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Climate Politics Almanac: August 2 primary preview, Missouri and Washington
The conclusion of our look at Tuesday's primaries
MO-Sen: Republican senator Roy Blunt only narrowly won re-election to this seat in 2016. Now Blunt is retiring, creating a crowded open seat race to replace him. Anti-monopoly campaigner Lucas Kunce has raised substantial resources on a platform of breaking up Big Ag monopolies, and has pledged a “Marshall Plan for the Midwest.” For months, Kunce was the heavy frontrunner in the Dem primary, but in recent weeks beer heiress Trudy Busch Valentine has been spending heavily, and Kunce has started running ads highlighting Busch Valentine’s involvement with the St. Louis’ Veiled Prophet Society, which has an ugly white supremacist history. Conventional wisdom holds that Kunce and Busch Valentine don’t have much of a chance in the general election unless Republicans nominate former governor Eric Greitens, whose lengthy record of horrendous abuse and violence is arguably a liability for Republican voters. Greitens’ major opponents in the Republican primary are Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who has the support of insurrectionist Sen. Josh Hawley and calls the “war on coal” a “travesty,” and Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who joined a lawsuit against calculating the ‘social cost of carbon.’
MO-01: Last cycle, Rep. Cori Bush expanded the Squad with her upset victory over dynastic St. Louis politician Lacy Clay. Bush has been an active legislator and strong climate hawk, leading the Green New Deal for Cities proposal, urging a halt to fossil fuel project expansion, joining the all-star Oversight Subcommittee on the Environment’s investigation of Big Oil, and traveling to Minnesota to protest the Enbridge Line 3 tar-sands pipeline. Clay is backing Bush’s opponent, state senator Steve Roberts Jr., who has faced numerous allegations of sexual assault. Roberts has attacked Bush for voting against the bipartisan infrastructure deal and sticking to her pledge only to support the bipartisan deal as leverage for Build Back Better— a position that was vindicated when Build Back Better imploded.
Note: Washington uses top-two primaries, in which the top two vote-winners, regardless of party, advance to the general election in the fall. Each of Washington’s 49 legislative districts elects one senator and two representatives.
WA-03: Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler’s district in the southwestern corner of the state is on the outskirts of competitive at R+11. After supporting Trump’s second impeachment, Herrera Beutler is facing primary challenges from two Republicans, but she is hoping to rely on votes from Democrats and independents to advance to the general election through Washington’s top-two primary system. Trump has endorsed military veteran Joe Kent, who seems to spend a lot of time with Nazis. A mysterious super PAC has spent heavily in support of “Christian podcaster” Heidi St. John. The only Democrat in the race is auto shop owner Marie Gluesenkamp Perez.
WA-04: Democratic Rep. Kim Schrier’s district is the most competitive in the state. Schrier is the leader of the corporate-friendly New Democrat Coalition’s climate task force, which backs “market-based solutions” to global warming. The fundraising leaders in the primary to determine Schrier’s general election opponent are veteran Jesse Jensen, endorsed by Trump climate villains like Ryan Zinke, and King County Councilman Reagan Dunn. Further behind in the fundraising race are manufacturer Matt Larkin and conspiracy theorist Scott Stephenson, whose top campaign priority is to “end grooming and racial indoctrination,” and whose campaign website claims his current occupation involves installing listening devices in consumers’ homes as Principal Technical Manager for Amazon’s Alexa.1 (Interestingly, Stephenson also wants to “end Big Tech censorship.”)
WA-08: Rep. Dan Newhouse was also one of the few Republicans to vote for Trump’s second impeachment, though there is less of a possibility that Democrat Doug White might sneak through in this R+25 central Washington district. Newhouse’s most notable challenger is Trump-endorsed former Republic police chief Loren Culp, who refused to concede the Washington gubernatorial election in 2020 despite losing to governor Jay Inslee by over 500,000 votes.
State Legislature: Democrats won the state senate majority in a 2017 special election, paving the way for Gov. Inslee (in office through 2024) to pursue an ambitious climate agenda. Inslee’s selection of moderate state senator Steve Hobbs to fill a vacancy as Secretary of State further boosted the chances of progressive climate achievements (Hobbs’ Republican general election opponent in this November’s special election for Secretary of State will also be determined on August 2).
In northwest Seattle’s LD 36, Sierra Club and most advocacy organizations have endorsed the state senate campaign of House Finance Chair Noel Frame, who faces former Republican Katie Martin in a contest over whether or not to tax Washington’s billionaires.
Climate and environmental groups are neutral in the LD 47 senate race between former senator Claudia Kauffman, who emphasizes climate action on her campaign site, and Kent Councilwoman Satwinder Kaur, who does not.
After losing to New Dem Rep. Marilyn Strickland in a 2020 congressional race, former Power Past Coal director Beth Doglio is seeking a return to LD 22 House Position 1, and is supported by Sierra Club and Washington Conservation Voters.
In the open race for LD 36 House Position 1, many progressive groups and newspapers have endorsed Obama admin veteran Julia Reed, though the environmental and climate caucus of Washington House Dems have endorsed disability advocate Jeff Manson. Several labor unions are supporting advocate Waylon Robert, though the Transit Riders are backing legislative aide Nicole Gomez, while gun safety groups favor Elizabeth Tyler Crone, who calls for “accelerated climate action.”
In the open race for LD 46 Position 2, the main contenders seem to be physician Lelach Rave, who observes that the “climate crisis will require that we reorganize our society,” Disability Rights Washington Director Darya Farivar, and small business owner Melissa Taylor, who is endorsed by the environment and climate caucus.
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