Factbox-Four key races in Wisconsin, Minnesota midterm primaries

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[August 09, 2022]  WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Voters in states including Wisconsin and Minnesota will pick candidates for the U.S. Congress and other offices in primaries on Tuesday, in another test of former President Donald Trump's influence in the Republican Party ahead of the Nov. 8 midterms.

Vermont and Connecticut also hold nomination contests, while Minnesota holds a special election for its currently vacant 1st Congressional District. Following are four key races:

WISCONSIN REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR'S PRIMARY

In its final stretch, the Republican nomination contest for Wisconsin's gubernatorial race has become a proxy battle in the rivalry between President Donald Trump and his former Vice President, Mike Pence.

Trump endorsed construction company owner Tim Michels in June, upending a race that until then was led by former state Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch. By the end of June, Kleefisch and Michels were neck-and-neck in a poll by Marquette Law School.
 


Pence then endorsed Kleefisch in late July, setting up the third high-profile race this year in which Pence and Trump backed opposing candidates. In the previous contests, Pence-backed Georgia Governor Brian Kemp won the party nomination for his re-election bid, while Trump-backed Kari Lake, a former news anchor, won the Republican nomination for the Arizona governor's race.

Pence, who like Trump is considering running for president in 2024, has recently distanced himself from Trump's repeated falsehoods about a stolen 2020 election.

MINNESOTA SPECIAL CONGRESSIONAL ELECTION

Democrats on Tuesday face an uphill battle to gain the U.S. House of Representatives seat left vacant following the death in February of Republican U.S. Representative Jim Hagedorn.

Ahead of Tuesday's special election, Republican Brad Finstad, a former agriculture official in the Trump administration, was ahead of Democrat Jeff Ettinger 46% to 38%, according to a public opinion poll conducted in the last week of July by Survey USA.

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Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch announces that Republican Governor Scott Walker's campaign is going to seek a recount in the race for the governor of Wisconsin at a mid-term election night party in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, U.S. November 7, 2018. REUTERS/Nick Oxford

Political observers have said the race could be close after Ettinger, a former CEO at Hormel Foods, spent early on television ads making the case that his business experience set him up as a problem solver on run-away food prices.

WISCONSIN DEMOCRATIC U.S. SENATE PRIMARY

In the race to challenge Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, Wisconsin's Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, a progressive backed by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, is expected to win the Democratic nomination after a leading moderate opponent dropped out of the race in late July. The focus now shifts to Barnes' ability to appeal to moderate voters in the race against Johnson, which could be one of November's tightest and most consequential Senate races.

MINNESOTA REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR'S PRIMARY

Former Minnesota state senator Scott Jensen, the Republican frontrunner to win the party nomination for the governor's race in November, vows he will try to ban most abortions in the state.

Despite the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade, abortion remains legal under state law in Minnesota. Jensen recently said he supports abortion rights in cases of rape or incest.

Jensen, a physician who has cast doubt on the seriousness of COVID-19, would challenge Democratic Governor Tim Walz if he wins the nomination. Walz is seen as potentially vulnerable in November.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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