Election Updates: Montana’s Senate race is set: Tim Sheehy will face Jon Tester. (2024)

Kellen Browning

Tim Sheehy will challenge Senator Jon Tester in Montana as G.O.P. hopes to capture seat.

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Tim Sheehy, a businessman and former Navy SEAL, won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Montana on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press, setting him up for a November showdown against Senator Jon Tester, the Democratic incumbent.

With roughly half of the vote counted, Mr. Sheehy had 73 percent, well ahead of his lesser-known opponents. Brad Johnson, Montana’s former secretary of state, had 19 percent of the vote, and Charles Walkingchild had 7.5 percent.

“As a Navy SEAL, I’ve always put country before self and I’m running for the U.S. Senate to end Joe Biden and Jon Tester’s inflation, seal our border, secure our children’s future, and put America First,” Mr. Sheehy said in a statement, adding that he was “humbled and honored by all the support.”

The Republican primary was essentially a foregone conclusion since February, when Representative Matt Rosendale abruptly exited the race — less than a week after he entered it — citing former President Donald J. Trump’s endorsem*nt of Mr. Sheehy. Mr. Rosendale, a right-wing hard-liner, had been viewed as the only serious challenger to Mr. Sheehy, for whom the Republican establishment had worked to clear the field. His victory is a boon for Republicans as they work to recapture control of the Senate, competing on a favorable map in which a number of vulnerable Democrats face tough re-election battles.

“Tim Sheehy is a strong conservative, an American hero and a successful businessman who will bring an outsider’s perspective to a broken Washington,” said Senator Steve Daines, the Montana Republican who leads the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which works to elect Republicans to the Senate. “The clearest path to a Republican Senate majority runs through Montana.”

Mr. Sheehy will face a formidable opponent in Mr. Tester, a popular incumbent who has survived past challenges in his ruby-red state by leaning on his background as a third-generation Montana farmer and his reputation of bipartisanship. Recent polls have suggested a tight race, and the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates Montana a “tossup.” Mr. Tester officially captured the Democratic nomination on Tuesday.

In a post on X on Tuesday night, Mr. Tester acknowledged his November opponent: “It’s official. I’m facing off against Mitch McConnell’s handpicked candidate Tim Sheehy for Montana’s U.S. Senate seat. And I’m going to win.”

Mr. Tester has a cash advantage; he raised $4.1 million between April 1 and May 15, according to recent financial filings, and his campaign has $11.7 million cash on hand. Mr. Sheehy’s campaign raised $2.1 million in the same period — including $600,000 the candidate lent himself — and had $2.2 million cash on hand.

But Republicans believe Mr. Tester, first elected in 2006, is especially vulnerable this election. After more than 17 years in Washington, they think his rural, working-class narrative has worn thin with Montanan voters, and argue he has been a reliable vote for laws signed by President Biden, who is unpopular with the state’s voters. They plan to pin the border crisis and the rising costs of living in Montana on Mr. Biden and, by extension, Mr. Tester.

Democrats have countered with attacks on Mr. Sheehy’s biography. As a wealthy businessman who grew up in Minnesota and moved to Montana a decade ago, they say he epitomizes a trend of rich transplants moving to the state and driving up housing prices, which has infuriated longtime residents. (Mr. Sheehy, who runs an aerial firefighting company and owns a stake in a cattle ranch, made his wealth after moving to the state.)

They have also poked holes in his back story, pointing especially to lingering questions over how he sustained a gunshot wound that he has said came from his time in Afghanistan.

Elise Young

Rob Menendez, a senator’s son, staves off a primary challenge.

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Representative Rob Menendez of New Jersey on Tuesday staved off a tough Democratic primary challenge from Ravi Bhalla, the mayor of Hoboken, N.J.

The race in House District 8, which includes parts of Newark and Jersey City, was more competitive than expected because of the legal troubles facing Mr. Menendez’s father, the state’s senior U.S. senator, who is on trial in Manhattan on federal bribery, corruption and obstruction charges.

Representative Menendez, a first-term congressman, has not been accused of wrongdoing and has not been implicated in the legal case against his father. He characterized those seeking to oust him as opportunists who regard him as vulnerable because of his father’s legal trouble.

Though most of the state’s Democratic leaders have abandoned his father, Mr. Menendez collected endorsem*nts from political leaders, organized labor and civic groups and had considerably more campaign cash than his opponents.

