Republican Bryan Steil and Democrat Randy Bryce emerged as replacements for Speaker of the House Paul Ryan as primary races were settled in Wisconsin, Connecticut, Minnesota and Vermont on Tuesday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 15 (UPI) -- Voters in Wisconsin determined Tuesday which candidates will be on the ballot to replace retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan, as one of four states settled primary elections.
Republican businessman Bryan Steil, who was endorsed by Ryan, won the party's six-way race with about 50 percent of the vote. He will face Democrat Randy Bryce, who handily defeated his opponent Cathy Myers Tuesday.
Steil, a University of Wisconsin regent who described himself as a "problem solver," defeated a field that included conservative activist Paul Nehlen, who was banned by Twitter for posting racially insensitive tweets, and U.S. Army veteran Nick Polce.
Bryce, an ironworker, raised more than $6 million and won the endorsements of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and labor activist Dolores Huerta. During the campaign, he was criticized by Myers for multiple past arrests, including a DUI, and delinquent child support payments.
Sen. Leah Vukmir defeated Marine Corps veteran Kevin Nicholson in the Republican Senate primary for the right to face incumbent Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin in November.
"I never thought that I would be standing here before you now as your candidate for the United States Senate. I am honored and thank you for the support you have given me," Vukmir said.
She won the party's official endorsement and was favored by four members of the state's Republican congressional delegation, including Ryan. She also faced some controversy, though, after video surfaced of her calling President Donald Trump "offensive to everyone."
Nicholson accepted the election result and pledged to support Vukmir.
In addition to the races in Wisconsin, three other states -- Minnesota, Connecticut and Vermont -- also settled final ballots Tuesday.
Incumbent Democratic Sen. Tina Smith, appointed this year to replace Al Franken after a sexual misconduct scandal, handily won her nomination Tuesday with more than 70 percent of the vote in the six-person field, which included former White House ethics counsel Richard Painter.
Smith will face GOP nominee Karin Housley in the first U.S. Senate race between two women in Minnesota history.
"It's inspiring for all young women out there that they can make a difference," Housley said.
"It is a year when women feel particularly enthusiastic about stepping into the public arena, and I think that's a good thing," Smith said.
State Rep. Ilhan Omar defeated a field of five other Democratic candidates seeking to fill the district seat vacated by Rep. Keith Ellison.
Omar, who came to the United States as a refugee more than two decades ago, could become the first Somali-American member of Congress if she wins the seat.
"We started this campaign to prove people are ready and willing to fight for an America that works for all of us. To every staff member, volunteer, donor and voter, this win is just as much yours as it is mine," she said. "Together, we will move our district, state and nation forward."
Democrat Tim Walz and Republican Jeff Johnson won nominations Tuesday for the state's open gubernatorial seat. Johnson, with the state Republican Party's backing, beat former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who was attempting a comeback eight years after he left office.
Walz, a six-term congressman from a district that backed Trump by 15 points in 2016, won a five-way race for the nomination.
Democrat Jahana Hayes and Republican Joe Markley will battle in November for control of the House seat being vacated by Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Esty in January.
Hayes, the 2016 National Teacher of the Year, won an endorsement from New York Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and will look to become the state's first black Democrat to serve in Congress.
Santos, a former Meriden mayor, won the state GOP's endorsement, defeating candidates Rich DuPont and Ruby Corby O'Neill.
"A win for Republicans in this state is also a win for the people of this state. It is also a win for the taxpayers," he said.
Democrat Ned Lamont and Republican Bob Stefanowski will square off this fall for the state's open gubernatorial seat. Lamont claimed about 80 percent of the vote.
"We are fighting for Connecticut values, not Trump values. This is a state that celebrates diversity and opportunity for all," Lamont said, referring to Stefanowski as a "new breed of Trump Republican."
Stefanowski, a former banking officer, became the first candidate in Connecticut history to petition for a spot on the ballot and win a major party nomination for state office. He overcame a five-candidate field that included Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.
"I don't think anybody really thought we would be standing up here right now. We've proved them wrong and we're going to prove them wrong when we beat Ned Lamont in November," he said.
Christine Hallquist became the first transgender person nominated for governor by a major party, defeating three Democratic candidates for the right to face Republican Gov. Phil Scott on Nov. 6.
Hallquist's campaign platform includes a $15 minimum wage, Medicare for all and free higher education, as well as expansion of renewable electricity and high-speed broadband access. She spent 12 years at the Vermont Electric Cooperative before running for governor.
"What my transition has taught me is just how far we have to go," she said.
Scott defeated store owner Keith Stern, who challenged the incumbent on his decision to endorse gun control bills, expand background checks on private firearms transfers and limit magazine sizes.
"I want to thank those Republicans who have stuck with me through thick and thin and all those who have put aside partisanship to engage in the primary," Scott said. "It says something very important about Vermont, about the type of candidates we want to nominate, and the good work my team and I have done to grow the economy, make Vermont more affordable and protect the most vulnerable."