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Winners, losers and lessons from Tuesday’s elections

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.

If it’s WEDNESDAY… Biden White House and congressional Republicans make progress in debt-ceiling talks, but remain apart on key issues… President Biden departs for G-7 meeting in Japan, but cuts trip short to return to Washington on Sunday… Daniel Cameron wins Republican primary for KY-GOV, setting up 2023’s biggest election… Cherelle Parker captures Democratic mayoral primary in Philadelphia, putting her on course to become city’s first female mayor… And Democrat wins mayoral runoff in swing Jacksonville, Fla.

But FIRST… Yesterday, we asked five questions about Tuesday’s primaries and elections across the country, and now we have our answers. 

In Kentucky’s GOP gubernatorial primary, which force would be stronger: Daniel Cameron’s Trump endorsement and his ties to the state (as attorney general)? Or rival Kelly Craft’s big bucks and Trump-y campaign?

Well, Cameron easily won, getting 48% of the vote, while Craft finished third (at 17%) — behind Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles at 22%. 

Also in Kentucky, we asked if election-denying candidates could topple the incumbent GOP secretary of state. 

The answer: No. Incumbent Michael Adams, who had expanded voter access and pushed back on false election claims, got 64% of the vote. 

For Philadelphia’s Democratic mayoral primary, we wondered if progressives would win like they did in Chicago, or if more moderate candidates would triumph — given how crime has affected big cities like Philly. 

The result: Former City Councilwoman Cherelle Parker, who called for hiring additional police officers and was endorsed by Dem Reps. Brendan Boyle and Dwight Evans, won with 33% of the vote. Helen Gym, who was backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, finished third with 21%. 

Also in Pennsylvania, we highlighted a special state House election that could decide control of that chamber. The outcome: Democrats won, maintaining their narrow majority. 

And in Florida, we asked how the political winds might be blowing in swing Duval County with Jacksonville, Fla.’s mayoral runoff. 

Well, Democrat Donna Deegan beat Republican Daniel Davis, succeeding term-limited GOP Mayor Lenny Curry. 

Jacksonville HAD been the country’s most-populous city with a GOP mayor. That honor will now go to Fort Worth, Texas.

Data Download: The number of the day is … $4.3 million

That’s by how much the groups backing Kentucky Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron (his campaign and aligned super PAC) were outspent in the state’s gubernatorial primary, according to the ad tracking firm AdImpact. 

While Cameron won Tuesday night’s primary, he wasn’t the top spender — by a longshot. Former Trump U.N. Ambassador Kelly Craft and a super PAC boosting her candidacy, Commonwealth PAC, spent a combined $8.1 million on the airwaves compared to the $3.8 million spent on ads by the pro-Cameron groups.  

Craft, who loaned her campaign more than $9 million (per campaign finance reports), wasn’t the only big-spending candidate who fell short on Tuesday. Former city councilman and real estate developer Allan Domb, who largely self-funded his campaign, appears poised to come in a distant fourth place in the Democratic primary for mayor in Philadelphia. His campaign spent nearly $8.7 million on ads, far outpacing the other candidates. 

Other numbers to know

30: The number of North Carolina state Senate Republicans who voted Tuesday to override the governor’s veto of an abortion ban after 12 weeks. 

400%: The increase in threats against members of Congress in the last six years, Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger told lawmakers at a hearing Tuesday. 

14: The number of House Republicans urging Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to cancel the Senate’s upcoming recess until there is a deal to address the debt ceiling.

5: The number of Republican lawmakers who signed a pledge in 2021 not to use earmarks and have now requested money for local projects in the fiscal year 2024 budget, The Messenger reports.

24%: The portion of Americans who say they used to follow a different religion than they do now, a 50% increase in people who said the same in 2021, Axios reports.  

57%: The portion of Republican and Republican leaning adults who say that healthy children should be required to be vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella (the MMR vaccine) to attend public schools, per new data from the Pew Research Center, down from 79% in 2019 and 2016. 

More than 6,400: The number of migrants processed and released into the U.S. without court dates between Thursday and Monday, when a judge halted this practice.

