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Primary Winners:Diversity, Trump Picks 08/15 06:07

   Democrats embraced diversity Tuesday in a primary night of firsts, while 
Republicans in Minnesota rejected a familiar face of the GOP old guard in favor 
of a rising newcomer aligned with President Donald Trump.

   ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Democrats embraced diversity Tuesday in a primary 
night of firsts, while Republicans in Minnesota rejected a familiar face of the 
GOP old guard in favor of a rising newcomer aligned with President Donald Trump.

   In Vermont, Democrats rallied behind the nation's first transgender nominee 
for governor. Minnesota Democrats backed a woman who would be the first 
Somali-American member of Congress. And in Connecticut, the party nominated a 
candidate who could become the first black woman from the state to serve in 

   Still, Democrats in Minnesota also backed a national party leader who is 
facing accusations of domestic violence. He has denied the allegations, yet 
they threaten to undercut enthusiasm in his state and beyond.

   On the other side, Trump tightened his grip on the modern-day Republican 
Party as the turbulent 2018 primary season lurched toward its finale. A 
one-time Trump critic, former two-term Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, lost a 
comeback attempt he was expected to win.

   All but 10 states picked their candidates for November's general election by 
the time the day's final votes were counted. While the full political 
battlefield isn't quite set, the stakes are clear: Democrats are working to 
topple Republican control of Congress and governors' offices across the nation.

   Four states held primaries Tuesday: Vermont, Connecticut, Minnesota and 
Wisconsin. Kansas' gubernatorial primary, which was held last week, was 
finalized when Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer conceded defeat.

   In Minnesota, Republican County Commissioner Jeff Johnson defeated Pawlenty, 
who once called Trump "unhinged and unfit" and was hoping to regain his old 
post. In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker, endorsed just this week by Trump, won 
the right to seek a third term.

   The president's pick for Kansas governor, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, 
scored a delayed victory against Colyer, who became the first incumbent 
governor to fall this season.

   In Vermont, Democrat Christine Hallquist won the Democratic nomination in 
her quest to become the nation's first transgender governor. The former chief 
executive of Vermont Electric Cooperative bested a field of four Democrats that 
included a 14-year-old.

   While she made history on Tuesday, Hallquist faces a difficult path to the 
governor's mansion. Republican incumbent Phil Scott remains more popular with 
Democrats than members of his own party in the solidly liberal state.

   Vermont Democrats also nominated Sen. Bernie Sanders, who hasn't ruled out a 
second presidential run in 2020, for a third term in the Senate. The 
76-year-old democratic socialist won the Democratic nomination, but he is 
expected to turn it down and run as an independent.

   Democrats appeared particularly motivated in Wisconsin, where eight 
candidates lined up for the chance to take on Walker.

   Walker's strong anti-union policies made him a villain to Democrats long 
before Trump's rise. State schools chief Tony Evers, who has clashed with 
Walker at times, won the Democratic nomination and will take on Walker this 

   Once a target of Trump criticism, Walker gained the president's endorsement 
in a tweet Monday night calling him "a tremendous Governor who has done 
incredible things for that Great State."

   Trump also starred, informally at least, in Wisconsin's Senate primaries as 
Republicans try to deny Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin a second term.

   Longtime state lawmaker Leah Vukmir, who was backed by House Speaker Paul 
Ryan, won the Republican primary, even after struggling to explain footage 
recently unearthed from 2016 in which she called Trump "offensive to everyone."

   Tuesday's primaries served as a test of Democratic enthusiasm in the upper 
Midwest, a region that has long been associated with liberal politics but has 
been trending red. Trump won Wisconsin by less than 1 percentage point in 2016, 
becoming the first Republican presidential candidate to carry the state since 

   It was much the same in Minnesota, where Trump lost by less than 3 
percentage points in a state that hasn't backed a Republican presidential 
contender since 1972.

   Nearly twice as many Minnesota Democrats as Republicans cast ballots in 
their parties' respective gubernatorial primaries.

   Pawlenty had been considered the heavy favorite in a two-person Republican 
contest for his old job. But he struggled to adapt to a GOP that had changed 
drastically since he left office in 2011 and flamed out early in a 2012 
presidential bid.

   The former two-term governor strained to live down his October 2016 comment 
that Trump was "unhinged and unfit for the presidency," remarks that incensed 
many Republican voters in Minnesota and beyond. Johnson, his underfunded 
opponent, circulated Pawlenty's critique far and wide, telling voters that he 
was a steadfast supporter of the president.

   Johnson will face Democratic Rep. Tim Walz, who won a three-way race for his 
party's nomination.

   Three Minnesota women won Senate nominations, including incumbent Democrats 
Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith.

   Smith, who had been appointed to replace Democrat Al Franken, will face 
Republican state Sen. Karin Housley, ensuring a woman will hold the seat once 
held by Franken, who left Congress amid allegations of sexual misconduct toward 

   Nationwide, a record number of women are running this year for governor and 

   Meanwhile, a new scandal threatened to dampen Democratic enthusiasm.

   Rep. Keith Ellison, the Democratic National Committee's deputy chairman, 
captured his party's nomination in the race to become the state's attorney 
general. That's after Ellison's candidacy was rocked by allegations over the 
weekend of domestic violence amid a broader national outcry against sexual 
misconduct by powerful men in business, entertainment and politics.

   Ellison has denied a former girlfriend's allegations that he dragged her off 
a bed while screaming obscenities during a 2016 relationship she said was 
plagued by "narcissistic abuse."

   Also in Minnesota, Democrat Ilhan Omar, the nation's first Somali-American 
legislator, won her party's congressional primary in the race to replace 

   In Connecticut, Republican businessman Bob Stefanowski emerged from a field 
of five Republicans seeking to replace the unpopular outgoing governor, 
Democrat Dan Malloy. Former gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont won the 
Democratic nomination.

   Connecticut Democrats picked former teacher of the year, Jahana Hayes, to 
run for the seat vacated by Rep. Elizabeth Etsy, who is leaving Congress after 
bungling sexual abuse claims levied against a former staffer. Hayes could 
become the first black woman from the state to serve in Congress.


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