Still, even some of the congressman’s allies said in interviews in recent days that they were worried. A former private equity lawyer, Mr. Menendez had only a slim record to fall back on. He had never held elected office before his father helped clear the field for him two years ago. And he has remained loyal, saying last fall that he has “unwavering confidence” in his father’s “integrity and his values.”

Senator Robert Menendez did not compete in the Democratic primary for his own seat. But on Monday, he filed paperwork allowing him to appear on the general election ballot as an independent. If he does run, it will place his son in the potentially awkward position of appearing on the same ballot as his father.

In addition to Mr. Bhalla, Mr. Menendez was running against Kyle Jasey, 41, of Jersey City, who runs a real-estate finance company, in the Democratic primary.

He will face Republican Anthony Valdes, 43, of West New York, a building inspector, in the general election in November.

Elise Young

Andy Kim wins Democratic Senate primary in New Jersey.

Representative Andy Kim won a decisive victory in the Democratic Senate primary in New Jersey on Tuesday, beating two other candidates and setting up what could be a lively general election campaign in the fall.

The incumbent senator, Robert Menendez, did not appear on the Democratic ballot. He is standing trial in Manhattan on federal bribery, corruption and obstruction charges. But on Monday, he filed paperwork that will allow him to appear on the November ballot as an independent candidate.

Mr. Kim, 41, beat Lawrence Hamm, who headed Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign in New Jersey, and Patricia Campos-Medina, a workers-rights scholar and organizer.

New Jersey Primary Election ResultsGet live results and maps from the 2024 New Jersey primary elections.

Even before Tuesday, Mr. Kim had vanquished a third potential Democratic rival. Tammy Murphy, the first lady of New Jersey, entered the primary but ultimately bowed out.

“What I hope people see in me is someone who wants to do the work,” Mr. Kim said in an interview.

He campaigned on ending New Jersey’s political cronyism, and took a large step in that direction during the primary campaign. He was a plaintiff in a lawsuit that forced officials to redesign Democratic ballots across the state, ending a longstanding practice of giving preferential positions to candidates endorsed by local party leaders.

New Jersey voters have not sent a Republican to the U.S. Senate in more than half a century. But several candidates saw a glimmer of opportunity in the chaos created by Mr. Menendez’s legal woes.

The winner of the Republican primary was Curtis Bashaw, a 64-year-old Cape May developer, who beat three other candidates: Christine Serrano Glassner, 60, the Mendham Borough mayor; Albert Harshaw of Jackson, a Navy veteran; and Justin Murphy of Tabernacle, a former deputy mayor.

Republican votes may become more meaningful in November if Mr. Mendendez, who would be a high-profile independent, actually appears on the ballot, potentially splintering the vote.

Elise Young

Herb Conaway wins House primary in Andy Kim’s district.

Herb Conaway, a member of the New Jersey General Assembly, won a five-way Democratic primary for a seat in the U.S. House representing communities in the central and southern part of the state.

Mr. Conaway, 61, a physician with a law degree who was first elected in 1997, had won endorsem*nts from the Democratic organizations in Burlington, Monmouth and Mercer Counties.

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He made health care issues a key part of his campaign.

“I will continue to defend a woman’s right to choose and a patient’s right to consult with physicians to direct their health care,” said Mr. Conaway, who has been Assembly health committee chairman for 18 years.

The District 3 seat became open last fall when the incumbent, Representative Andy Kim, announced plans to run for the Senate seat held by Robert Menendez.

Mr. Kim unseated a two-term Republican, Tom MacArthur, in 2018. Since then, redistricting has made the district significantly more Democratic.

Mr. Kim’s decision to seek higher office was the first of two major developments to shape the race. The second was a court decision forcing Democratic officials across the state to redesign their primary election ballots. In the past, those candidates endorsed by party leaders were given preferential placement on the ballot — placement known as “the county line.” That is no longer the case, and it threw election night expectations into doubt across the state.

Mr. Conaway’s chief competitor was Carol Murphy, 61, a member of the General Assembly who took office in 2018 and in the past worked for lawmakers. Mr. Conaway and Ms. Murphy worked together in the Assembly and had similar voting records.

The other Democrats in the race were Joe Cohn, a lawyer from Lumberton; Brian Schkeeper, a 44-year-old teacher from Medford; and Sarah Schoengood, 30, a seafood business owner who was a plaintiff in the ballot lawsuit.

