Even though just two states are voting, Tuesday is one of the most consequential primary days of the year, with former President Donald Trump looking to once again exert his control over the GOP in Wyoming and Alaska.
Here is your guide to what to keep an eye on as polls close throughout the night:
9 p.m. ET: Polls close in Wyoming. Rep. Liz Cheney’s primary is one that has been circled on Trump’s calendar for a long time. Cheney is the last of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump last year to face a primary. So far, just two have advanced to the general election. But of that group, Cheney in particular has drawn Trump’s ire, using her perch as the vice chair of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack at the US Capitol to repeatedly call out the former President as a threat to democracy.
Harriet Hageman, who won the former President’s endorsement in September of last year and had embraced his false election fraud claims, is a heavy favorite to defeat Cheney in the state’s at-large congressional district. While Cheney has maintained a clear fundraising advantage, her only hope to remain competitive in a state Trump won easily in 2020 is to convince enough Democrats and independents to cross over and vote for her in the GOP primary. A Cheney loss would further cement Trump’s grip on the Republican Party and mark the end of a family political dynasty — at least for the time being.
Hageman last ran for office in 2018, when she lost the Republican primary for governor to Mark Gordon, who is now seeking a second term as governor. While Gordon faces a handful of challengers Tuesday, he is expected to cruise through his primary.
12 a.m./1 a.m. ET: Polls close in Alaska. If you’re planning to follow the Alaska primary results, you may want to put on a pot of coffee this evening, especially if you’re on the East Coast. Polls will close in most of the state at midnight ET, but in a small part of the state, polls are open until 1 a.m. ET, so don’t expect any race projections until after then.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski is the only Republican senator facing reelection in 2022 who voted to convict Trump in his impeachment trial last year. Like Cheney, she quickly drew a primary challenge, with Trump endorsing Kelly Tshibaka in the summer of 2021. Murkowski may benefit from Alaska’s unique primary system where all candidates, regardless of party, appear on the same ballot and the top four finishers advance to the general election.
Elsewhere on the ballot, former vice presidential nominee and Gov. Sarah Palin is attempting a political comeback in a special election for Alaska’s lone congressional seat to complete the late Rep. Don Young’s term. She is on the ballot along with Republican Nick Begich III, who won the state party’s endorsement and is the grandson of the former Democratic congressman of the same name, and Democrat Mary Peltola. This election will be decided using ranked choice voting: if no candidate receives 50% of the first choice votes Tuesday, the ranked choice tabulation won’t be conducted until Aug. 31.
To make matters even more complex, there is also a regular primary election for a full two-year term in Alaska’s at-large district. Palin, Begich and Peltola are also on that ballot for that contest, along with 19 other candidates. The top four vote-getters will advance to the November general election.
Alaska is also hosting a top-four primary for governor, which features incumbent Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy as well as his predecessor, independent former Gov. Bill Walker.
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