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Kris Kobach loses Kansas Senate Republican primary to Rep. Roger Marshall

In Missouri, Democratic Rep. Lacy Clay lost his primary to progressive challenger Cori Bush.
Image: Kris Kobach
Kris Kobach talks with reporters at his primary watch party in Leavenworth, Kan., on Tuesday. Orlin Wagner / AP

Rep. Roger Marshall, backed by establishment Republicans, won the GOP primary for a U.S. Senate seat in Kansas, defeating former secretary of state and polarizing conservative Kris Kobach and several others in a crowded field.

Marshall and Kobach were among the 11 candidates in the GOP primary running for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Pat Roberts.

In an upset, Missouri Democratic Rep. Lacy Clay has apparently lost to progressive Cori Bush in his primary. Clay, who was elected to his seat in 2000, defeated Bush in the 2018 Democratic primary. With all precincts counted, Bush held a 3-point lead over the incumbent, 48.6 percent to 45.5 percent.

Bush is an ordained pastor and community activist who was involved in the 2014 Ferguson protests following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer.

The contest was seen as one of the biggest progressive vs. establishment Democrat clashes left on the primary calendar.

Kobach, the former Republican secretary of state of Kansas who lost his bid for governor in 2018, was running with the help of a Democrat-linked group and without the blessing of GOP party leaders.

Rep. Roger Marshall speaks with supporters at his election night party on Tuesday.Travis Heying / The Wichita Eagle via AP

Marshall was been endorsed by Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Roberts, among other senior party leaders.

President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday morning applauding Marshall's victory and said that he was not the candidate Democrats wanted to compete against.

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Roberts announced in January 2019 that he would not seek re-election in 2020.

Marshall on Tuesday night thanked supporters and said he was truly humbled, according to a live stream of the event on the representative's Facebook page.

He called it a "tough, tough primary race" but said the focus should be on keeping the seat in Republican control in the general election.

"We have to be one team here," Marshall told supporters. "And you will find that we have way more in common than what divides us."

"I've always believed in this iron sharpening iron," he said, "and boy I'll tell you what: After this primary our swords are sharp."

The race raised alarm among Republicans who feared that if a polarizing candidate like Kobach won the primary he could lose in November, putting their Senate majority at risk. Kobach has long been an anti immigration hawk and headed President Donald Trump’s task force on voting fraud that was disbanded in 2018.

Marshall will face Democrat Barbara Bollier, a state senator and former Republican, who easily defeated Robert Tillman in the Democratic primary.

Voters headed to the polls on Tuesday in four other states — Michigan, where freshman Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib faced a strong primary challenge, Arizona, Missouri and Washington — in some of the last primaries left on the year's election calendar.

As of shortly before 3 a.m. Wednesday local time, Tlaib's primary had not been called by the AP.

The news agency reported that Tlaib was leading in early returns, but a large number of votes had still not been counted early Wednesday and it was not clear when the result would be known.

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Former Rep. Brenda Jones is running against Tlaib in the primary. Jones, who narrowly lost to Tlaib in 2018, is president of the Detroit city council.

In Arizona, Republican Sen. Martha McSally was projected by the AP to win her primary. She was challenged by Daniel McCarthy for the GOP nomination. McSally was appointed to her seat by Gov. Doug Ducey to finish the term of Sen. Jon Kyl after he resigned. Kyl had been appointed to fill out the term of the late Sen. John McCain.

She will face Democrat and retired astronaut Mark Kelly, who faced only a write-in candidate in his primary, in November. The seat is one that Democrats are hoping to flip in the general election as they try to retake the Senate.