Cameron Joseph

Cameron Joseph is Talking Points Memo's senior political correspondent based in Washington, D.C. He covers Capitol Hill, the White House and the permanent campaign. Previous publications include the New York Daily News, Mashable, The Hill and National Journal. He grew up near Chicago and is an irrationally passionate Cubs fan.

Articles by Cameron

MADISON, WI — Gov. Scott Walker (R) and his Democratic detractors have been in a no-holds-barred brawl for eight years now. But there’s one thing the two sides can agree on: This election is Democrats’ best chance to beat him.

Walker’s popularity isn’t what it once was — public polls show he’s never fully recovered from his aborted presidential run, and the polarizing figure’s numbers are underwater for the first time heading into an election. President Trump, who barely carried the state in 2016 and has started trade wars that are hurting some major local industries, isn’t helping him any.

Unlike his last elections, Walker is hoping to survive a political wave rather than surfing one.

Democrats, scarred from three failed efforts to defeat Walker in the state, are feeling an unusual feeling of optimism as they look ahead to the fall with newly minted nominee Tony Evers (D), the head of the state’s Department of Public Instruction and a former teacher.

The battle-tested Walker is the first to admit he’s facing the most challenging in-state campaign of his career.

This is the toughest election I’ve ever faced as governor,” he told TPM after a campaign stop Monday in Platteville, a small town in the state’s far southwest corner across the Mississippi River from Dubuque, Iowa.

Later in the day in Monroe, after being treated to a 10-second yodel and some tasty cheddar cubes from cheese shop owner Tony Zgraggen, Walker expanded on those thoughts.

In 2010, in 2014, nationally the wind was kind of at our back,” he said, before arguing that he successfully framed his 2012 recall election as an issue of fairness and won over moderates. “In this election the national wave is coming at us.”

There are signs that may be true — and that Democrats may finally have a shot at toppling their longtime nemesis.

Early this year, Wisconsin Republicans lost a shocker of a state Senate special election in exurban and rural northwestern Wisconsin that they’d held for nearly two decades. They went on to get blown out in a statewide Supreme Court race, losing by a double-digit margin. They’ve subsequently lost another state senate seat, one in similarly conservative northeastern Wisconsin.

One more major warning sign for Walker came Tuesday night, when roughly 100,000 more Democrats turned to vote in the state’s crowded gubernatorial primary than Republicans turned out for their own hard-fought Senate primary — even though the Senate race saw significantly more ad spending.

Walker has rung the alarm bells, including after the state Supreme Court loss:

Walker has also made some moves since his failed presidential run to signal to voters he’s more interested in results and less in his ideological firebrand image, one forged by his highly controversial dismantling of the state’s public teachers’ unions, passage of right-to-work legislation, a voter identification law, and deep cuts to state education. He recently got a waiver from the Trump administration to help stabilize the state individual health care exchange, essentially shoring up a key piece of Obamacare, and has looked to rehabilitate his image on education. He’s also hopeful that his bringing a large Foxconn plant to southeastern Wisconsin with $4 billion in tax incentives will help, not hurt, him in the fall.

Evers went quickly on the attack, blasting Walker for making deep cuts to the state’s education system, refusing to expand Medicaid, and declining to stand up to Trump on the President’s trade wars — including calls to boycott local company Harley-Davidson.

“If you come after Wisconsin’s businesses you’re going to have to answer to me. Donald Trump will no longer have a doormat here in Wisconsin,” Evers said in his Tuesday night primary victory speech in Madison.

And while he never mentioned Walker’s infamous war to tear down Wisconsin’s public-sector unions, Evers alluded to that divisive push.

“He started his reign of terror with divide and conquer, you’ll remember that,” he said. “I believe that what unites us is stronger than what divides us.”

On Monday, Walker pointed out to TPM that Evers once praised his education budget as “pro-kid.”

“The best testament to our commitment to education comes from Tony Evers,” he said. “If that’s his argument, his own words will be used against him repeatedly.”

The Wisconsin GOP was quick out the gate with a TV ad attacking Evers for failing to strip a disgraced local teacher of his license:

Evers isn’t the most charismatic or polished speaker, though Democrats aren’t sure that’s a negative for him in a year where voters are turned off by Trump’s bombast.

“He doesn’t have that scream into the microphone style. Thank god,” former Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton (D) told TPM. “I want somebody that doesn’t depend on rhetoric.”

But the soft-spoken Walker isn’t the most charismatic politician either, as he proved during his flame-out of a presidential campaign.

