Voters pick gubernatorial, Senate matchups in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont, Connecticut

Tim Michels
(Image credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Voters went to the polls in four states on Tuesday, setting up a handful of high-stakes matchups for Senate and governorships.

In Wisconsin, Democrats overwhelmingly selected Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes to challenge Sen. Ron Johnson (R), who is seeking a third term despite an earlier pledge to retire after two. Republicans narrowly chose construction executive Tim Michels over former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch to face Gov. Tony Evers (D) in November. Former President Donald Trump had backed Michels while former Vice President Mike Pence had endorsed Kleefisch. Their policy platforms were similar, Politico reports, but Trump "had a problem" with Kleefisch "over an old tweet" involving a state Supreme Court justice whose election rulings Trump didn't like.

Trump failed in his bid to unseat Wisconsin state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) with a little-known GOP primary challenger, Adam Steen. "My opponent spent almost his entire campaign saying we should keep arguing about overturning the 2020 election," Vos said. "I am glad the voters agreed with me that it's time to move on and focus on the future, not the past."

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In Minnesota, Republicans tapped Scott Jensen, a doctor and former state lawmaker who is skeptical of COVID-19 vaccines, to face Gov. Tim Walz (D) in the general election. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D) narrowly defeated primary challenger Don Samuels, a former Minneapolis city councilman backed by $750,000 from "pro-police groups as well as a mysterious super PAC," in Minnesota's heavily Democratic 5th Congressional District, The Associated Press reports.

In Vermont, Democrats chose state Senate president pro tempore Becca Balint over Lt. Gov. Molly Gray to replace Rep. Peter Welch (D), the state's at-large U.S. representative. She is expected to win, becoming the first woman to represent Vermont in Congress. Welch won the Democratic nomination to replace Sen. Pat Leahy (D). Democrats also picked Brenda Siegel for an uphill battle to topple popular three-term Republican Gov. Phil Scott.

Trump notched one more win in Connecticut, where Leora Levy, the candidate he endorsed last week to take on Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D), "surged to an unexpected victory over a more moderate rival in a liberal-leaning state that has historically drawn moderate GOP candidates," AP reports.

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