In the Republican race, Rajesh Mohan of Holmdel, a cardiologist, beat out three other candidates: Michael F. Faccone of Freehold; Shirley Maia-Cusick of Medford, an immigration consultant; and Gregory Sobocinski of Southampton, a financial adviser.

Neil Vigdor and Danny Hakim

Wisconsin charges three Trump allies in fake electors scheme.

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Wisconsin brought felony charges on Tuesday against three onetime advisers of former President Donald J. Trump in connection with a fake electors plot there in 2020, becoming the fifth battleground state to prosecute his allies for their attempts to overturn his defeat that year.

Kenneth Chesebro, an architect of the Trump campaign’s plans to impanel slates of bogus electors in several states that Mr. Trump lost, was named as a defendant in the action by Wisconsin’s attorney general, Josh Kaul, a Democrat.

The other men charged were James R. Troupis, a former judge who was working for the campaign in Wisconsin, and Michael Roman, who was Mr. Trump’s director of Election Day operations.

All three face a single count of forgery-uttering, a felony in Wisconsin that carries a penalty of up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

During a news conference in Madison on Tuesday, Mr. Kaul said the state’s investigation into the matter was continuing. He declined to elaborate on the details surrounding the charges, which were laid out in complaints filed in Dane County Circuit Court.

“We feel confident in the charges we’ve brought,” Mr. Kaul said.

In total, 52 people have been charged in criminal cases in five states stemming from efforts to overturn the 2020 election, a group headlined by Mr. Trump, who was indicted last year in Georgia under a state Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act law, and who also faces a federal election-interference case. He was also named as an unindicted co-conspirator in Michigan.

Several defendants have already pleaded guilty or reached cooperation deals, including Mr. Chesebro, who in October pleaded guilty in a criminal racketeering indictment in Georgia and agreed to cooperate with state prosecutors. He has emerged as a key witness for prosecutors in other states.

Manny Arora, one of Mr. Chesebro’s lawyers in Georgia, declined to comment on Tuesday about the Wisconsin case.

In one of the criminal complaints, an investigator for the state described the three defendants as having played key roles in drafting and circulating a certificate that was signed by a group of Mr. Trump’s Wisconsin allies under the guise that the fake electors had been duly appointed.

The certificate did not contain a disclaimer that the slate of electors had been impaneled as a contingency, in the event that Mr. Trump’s team succeeded with its legal challenges of the election results, the investigator said.

The complaint alleged that the three men participated in a clandestine effort to circulate the document before a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, to certify the election results, a process that was disrupted by a mob of Mr. Trump’s supporters.

Wisconsin is the third state to charge Mr. Roman, after Georgia and Arizona, where he is scheduled to be arraigned on Friday. A lawyer for Mr. Roman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Mr. Troupis has drawn attention for having recruited Mr. Chesebro to Mr. Trump’s legal team and for an email exchange between him and Mr. Chesebro after the 2020 election in which the two discussed how the Trump campaign could get false-elector documents into the hands of members of Congress.

Phone and email messages seeking comment from Mr. Troupis, a former judge, went unanswered on Tuesday.

A spokesman for Mr. Trump’s campaign did not immediately comment on Tuesday.

Wisconsin’s governor, Tony Evers, a Democrat, praised the charges against Mr. Trump’s allies in a one-word statement on Tuesday.

“Good,” said Mr. Evers, whose office pointed out that he had been calling for those involved in the fake electors plot to be held accountable.

Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, who had sowed misinformation about the results of the 2020 election, called the charges “outrageous” in a social media post.

“Now Democrats are weaponizing Wisconsin’s judiciary,” he wrote. “Apparently conservative lawyers advising clients is illegal under Democrat tyranny.”

Wisconsin will host the Republican National Convention next month in Milwaukee. There, Mr. Trump is scheduled to accept the party’s presidential nomination, just days after he is set to be sentenced in his New York hush-money case. A Manhattan jury on Thursday convicted him on all 34 felony counts.

Reid J. Epstein contributed reporting.

Reid J. Epstein and Michael Gold

Fingers point as Biden closes the border to asylum seekers.

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At the beginning of his remarks from the White House on Tuesday announcing that he would prohibit migrants from seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, President Biden tried to make clear just whose fault it was that he was taking action by executive order.

The White House, Mr. Biden said, had struck an agreement with congressional Republicans earlier this year on what he called the “strongest border security agreement in decades.”

It did not take. Republicans bailed on the deal.