The race will undoubtedly be a harsh and expensive one — Walker’s campaigns always are. But after a decade of heartbreak, Democrats are feeling like they might take down their public enemy.

When asked what the odds are that Evers will beat Walker, the soft-spoken Lawton laughed.

“Damn close to 100 percent,” she said.

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Wisconsin state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R) has defeated former Marine Kevin Nicholson (R) for the right to face Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) in an uphill battle this fall.

Vukmir led Nicholson by 54 percent to 40 percent with 56 percent of the vote counted. The Associated Press has called the race.

Vukmir was heavily favored by Wisconsin’s powerful GOP establishment, winning the state party endorsement early on, getting strong support from many of the state’s powerful right-wing talk radio hosts, and winning backing from many elected officials including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). While Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) stayed officially neutral in the race, his son works on Vukmir’s campaign and his wife backed her.

But Nicholson, a former head of the College Democrats of America, had one valuable supporter: Deep-pocketed hard right-wing donor Dick Uihlein spent more than $10 million through super-PACs to back him and knock her down.

She starts her race as a heavy underdog against Baldwin, who has led her by high single digits in most recent private and public polls. Republicans hope that if Walker is winning comfortably this fall this race could become competitive — especially if Uihlein can be convinced to open up his wallet for her, and other wealthy Republicans decide to come in. Right now it looks like a long shot — and national Republicans are unlikely to prioritize the race given how many others appear like better shots for them this fall — but Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) looked like a dead man running at this point in the 2016 campaign before winning reelection.

Vukmir and Baldwin were quick out the gate to attack one another.

“Wisconsin needs a senator who represents and will work for the people who make our state great — not the far left or out-of-touch elites,” Vukmir said in a statement. “Sen. Tammy Baldwin has been a disaster our state.”

Baldwin fired back.

“Wisconsinites want someone who will be in their corner and stand up to powerful special interests in Washington, not a bought-and-paid-for Senator,” Baldwin said in a  statement. “Leah Vukmir has a long record of putting her corporate special interest backers ahead of hardworking Wisconsin families, making the choice clear this November.”

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MADISON, WI — Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers (D) has won his crowded primary, setting up a major clash with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) in the fall.

Evers led an eight-candidate field with 41 percent of the vote, with state firefighters union head Mahlon Mitchell in second place at 22 percent of the vote and 44 percent of precincts reporting as of 10:30 p.m. EST. The Associated Press called the race shortly after 9 p.m.

His victory sets up what Democrats hope is their best chance at defeating Walker since he ascended to the governor’s office in 2010.

The results set off a whoop and chants of “Tony, Tony” at Evers’ victory party, held across the street from Madison’s capitol building — one that’s been at the epicenter of protests and heartbreak for Democrats for the last decade.

Walker took a hit in-state with his presidential run, with numbers that had held steadily at 50-50 for the deeply polarizing figure sliding underwater. Most recent public polling suggests he’s never fully recovered — and in a swing state where President Trump will likely prove a drag.

Evers quickly turned to the general election, flaying Walker for his deep cuts to the state education budget — an area of strength for the state education head and public school teacher — before turning to healthcare and the state’s roads.

“I’ve seen, on the faces of our kids the devastation of Scott Walker’s cuts to public education,” he said. “I’ve watched has Scott Walker has made decision after decision that benefits himself and his wealthy donors, and not what benefits us, the people of Wisconsin.”

Evers’ solid statewide win sets him up well for the general election, and some public and private polls have already shown him ahead — a remarkable position for a challenger to be in before he even secured the primary. But the battle-tested and politically savvy Walker will be a tough out in a state he’s carried three times. And the governor has been preparing for months for what he recognizes will be his toughest statewide race in his career, with $5 million in the bank for the general election, while Evers emerges from the crowded primary with almost no money in the bank.

National Democrats have already committed $4 million to help Evers, but his allies acknowledge that the cash deficit needs to be closed for him to have a shot — and that his shoestring campaign will need to grow rapidly from his current three full-time staffers to compete with Walker’s vaunted machine.

He needs a big infusion of cash right now. This is the reality. This is our reality. Tonight, we’re the launchpad for a winning gubernatorial race in Wisconsin,” former Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton (D) told supporters at Evers’ party.

