Polls close in Illinois, other states in first elections since blockbuster Supreme Court abortion ruling

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Polls have closed in Illinois, Mississippi and Oklahoma, which are among eight states to hold elections Tuesday, the first since the Supreme Court’s monumental opinion overturned the landmark half century old Roe v. Wade abortion ruling.

The move on Friday by the high court’s conservative majority, which opens the door for roughly two dozen states to quickly ban abortions, could upend November’s midterm elections, when the Democrats will be defending their razor-thin House and Senate majorities as they face historical headwinds as well as an extremely difficult political climate fueled by skyrocketing gas prices, soaring inflation and President Biden’s underwater approval ratings. 

Tuesday’s primaries in New York State, Illinois, Colorado, Utah, and Oklahoma, runoff elections in Mississippi and South Carolina, and a special election in Nebraska, could provide a glimpse of how the blockbuster ruling may be reshaping political dynamics. 

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Since most Republicans stand far apart from Democrats on the combustible issue of abortion, the campaign impact of the high court’s ruling will likely be felt in November rather than in the primaries, but Tuesday’s contests and the ensuing intra-party elections throughout the summer could give us a taste of enhanced turnout due to the issue, and may serve as a sign of things to come in the autumn.

PRIMARY VOTERS DECIDE ELECTIONS IN ILLINOIS, NEW YORK, UTAH, OKLAHOMA, AND COLORADO: LIVE UPDATES

New York

In New York State, where abortion is legal up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, and beyond in certain cases, GOP gubernatorial candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin told Fox News on the eve of the primary that “as somebody who’s pro-life, I have found a lot of common ground here when I start engaging with people who might consider themselves to be pro-choice.”

Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York, a GOP gubernatorial candidate, campaigns in Goshen, N.Y. on the eve of the state’s primary 
(Fox News )

Zeldin, a four-term lawmaker who represents New York’s 1st Congressional District, which covers the eastern half of Long Island, is the front-runner in the Republican primary when it comes to public opinion polling, fundraising, and key endorsements. 

The primary field also includes Rob Astorino, the former Westchester County executive and 2014 GOP gubernatorial nominee; Andrew Giuliani, who served in former President Donald Trump’s administration and is the son of former New York City mayor and former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani; and Harry Wilson, a businessman, investor and restructuring expert who’s pouring millions of his own money into his gubernatorial bid.

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Trump has remained neutral in the race, despite efforts by Zeldin — who was a Trump ally in the House during the former president’s administration — and Giuliani to land the former president’s blessing.

The winner of the GOP primary will likely face off against Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul. She is the clear polling and fundraising front-runner for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in a race that also includes Rep. Tom Suozzi and New York City public advocate Jumaane Williams.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul debates in the race for governor at the studios of WNBC4-TV June 16, 2022 in New York City. Early voting starts June 18 ahead of the June 28 primary. 

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul debates in the race for governor at the studios of WNBC4-TV June 16, 2022 in New York City. Early voting starts June 18 ahead of the June 28 primary. 
(Craig Ruttle-Pool/Getty Images)

Hochul, who at the time was the state’s lieutenant governor, was sworn in last August as New York’s first female governor, after three-term Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned in disgrace amid multiple scandals.

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Then-Gov. George Pataki’s 2002 re-election 20 years ago was the last time a Republican won a gubernatorial election in the blue state of New York.

Illinois

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois faces a primary challenge from the left from Beverly Miles, a nurse and U.S. Army veteran from Chicago. Miles’s platform includes Medicare for All and reparations for descendants of slave. But the billionaire governor enjoys massive campaign funding and name recognition advantages.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker speaks during a ceremonial groundbreaking at the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park on September 28, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker speaks during a ceremonial groundbreaking at the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park on September 28, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.
(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The contest to watch on Tuesday is the wide field of Republicans running to face off with Pritzker in the blue state of Illinois in November.

Richard Irvin, the mayor of Aurora, Illinois in metropolitan Chicago, was boosted by tens of millions in support from billionaire conservative Ken Griffin, the CEO of Citadel, the multinational hedge fund and financial services behemoth.

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But thanks to attacks from the right on his conservative credentials, and a deluge of ads from Pritzker and the Democratic Governors Association blasting him for months, Irvin lost his front-runner status in public opinion polling in recent weeks to state Sen. Darren Bailey. The Democrats meddling – they’ve spent tens of millions – to sink Irvin’s campaign scored a massive victory on Saturday, when former President Donald Trump — at a rally in Illinois — endorsed Bailey, whom Democrats view as the weaker general election candidate.

Trump’s clout over the GOP is also on the line on Tuesday in the GOP primary in Illinois 15th Congressional District, in the central part of the state, where there’s a member-on-member Republican showdown. 

Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL) gives remarks after receiving an endorsement during a Save America Rally with former President Donald Trump at the Adams County Fairgrounds on June 25, 2022 in Mendon, Illinois

Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL) gives remarks after receiving an endorsement during a Save America Rally with former President Donald Trump at the Adams County Fairgrounds on June 25, 2022 in Mendon, Illinois
(Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)

The former president headlined Saturday’s rally for Rep. Mary Miller, a first-term representative and Trump supporter, who’s facing off against Rep. Rodney Davis, who for a decade has represented the neighboring 13th District, and is running against Miller for the new, heavily red seat in the central part of the state, which contains large swaths of his current district. 