“Why? Because Donald Trump told them to,” Mr. Biden said. “He didn’t want to fix the issue. He wanted to use it to attack me. That’s what he wanted to do.”

On this, Mr. Biden proved correct.

Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee set to face Mr. Biden in the general election, indeed attacked the president a couple of hours before his border announcement. Mr. Trump, who has made hard-line immigration policies the center of his political identity since the start of his 2016 campaign, derided Mr. Biden’s executive order as too little action taken too late, and he argued that it was timed to benefit the president politically.

“After nearly four years of his failed weak leadership — pathetic leadership — Crooked Joe Biden is pretending to finally do something about the border,” Mr. Trump said in a video posted to his social media site. “But in fact, it’s all about show, because he knows we have a debate coming up in three weeks.”

The former president’s rhetoric echoed much of the reaction from allied Republicans. The Republican National Committee has adopted the alliterative “Biden’s Border Bloodbath.” Representative Richard Hudson of North Carolina, the chairman of the House Republicans’ campaign arm, predicted that voters would be so angry about the border that “in November they will deport House Democrats from their seats for enabling this crisis.”

And Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, a rival of Mr. Trump’s during the presidential primary who has become a staunch surrogate, criticized the executive order as a “Band-Aid” that would do little to curb border crossings. “President Biden would rather posture than do anything meaningful to secure our southern border,” he said in a statement.

Democratic reaction centered largely on blaming Mr. Trump and Republicans for not taking the deal they had negotiated earlier this year.

“President Biden sent Congress a comprehensive immigration reform plan on Day 1, and repeatedly requested more border resources from Congress, only to be blocked by Republicans,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, a key Biden ally whose office listed actions she had taken to “secure the border” with Mexico, which is about 1,500 miles from her home state — though the one with Canada is just across the Detroit River.

Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut said he was “skeptical” that Mr. Biden’s executive order would withstand legal scrutiny. Yet he, too, blamed Republicans for forcing the president’s hand.

“Rather than working with Democrats to solve the problem, they’ve ensured we just have more of the dysfunctional status quo when Americans want the exact opposite,” Mr. Murphy said.

Luke Broadwater

Reporting from the Capitol

After Trump’s conviction, House Republicans vow again to target his foes.

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House Republicans have spent the past 18 months vowing to use their majority to attack what they claimed was a “weaponization” of government against conservatives, including the prosecutions of former President Donald J. Trump, but have made little headway in doing so.

But following Mr. Trump’s felony conviction last week, they are promising again to use every congressional tool at their disposal to avenge their party’s leader, seeking to show their fealty and fire up the G.O.P. base.

Speaker Mike Johnson on Tuesday announced a “three-pronged approach” for how Republicans on Capitol Hill would push back against the prosecutions of the former president.

Mr. Trump was convicted last week of 34 counts of falsifying business records, prompting widespread outrage in the G.O.P. and a rush by Republicans to capitalize politically on it. Mr. Trump faces three other criminal cases, including two brought by the Justice Department over his handling of classified documents and his attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

“We’re looking at various approaches to what can be done here,” Mr. Johnson said at a news conference, “through the appropriations process, through the legislative process, through bills that will be advancing through our committees and put it on the floor for passage, and also through oversight. All those things will be happening vigorously, because we have to do that because the stakes are too high.”

Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, laid out some of the proposed cuts in a letter to the Appropriations Committee, which determines spending levels.

Mr. Jordan recommended prohibiting taxpayer funding for any new F.B.I. headquarters facility; eliminating any federal grants for those prosecuting Mr. Trump, including Alvin Bragg in Manhattan, Fani Willis in Atlanta and Attorney General Letitia James of New York; and cutting all funding for the special counsel Jack Smith’s office.

“We have rogue prosecutors around the country that have drug President Trump through this process because of who he is,” Mr. Johnson said. “Everybody knows if it wasn’t him, the charges in Manhattan would never have been brought.”

Mr. Jordan also pushed for cuts to federal law enforcement last year, including some of the same ones he is proposing now, and other Republicans introduced bills to defund Mr. Smith’s office, but the G.O.P. did not have the support in its own ranks to win passage of any of those measures, and they were never enacted.

Chris Cameron

Primaries will cement a crucial Senate race in Montana.

Primaries today in Montana will officially kick off a closely watched Senate race, where Senator Jon Tester, a Democrat, is expected to face off against Tim Sheehy, a Republican who is the heavy favorite to win the primary after former President Donald J. Trump squeezed out a rival right-wing candidate by endorsing Mr. Sheehy early.