Evers isn’t exactly the most charismatic candidate — he still sounds like the local school superintendent he once was on the stump, occasionally stumbling over his words, and the most unusual thing about him may be the way his name is pronounced (it rhymes with believers). But Walker isn’t the most telegenic candidate either — and Democrats are banking that their base is so fired up this year that running even-keeled candidates who can appeal to centrists turned off by Trump the GOP to win in big swing states.

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PLATTEVILLE, WI — Mike North, the head of the Wisconsin Dairy Business Association, is enough of a dyed-in-the-wool Republican to spend his Monday morning at a campaign stop for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R). But when asked about how President Trump’s standing might effect his party this year, he immediately expressed concern over Trump’s ongoing trade wars.

The reality is a change in our marketplace has been discomforting for sure, to say the least. There’s a lot of heartburn about where prices are at right now. So that will be something that we’ll have to work through as we come through fall,” North told TPM at a Walker campaign event at Digman Construction, a small company outside small-town Platteville in the state’s rural southwestern corner.

North’s group is nonpartisan, and has endorsed candidates from both parties in the past. He said he thought most Republican-leaning voters are willing to deal with some short-term economic pain to give Trump some time to figure things out, and doesn’t think it’s fair that others who voted for Trump are now unhappy with him doing what he promised to do.

You don’t send a bull into a china shop and hope for a whole plate at the end,” North said.

But North admitted that plunging dairy prices, which have dropped 4 percent this year partly because of Mexico’s retaliatory tariffs on dairy in the trade wars Trump has kicked off, have put farmers in a tough position.

Are we seeing things that we like in the short term? Obviously, lower prices aren’t anything any farmer wants to see. But we’re all looking at this with a very long-term mindset,” he said.

Wisconsin is one of many midwestern states where Trump’s trade war is roiling local industries, and could boost Democrats’ prospects this fall.

And dairy isn’t the only GOP-leaning industry in the state that’s been shaken by Trump’s trade wars. Wisconsin’s corn and soybean farmers aren’t thrilled either, and one iconic Wisconsin company has taken a hit as well. Harley Davidson’s bottom line risks major damage from Trump’s steel tariffs. When the Milwaukee-based company said it will start making its motorcycles for the European market over there to sidestep fallout from Trump’s trade war, the president responded with a call to boycott:

Walker seemed well aware of the impact Trump’s trade wars might have on his own campaign. He quickly brought up the issue unprompted when talking to TPM after a meet-and-greet with supporters on the final day of his 21-stop bus tour through the state.

As you can imagine, you can hear in particular in rural parts still some concerns about agriculture, obviously more aimed at the national level in terms of where prices are, whether it’s for dairy or for commodities,” he said when asked about where the state’s mood was.

And the avowed Harley rider later brought up the company, while sidestepping a question about whether he was happy with Trump’s attacks on his hometown’s pride.

For me, I want Harley Davidson to succeed here in the state of Wisconsin. And one of the best ways for them to do that … is for the president to succeed in getting no tariffs,” he said. “There’s no tariffs, I’ve talked to Harley before. They want to make not only the bikes they make and sell in America, they want to make as many if not all their bikes here. But they need to have the help to do that.”

Walker said he supported Trump’s end goal of no tariffs between the U.S. and other G-7 countries — but implored the president that it needs to happen “sooner, rather than later.”

At least Walker addressed the question.

“We’ve got to go, we’ve got to go,” Senate candidate Leah Vukmir (R), who appears to be the slight favorite to win her Tuesday primary to face Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), said abruptly as soon as TPM mentioned Harley Davidson during a very brief interview after a rally in Racine with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) Monday afternoon. She hustled away across the parking lot, ignoring the repeated question.

Her primary opponent, former Marine Kevin Nicholson (R), has bear-hugged Trump all campaign as he sought to make hay out of Vukmir’s 2016 criticism of the then-nominee. But even he broke with Trump on this issue on the eve of their primary.

“No, I don’t want to see Harley-Davidson boycotted because I want to see them succeeding and selling into new markets without tariffs and that’s going to be the goal,” Nicholson said Monday on a local radio show.

Baldwin has joined many other Democrats to condemn Trump’s latest volley in the trade war, an issue that could split the GOP-leaning voters from their party this fall and give Democrats a chance for their first good midterm election in the state in a decade.

It’s unclear as of now how much Trump’s trade war will end up impacting GOP-leaning voters in the state. But polls and special elections in the state suggest that Democrats are positioned to bounce back after a rough decade in the state that culminated with Trump carrying Wisconsin by less than 23,000 votes in 2016. And there are signs that even some of the state’s most conservative Republicans aren’t thrilled with what the president has wrought.

