Growth, launching ads against Harwell. Another group, Conservative Americans PAC, has launched anti-Ogles ads.

State Sen. Heidi Campbell is the only Democratic running, but she faces an uphill climb in the new 5th District. The Cook Political Report rates the race Solid Republican

Three Democrats are also competing in Tuesday’s primary to take on GOP Gov. Bill Lee. But Lee is favored to win re-election in the GOP-leaning state. 

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Arizona Senate: Newly minted Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters is placing a new $650,000 ad buy over the next 11 days, per AdImpact. 

Pennsylvania Senate: The Philadelphia Inquirer digs into Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s finances, including how family money helped to support him during his career. 

Georgia Senate: Republican Herschel Walker agreed to participate in a Senate debate hosted by Nexstar Media Group, which is not one of the debates Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock had previously agreed to. 

Arizona Governor: Democratic gubernatorial nominee Katie Hobbs is up with a new ad promising accountability, to protect abortion access, “fix our schools and lower costs.” Meanwhile, the Republican Governors Association is running a spot criticizing Hobbs on border security, and another linking it to human trafficking

Florida Governor: Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried’s first ad hits her Democratic primary opponent, Rep. Charlie Crist, for appointing a state Supreme Court justice who sided with conservatives on key issues, per NBC News’ Marc Caputo

Wisconsin Governor: After hesitating about backing former President Trump in 2024, Trump-backed Tim Michels tweeted that he would “proudly endorse” Trump in 2024 if he runs

Arizona-01: NBC News’ Decision Desk projects that Republican Rep. Dave Schweikert has survived his contentious primary challenge. 

Arizona-02: The Decision Desk also projects that Eli Crane, the former Navy SEAL backed by Trump, won his primary and will take on Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran.

Ad watch: Beasley goes after Republicans and Democrats

In North Carolina’s Senate race, Democrat Cheri Beasley is out with an ad attacking Republican and Democratic members of Congress for trading stocks while in office.

“Get this — 64 members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, have broken a law to stop insider stock trading, yet Washington refuses to do anything about it,” Beasley tells viewers.

“Let’s ban members of Congress from trading stocks altogether. Senators should be working for you, not themselves,” she adds.

Beasley is running in a competitive open seat race (the non-partisan Cook Political Report rates the race “Lean Republican”) and this is her second ad where she distances herself from both parties. Recently, members of both parties have been supportive of banning representatives from trading stocks.  

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world 

The lawyers for Alex Jones, the Infowars founder who has repeatedly spread conspiracy theories, accidentally released Jones’ emails, texts and financial information

Advocates are criticizing new Biden administration reports on long Covid.

A federal grand jury investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol has subpoenaed Pat Cipollone, Trump’s former White House counsel.