The race against Mr. Tester represents one of Republicans’ best shots at taking back the Senate this year. The seat is one of just three rated by the Cook Political Report as a tossup race, with most other seats listed as leaning toward Democrats.

Three more states and the District of Columbia will hold presidential primaries today, some of the last contests before the Republican and Democratic nominating conventions this summer.

In addition to the presidential primaries, Montana, New Mexico and New Jersey will hold primary contests for Senate and House candidates, while South Dakota and Iowa will host House primaries.

Representative Andy Kim of New Jersey is also the favorite to win the nomination for the Senate seat held by Senator Bob Menendez, who is on trial on bribery charges and has filed to run for re-election as an independent.

Mr. Kim was once an underdog, facing an uphill battle against Tammy Murphy, the wife of Gov. Philip D. Murphy, and the powerful Democratic Party machine backing her in the race. Ms. Murphy ultimately dropped out of the race, transforming Mr. Kim’s position from the scrappy insurgent to the clear front-runner.

President Biden and Mr. Trump are the presumptive nominees of their respective parties, but many other candidates are still on the ballot in today’s presidential contests, and three of the states have “uncommitted” or “no preference” ballot options, leaving open the potential for a protest vote against either candidate.

Reid J. Epstein

Reporting from Washington

Ad Watch

A climate group is running ads on Biden’s policies in Wisconsin and Michigan.

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A climate group with ties to Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State is running $1 million of television advertising in Michigan and Wisconsin that aims to highlight President Biden’s record on renewable energy.

The ads, which feature two Democratic governors, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Tony Evers of Wisconsin, are among the most significant third-party ads to be broadcast in presidential battleground states so far this cycle.

The group funding them, Evergreen Collaborative, was founded by staff members of Mr. Inslee’s 2020 presidential campaign. Over the past three years, the group spent about $2.5 million on issue advocacy ads in Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin to promote the Inflation Reduction Act, a Michigan clean energy bill and federal pollution standards.

The new ads are set to begin broadcasting on Tuesday and will run for three weeks in Milwaukee and in the Flint and Grand Rapids television markets in Michigan.

What the ads say

Evergreen’s Michigan ad features Ms. Whitmer playing up Mr. Biden’s record — as well as her own — on investing in renewable energy in the state.

“Make it in Michigan,” Ms. Whitmer says while standing in what she says is a job-training center. “It’s what we’re doing every single day.”

As footage of Mr. Biden at the Detroit Auto Show rolls, Ms. Whitmer says that “batteries that used to be made in China are being made all across our state,” an appeal to voters who have been attracted by the anti-China policies of Mr. Biden’s Republican rival in the presidential race, former President Donald J. Trump.

The Wisconsin ad doesn’t show Mr. Evers until the end. It focuses on solar projects, which the ad says will power 750,000 homes in the state.

“Governor Evers is working with the Biden administration to do even more,” the ad’s narrator says as photos are shown of Mr. Evers and Mr. Biden touring a Milwaukee factory last summer. “Your home value goes up and your energy bill goes down.”

The ad concludes with footage of Mr. Evers’s annual State of the State address. “Wisconsinites, this is the future we spent years working hard to build together,” he says.

What the ads are trying to do

These ads are an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of Ms. Whitmer and Mr. Evers, who polls show are far more popular than Mr. Biden in their states.

Because Evergreen is technically an issue-advocacy organization, it is prohibited from making an explicit push to vote for Mr. Biden, but the message here is not subtle. The Michigan ad, with Ms. Whitmer wearing a leather jacket and speaking from a factory floor, could be a Biden campaign ad on its own. The argument boils down to: You like what I’ve done, so support President Biden.

Neither ad mentions the Inflation Reduction Act, the $891 billion law Mr. Biden signed in 2022. Relatively few Americans have heard of the law, and the Democratic Party’s top strategists have discouraged campaigns from referring to it by name.

Instead, with these ads, Evergreen is seeking to remind voters that something they like — building car batteries in Michigan and using solar power in Wisconsin — is brought to them by the Biden administration. Less than six months out from the presidential election, Mr. Biden has failed to convey that message to voters, leaving supportive outside groups and Democratic governors to do it for him.

Election Updates: Montana’s Senate race is set: Tim Sheehy will face Jon Tester. (2024)

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