A lot of people are still in support of what Trump did,” said North. “But maybe they disagree with the tactics he’s taken of late.”

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For a man who has fully embraced President Trump’s “America First” slogan, Rep. Kevin Cramer’s (R-ND) Senate campaign is using a surprising array of international images to sell his campaign.

The top Senate candidate’s website is replete with Getty stock images from around the globe, from Serbia to Indonesia, Hungary to the United Kingdom, to illustrate his made-in-America political views.

One notable shot: Cramer, a staunch ally of Trump who has campaigned heavily on a border-security crackdown, uses a stock image to illustrate the “Illegal immigration and sanctuary cities” section of his website.

The problem? It was taken by Hungarian photographer David Balogh, who has extensively photographed the Hungary-Serbia border crisis, where Hungary’s hard-right anti-immigrant government has erected a fence in response to the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis.

That’s far from the only odd image choice.

The photo illustrating Cramer’s opposition to the “Waters of the U.S. rule” (shown below) is actually waters of Indonesia. That Getty Stock image is of Lake Sentani, near Jayapura City, Indonesia — and far from Fargo.

His campaign’s latest press release on Medicare and Social Security featured an image of old man with a boy in a field. That happens to be a Getty Images photo taken in Serbia and titled “Cute grandfather and grandson going for a walk.”

And Cramer’s “Farm Bill” photo (below) is on Getty as “Man Driving a Tractor.” It appears this shot is from a British photographer.


This isn’t the first time Cramer’s drawn some notice for his use of stock images — one local veteran was unhappy enough about his use of an “Authentic Vietnam Veteran” stock image in a campaign web ad to write a letter to the Bismarck Tribune last month, and Cramer’s campaign was forced to apologize earlier this year for using a photo of him with two local Democrats without seeking their permission to be used in campaign information.

Cramer is running against Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) in a race strategists in both parties say is the GOP’s best chance at a Senate pickup this fall.

His campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) rode a late endorsement from President Trump to the slimmest of leads in his state’s gubernatorial primary, setting up a potentially drawn-out fight over who won and boosting Democrats’ chances at seriously contesting the seat this fall.

Kobach, a notorious immigration hardliner and fierce proponent of the unfounded theory that there’s widespread voting fraud, held a 191-vote lead over Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) after all election day votes were finally tallied Wednesday morning, out of more than 300,000 total votes counted. That’s a 40.6 percent to 40.5 percent edge, close enough that thousands of provisional and absentee votes could make the difference — and close enough that a recount appears likely.

Colyer had a slight edge for much of the race, according to public and private polls, and Trump’s Monday endorsement may have made the difference for Kobach, his ardent supporter. Kobach has authored a number of restrictive anti-immigration and voter identification bills for states around the country, and led Trump’s widely criticized Voter Fraud Panel, which failed to turn up any evidence supporting Trump’s claim that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election.

A Kobach win would Democrats a shot at swiping a governor’s mansion in the heavily Republican state, given his lightning-rod positions. There’s been scant public polling of the race, but one semi-recent survey from a GOP firm found him and Kansas state Sen. Laura Kelly (D) tied in the hypothetical race, while Colyer held a double-digit lead over her.

Kansas’ divide between moderate and conservative Republicans runs deep, and Democrats have won here before with a coalition of moderates and Democrats when the GOP has nominated hardliners — most recently with former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) in 2002 and 2006. The party also almost beat Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) in 2014, riding voters’ fury over Brownback’s deep tax cuts and the ensuing budget chaos in the state and falling just four points short in the GOP wave year. Colyer was Brownback’s lieutenant governor, and ascended to the governor’s mansion when Brownback was picked for an ambassadorship in the Trump administration.

If Colyer pulls out this close primary, it would be good news for Republicans hoping to hold the seat, though it would be an embarrassment for the president.

This general election will be complicated by Greg Orman, a well-known and self-funding independent candidate who could siphon off votes from Kelly. But this race is one to watch heading into the fall.

If Kobach hangs on that could also help down-ticket Democrats, who are gunning to take down Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) in the state’s most moderate and suburban district (Hillary Clinton carried it last election) and want to seriously contest a rural seat held by retiring Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS).

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Republican Troy Balderson appears to have barely squeaked by Democrat Danny O’Connor in a heavily Republican Ohio congressional district Tuesday, the latest warning sign that the GOP is headed into a brutal fall election season.