Davis was one of 35 House Republicans who last year voted for a bipartisan and independent commission to investigate the Jan 6, 2021 deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol by right wing extremists and other Trump supporters who aimed to disrupt the congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. The bill to create the commission was downed in the Senate and House Democrats eventually set up a select committee of mostly Democrats to investigate the storming of the Capitol.

TRUMP’S GOP CLOUT ON THE LINE ONCE AGAIN – THIS TIME IN ILLINOIS 

There’s another member-on-member primary in Illinois 6th Congressional District — in the north central part of the state — but this contest is between two Democrats. Rep. Sean Casten is facing off against Rep. Marie Newman, who’s backed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC. The Democratic Majority for Israel PAC has pumped big bucks into the race to back Casten and take aim at Newman, who’s one of the most vocal supporters of the Palestinians in Congress.

In the Chicago-area 7th Congressional District, longtime Democratic Rep. Danny Davis is facing a primary challenge from the left from Kina Collins, who’s backed by the Justice Democrats, the group that fueled the rise of the “Squad.” President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the Congressional Black Caucus have all endorsed the 80-year-old Davis, who’s served in the House for over a quarter century.

There’s another moderate versus progressive Democratic primary in the 3rd Congressional District, an open seat that is also in the Chicago area. State Rep. Delia Ramirez has the backing of two giants of the left – Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Chicago Alderman Gilbert Villegas is supported by more moderate factions of the party.

Colorado

Democrats are also meddling in the high-profile GOP Senate primary in Colorado, where the winner will challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in November’s midterm election, in a race that the GOP increasingly thinks it has a chance of winning in a state that’s leaned blue for nearly two decades.

Joe O’Dea, a first-time candidate and the owner of Concrete Express, a Denver-based construction company, is facing off against Ron Hanks — a military veteran and a state lawmaker.

Democrats view Hanks, who supports Trump’s repeated unproven claims that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” due to “massive voter fraud and irregularities,” as the weaker candidate in November compared to the more moderate O’Dea, who’s poured millions of his own money into his campaign.

Hanks, who’s fundraising has been anemic, has been getting plenty of help from Democratic Colorado, a pro-Democrat super PAC that’s spent over $3 million to run ads meddling in the GOP Senate primary. Hanks is also indirectly getting support from recent mailers that incorrectly claim he’s endorsed by the Colorado GOP. The state Republican Party called the mailers “verifiably false and malicious” and “criminal.” The mailers are also anonymous, breaking election laws that require the naming of the groups that pay for campaign mailers.

Democrats also meddled in the GOP gubernatorial primary. A new group named “Colorado Information Network,” dished out nearly $2 milllion to run ads boosting underfunded Greg Lopez over Heidi Ganahl, who Democrats view as a more credible candidate to take on Gov. Jared Polis in November.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) speaks at a House Second Amendment Caucus press conference at the U.S. Capitol on June 8, 2022 in Washington, DC. 

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) speaks at a House Second Amendment Caucus press conference at the U.S. Capitol on June 8, 2022 in Washington, DC. 
(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Another contest in Colorado that’s grabbing a bit of national attention is in the state’s 3rd Congressional District, which covers the mostly rural western third of Colorado. That’s where controversial conservative firebrand first-term GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert is facing a primary challenge from state Rep. Don Coram, a rancher and hemp farmer, who slams what he calls Boebert’s extremism.

Oklahoma

The crowded GOP primary scramble to succeed retiring Republican Rep. Jim Inhofe is grabbing attention. The field includes Rep. Markwayne Mullin, former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon, former Inhofe chief of staff Luke Holland — who’s backed by the senator — as well as state Sen. Nathan Dahm, former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, and former White House staffer Alex Gray. If no candidate tops 50% of the vote, a runoff will be held on August 23.

Trump has stayed neutral in the primary battle.

Republican Sen. James Lankford, Oklahoma’s junior senator, is facing multiple primary challengers, including Tulsa pastor Jackson Lahmeyer, who’s made loyalty to Trump the centerpiece of his campaign. Lankford, who enjoys the backing of conservative firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz of neighboring Texas, is expected to win.

Utah, Mississippi, South Carolina and Nebraska

Elsewhere, there are primaries in Utah and two GOP congressional primary runoffs in Mississippi.

In Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District, two-term GOP Rep Michael Guest faces a primary challenge from the right from Michael Cassidy, who has attacked Guest criticizes Guest for voting for the bipartisan Jan. 6 commission.

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There’s also a Democratic Senate primary runoff in South Carolina, with the winner facing off in November against GOP Sen. Tim Scott. 

And Nebraska is holding its first congressional special election in over 70 years, in the race to fill the seat left vacant after GOP Rep. Jeff Fortenberry resigned after a jury found him guilty of lying to the FBI.

Fox News’ Jessica Loker contributed to this report

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