6 points: President Joe Biden’s lead over former President Donald Trump in a hypothetical matchup, according to a new online Reuters/Ipsos poll. 

Headline of the day

Eyes on 2024: Tuesday wasn’t DeSantis’ night

While May is expected to be an exciting month for Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, with a presidential bid imminent, Tuesday’s election results didn’t provide him with much good news.  

DeSantis’ pick in the Jacksonville mayoral runoff, Republican Daniel Davis, lost as Democrats flipped the mayorship. And in Kentucky, Republican Kelly Craft, the former U.N. ambassador whom DeSantis backed, lost too.

 The Republican governor didn’t exactly go all out for either candidate — NBC News’ Matt Dixon writes that in Jacksonville, “DeSantis did not do events with Davis or put his political muscle behind his candidacy,” and DeSantis’ endorsement of Craft came in the race’s final days.

But in both races, DeSantis sided with the losing candidate. And the Kentucky endorsement isn’t the first time the Florida governor has weighed into a race last minute, choosing to go against a heavy favorite (DeSantis indirectly backed Harmeet Dillon’s Republican National Committee chair bid in that race’s final days, shortly before Dillon lost convincingly to Ronna McDaniel). 

So while the “Trump defeats DeSantis in Kentucky” headlines might be a bit overblown, it’s a headline DeSantis walked into — again — with a last minute bet on a losing horse.

In other campaign news … 

Some sunny news for DeSantis: The top two Republicans in the Florida state legislature, House Speaker Paul Renner and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, said Tuesday that they were backing DeSantis’ expected presidential bid. NBC News’ Dixon writes that the endorsements are “expected to unleash a wave of public endorsements” from the Florida legislature for the governor, while Dixon, Natasha Korecki and Henry J. Gomez report on how the governor is expanding his inner circle ahead of his bid.  

Border politics: DeSantis announced Tuesday that he is sending a combined 1,100 National Guard troops and state law enforcement agents to Texas to assist at the southern border with Mexico. 

Shameless support for Biden: NBC News’ Mike Memoli reports that the pro-Biden super PAC Unite the Country has launched a new television ad narrated by actress Emmy Rossum (who starred in the television show "Shameless) that frames Biden as the defender of Americans’ freedoms on issues like abortion rights, same-sex marriage, and to escape “crippling debt.” 

Let’s get digital: The Penn Program’s Andrew Arenge, who has also worked with NBC News’ elections unit, spots that Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s PAC has started running digital ads in some early primary states as Suarez weighs a run for president.

Grand Canyon State divide: The outside group End Citizens United/Let America Vote, which backs candidates who support a campaign finance overhaul, announced Tuesday it is endorsing Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego in the Arizona Senate race, per a press release. And the Messenger reports that Arizona Democrats are frustrated that national Democrats have not pledged to support the party’s nominee, with Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema not yet announcing if she’s running for re-election.

Re-run time: Two Democrats who lost 2022 House races announced Tuesday that they’re running again in 2024: attorney Will Rollins, who lost to GOP Rep. Ken Calvert last year, and Michelle Vallejo, who lost to GOP Rep. Monica de la Cruz.

Going for gold: Former Olympic figure skater Sarah Hughes, who won a gold medal in 2002, filed to run as a Democrat against Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, R-N.Y.

Santos saga: Democrats moved to force a vote to expel embattled Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., per NBC News’ Capitol Hill team. Rep. Robert Garcia, D-Calif., introduced a privileged resolution to expel Santos, but it would need support from two-thirds of the House to pass.  

Debt fight continues on the airwaves: Outside groups continue to hit members of Congress on the burgeoning debt ceiling fight, this time with Courage for America launching a new TV ad featuring a veteran criticizing Virginia Republican Rep. Jennifer Kiggans’s vote for the GOP debt ceiling bill. 

An upset in Colorado Springs: Yemi Mobolade will become the first Black elected mayor in Colorado Springs after the unaffiliated candidate beat a Republican in the runoff in the city despite its Republican lean.

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world 

The Secret Service is investigating how an intruder was able to enter National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan’s home a few weeks ago.

The man accused of attacking two congressional staffers in Rep.Gerry Connolly’s office with a bat refused to appear at his arraignment Tuesday.