Balderson led over O’Connor by 50.1 percent to 49.3 percent,  a 1,766-vote lead, with all precincts reporting. That narrow edge came in a district anchored in suburban Columbus, Ohio that President Trump won by 11 percentage points in 2016 and hasn’t elected a Democrat in 35 years. While provisional ballots were still outstanding, that’s likely enough for him to avoid a recount.

That the election was close at all is the latest concerning sign for House Republicans as they look ahead to the fall midterm elections. Many top GOP strategists warned what the results suggest about the fall elections:

The final House special election before the midterms became the latest to shift significantly in Democrats’ favor in the Trump era, after victories by Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) and Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) as well as numerous other wins in legislative special elections and moral victories in other congressional special elections. The combined shift toward Democrats suggest a big surge for the party this fall.

Strategists in both parties admit that both candidates were fairly mediocre, making the Ohio race essentially a test of a generic Democrat versus Republican that didn’t have as many local vagaries as some other special elections.

Midterm elections will have higher turnout and could have slightly different electorates than these special election contests, and Democrats will need to win at least a few seats like this one if they’re going to get to a House majority in November.

Ohio Republicans argued that the race should be taken as a warning, but not a reason to panic.

“Anyone who doesn’t understand there’s increased Democratic enthusiasm isn’t being honest with themselves. There is. The question is, will it be enough? So far the answer has been no. They can make it close, but they can’t get over the hump,” former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges texted TPM as the final results rolled in Tuesday night.

But it’s a bad sign for Republicans that they keep having to fight this hard to hold onto seats that are normally slam dunks for their party. And it’s worth remembering that while Democrats ground out wins in a number of hard-fought special elections in 2010, they lost 63 seats that fall.

Republican outside groups spent more than $6 million combined to salvage Balderson’s prospects in the race after he was vastly out-raised by O’Connor.

And even as they celebrated victory, one of those groups warned it can’t be duplicated across the map in three months if some Republicans don’t up their efforts.

“While we won tonight, this remains a very tough political environment and moving forward, we cannot expect to win tough races when our candidate is being outraised,” Corry Bliss, the head of the big-spending Congressional Leadership Fund, warned in a Tuesday night statement. “Any Republican running for Congress getting vastly outraised by an opponent needs to start raising more money.”

The CLF closed with an ad from Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) strongly endorsing the candidate, a move that may have helped shore him up just enough in the more upscale, country club Republican parts of the district (Kasich, a frequent Trump antagonist, plays much better in those parts of the state). Though Trump came in to campaign with Balderson on Saturday, the rural parts of the district didn’t turn out in near the numbers as the suburban areas.

And while Trump claimed credit for the tight victory in a Tuesday night tweet, it’s likely Kasich who deserves the game ball for helping Balderson hang on in enough suburban territory to pull out the win.

These results may not be as good a sign for Senate Democrats, who need to win many heavily rural, downscale states to increase their numbers in the upper chamber. The suburban-rural splits were huge, with O’Connor over-performing normal Democratic numbers near Columbus and Balderson racking up strong margins in the district’s smaller towns and rural areas.

The two candidates aren’t done with one another: They’ll face off once again in November.

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If Kansas has a Democratic governor next year, it might be as much former Gov. Sam Brownback’s (R) fault as anyone’s.

Brownback had some of the worst poll numbers in the country when he left office to become President Trump’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom late last year, with just 24 percent of voters saying they approved of the job he did.

His policies were so unpopular in the state that, shortly before he left office, many members of his own party joined with Democrats to repeal his signature tax cuts, reversing them by a supermajority vote over his veto. That reversal came after his dramatic tax cuts and corresponding draconian cuts to state government had left the state’s coffers bare and hurt the local economy. He won reelection by just four points — a shocking result especially given how big a wave election 2014 turned out to be for Republicans nationwide.

Democrats are hopeful they can mount a serious effort to flip the seat this fall, especially if firebrand Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), an acolyte of President Trump who’s at least as hard-right as Brownback, wins his primary on Tuesday night. Kobach has pledged to try to reinstate those same tax cuts moderates in his own party repealed last year.

Kansas Democrats have had success pulling together coalitions of Democrats and moderate Republicans to oppose the hardliners — that’s how former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) won election and reelection in 2002 and 2006 — and a Kobach nomination would help them do so.

