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Here are five takeaways from last night's primaries and runoffs

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.
by Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann /
Image: Georgia Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Stacey Abrams Holds Primary Night Event In Atlanta
Seven-year-olds Karys, from left, and Maddie, from right, play with campaign signs during the primary election night event for Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams in Atlanta, Georgia on May 22, 2018.Jessica McGowan / Getty Images

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WASHINGTON — We saw five big storylines emerge from last night’s primaries and runoffs in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas.

1. It was another big night for Democratic female candidates

Not only did Stacey Abrams (in the primary for Georgia governor) and Lizzie Fletcher (in the TX-7 runoff) win their female-vs.-female races, but Amy McGrath beat Jim Gray in the KY-6 race; Lupe Valdez won the gubernatorial runoff in Texas; and Gina Ortiz Jones will be the Dem nominee in the competitive TX-23 general election. What’s more, women won the Democratic nominations in GA-6 and GA-7. The only notable races where female candidates came up short were in TX-21 (where better-funded Joseph Kopser beat Mary Wilson) and TX-32 (where Colin Allred defeated Lillian Salerno).

2. Democrats look stronger in Georgia than they did in 2014. But will that be strong enough for the fall?

Approximately 50,000 more Republicans participated in last night’s GOP gubernatorial primary than in the Democratic primary (608,000 to 553,000). By comparison, nearly 300,000 more Republicans voted in the competitive 2014 Senate primaries (605,000 to 329,000). Maybe the best news for Stacey Abrams is that the GOP gubernatorial contest will go to a runoff between Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp, since neither surpassed 50 percent. That runoff takes place two months from now on July 24.

3. Houston-area Democrats picked the establishment choice over the progressive

The DCCC’s preferred candidate, Lizzie Fletcher easily beat insurgent Laura Moser, 67 percent to 33 percent, suggesting that last week’s progressive upset in NE-2 was the exception rather than the rule. And when you think about it, was the Kara Eastman’s win over moderate Brad Ashford in NE-2 about ideology? Or gender? So far this cycle, we’ve noticed that, when all things are equal, female Democratic candidates are beating male candidates in one-on-one races.

4. The pro-Bernie Sanders group Our Revolution continues to lose more races

Not only did Moser lose in TX-7, but Our Revolution’s other pick in Texas — Rick Trevino in TX-23 — got trounced by Gina Ortiz Jones. The group did back Stacey Abrams in Georgia, but so did almost every other national Democratic group.

5. Democrats are running candidates with fascinating biographies

Amy McGrath, the retired Marine lieutenant colonel fighter pilot who beat Lexington Mayor Jim Gray last night, has the chance to be a real star if she wins in November. And as ABC notes, McGrath isn’t the only woman from last night with an interesting biography.

“A former Marine fighter pilot and mother of three is the nominee for a House seat in Kentucky. A former Air Force intelligence officer and the daughter of a Filipina-American immigrant [Ortiz Jones] got the Democratic nod for a top-target House seat in Texas. Georgia’s race for governor will feature a candidate [Abrams] who would be the first black woman to be governor of any state.” Additionally, Lupe Valdez is the first Latina and the first openly gay person nominated for Texas governor by a major party. By the way, McGrath’s victory over Gray is the reason why parties SHOULD WANT primaries; the competition makes a candidate stronger.

Trump, allies continue to act in bad faith regarding Russia probe

One of the clear giveaways in the entire Russia investigation has been to compare how Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee have behaved (in a bipartisan, cautious manner) with how the Trump White House and House Republicans have behaved (usually in bad faith).

The latest example of Trump and his allies acting in bad faith: Two House GOP lawmakers — but no Democrats — will get a classified briefing on that FBI source. “Just two Republican lawmakers will be allowed to review classified information about a confidential FBI source who aided the investigation into the Trump campaign at a meeting Thursday with Justice Department and intelligence officials, the White House said Tuesday,” the Washington Post writes. “Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced at a White House press briefing that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) would be the only two lawmakers at the meeting, which would also include FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Ed O’Callaghan.”

More: “‘To my knowledge, the Democrats have not requested that information, so I would refer you back to them on why they would consider themselves randomly invited to see something they’ve never asked to,’ Sanders said.”

If you’re acting in bad faith, it’s hard to take you seriously or credibly.

And speaking of acting in bad faith, here are Trump’s tweets this morning regarding the news that the FBI had an informant speak with 2016 Trump campaign officials as part of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation.

“Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State. They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before! What goes around, comes around!” Trump tweeted, adding: “SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!”

Michael Cohen’s business partner agrees to cooperate with the government

NBC’s Tom Winter: “A business partner of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen has agreed to cooperate with the government as part of a plea deal, according to a person with direct knowledge of the proceedings.”

“Evgeny Freidman, 47, who is known as the Taxi King, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a low-level felony in Albany County Court, in upstate New York, for stealing nearly $5 million in state taxes and has agreed to cooperate in state or federal investigations. The deal, in which he will pay the state $5 million but avoid jail time, was first reported in The New York Times.”

Greitens is airing TV ads in Missouri, and that’s a nightmare for the GOP

“Embattled Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has purchased at least $185,000 in television ads — set to begin airing this week — in a year when he is not on the ballot,” the Kansas City Star says. “Greitens posted the ad to his personal Facebook page Tuesday afternoon. ‘Court documents prove the fake news paid thousands for allegations against Greitens, a liberal St. Louis prosecutor funded by George Soros pressed charges and Democrat leadership orchestrated the false attacks,’ the ad claims.” Here’s the TV ad.

This is a nightmare for the GOP, especially when Democrats are airing their own TV ads linking Greitens to Senate candidate Josh Hawley.

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