If current Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) prevails on Tuesday, Democrats admit their road gets much tougher, even though Colyer loyally served as Brownback’s lieutenant governor during the budget crises Brownback caused. There’s been scant public polling in the race. But one GOP survey found Colyer leading state Sen. Laura Kelly (D), the most likely Democratic nominee, by double digits, while she and Kobach were statistically tied.

Democrats are also bullish that they can pick up one and possibly two congressional seats. They think Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) is especially vulnerable in his district, anchored in Kansas City’s better educated suburbs, where both Trump and Brownback are unpopular. They’re also hopeful that Paul Davis, the man who almost beat Brownback in 2014, can win a more conservative, rural seat held by retiring Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS).

Independent, self-funding candidate Greg Orman is polling in the double digits and could play a spoiler for Democrats in the gubernatorial contest. But if they can navigate this race and pull off an upset win — and pick up one or two House seats — they’ll partly have Brownback to thank.

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Democrats are hoping they can pull off one more big special election upset on Tuesday night, shaving their magic number of seats needed to retake the House down to 22 and further panicking congressional Republicans ahead of the midterm elections.

Democrat Danny O’Connor and Republican Troy Balderson are in a neck-and-neck race to replace former Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) in a suburban and exurban district centered in Columbus, Ohio’s suburbs that no Democrat has held in nearly four decades and Trump carried by 11 percentage points in 2016.

Republicans remain a bit more confident they’ll pull this race off than Democrats, but the mere fact that this race is this competitive isn’t a good sign for the GOP’s chances come the fall. Republican outside groups have had to dump millions of dollars into the race to shore up Balderson, who O’Connor has crushed in the fundraising game. President Trump himself showed up on Saturday to help Balderson gin up GOP base enthusiasm (though it’s unclear whether Balderson actually wanted him there), and gave him one more boost Tuesday morning:

As I wrote last week, neither candidate is exactly an all-star — both have proven to be fine, if imperfect, candidates. Balderson struggled with fundraising and further proved this point by telling voters on election eve that “We don’t want someone from Franklin County representing us,” dissing approximately one-third of his district’s voters.

After saying all campaign that he wouldn’t back House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as speaker, O’Connor fumbled a question on MSNBC by admitting he’d support her on the House floor as speaker if she won the Democratic caucus nomination — and he took two weeks off the campaign trail for a trip to Greece right after winning his primary.

That makes this race essentially a generic Democrat-versus-Republican campaign that makes it a better test of where the electorate is in this more upscale, highly educated district. If Democrats are winning here, it’s the latest sign a blue wave might wash across the House map in November. If they just come close, that’s still an ominous result for the GOP, albeit one that gives Republicans hope they can grind out enough close wins in the fall to hang onto House control.

The race isn’t the only interesting one on Tuesday: Kansas will also pick its nominees for governor, an election that could be close this fall if the GOP nominates controversial former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R). Trump endorsed Kobach on Monday, boosting a voting rights opponent and immigration hardliner who has long embraced the president and possibly giving him enough lift to win his hard-fought primary against appointed Gov. Jeff Colyer (R). If that holds, Democrats are hopeful they can seriously compete in the fall election in a state where hardline conservatives’ dominance has turned off a number of suburban Republican voters.

Voters will also pick nominees for Michigan’s gubernatorial election, the GOP opponent for heavily favored Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), nominate candidates in a handful of key House races in Kansas and Michigan, as well as hold elections in Missouri and Washington.

Polls close at 7:30 p.m. EST in Ohio, and 9 p.m. in all of Michigan and Kansas. Washington is vote-by-mail.

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President Trump threw his support behind controversial Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s gubernatorial bid on Monday, the latest move from the president that could end up hurting his party’s chances of winning a major 2018 race.

It’s no shock that Trump embraced Kobach, an early and ardent support (and the head of his conspiracy theory-driven “election integrity commission”), with a Monday morning tweet calling him a “fantastic guy.” But a Kobach endorsement could give him the needed boost to win a hard-fought gubernatorial primary on Tuesday — and put the race at risk for the GOP, the latest time Trump has stepped in and made things harder for his party in a key race, following endorsements in Florida and Georgia that undercut his party’s more moderate candidates.

Kobach is in a tight race with Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer (R), a more establishment candidate who became governor when Sam Brownback was given an ambassadorship in the Trump administration.

The deeply polarizing Kobach has faced a bevy of legal issues stemming from his efforts to curtail voting rights in his state as well as his involvement in the Trump-backed national commission that unsuccessfully sought to confirm Trump’s baseless claims that millions of people had voted illegally in 2016.

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