Primary elections were underway Tuesday in Wisconsin and Minnesota, two Upper Midwestern U.S. states where Democrats hoped to regain strength that has been eroded by President Donald Trump's popularity among working-class voters.
Democrats seem to be particularly energized in Wisconsin, where Trump was the first Republican presidential candidate to win in 32 years, although by 1 percentage point, in the 2016 elections. Eight Democratic candidates, led by state schools superintendent Tony Evers, are vying for the chance to oppose Republican governor Scott Walker in the November mid-term elections.
In Wisconsin's Senate primaries, Republicans are trying to deny Democratic senator Tammy Baldwin a second term in office. The effort is being led by two Trump supporters, former Marine Kevin Nicholson and state lawmaker Leah Vukmir.
Union organizer Randy Bryce and educator Cathy Myers, both Democrats, are locked in a bitter fight to win the seat of retiring Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan.
In Minnesota, where Trump lost by less than 3 percentage points and where a Republican presidential contender has not won since 1972, voters will choose candidates for governor, the Senate and the House.
Democratic senator Tina Smith is on Tuesday's ballot as she seeks her first full term. She replaced fellow Democrat Al Franken, who resigned in December amid multiple allegations of unwanted sexual touching. Smith faces Democrat Richard Painter, a former ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush.
Three progressive women are leading the race to replace Democratic Representative Keith Ellison – the first Muslim elected to Congress – in the primary for Minnesota's 5th Congressional District. They are: state senator Patricia Torres Ray, the first Latina in the Minnesota Senate, former Minnesota House representative Margaret Anderson Kelliher, the second woman to serve as Minnesota House Speaker, and the nation's first Somali-American legislator, freshman state representative Ilhan Omar.
Former two-term governor Tim Pawlenty is the leading Republican candidate in the race to replace outgoing Democratic governor Mark Dayton.
The Democratic field for governor features U.S. Congressman Tim Walz, state Representative Erin Murphy and Attorney General Lori Swanson.
Primary contests are also being held in the heavily Democratic northeastern states of Vermont and Connecticut.
Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has not ruled out a second run for the presidency in 2020, is seeking a third term as senator.
In Connecticut, five Republicans and two Democrats are battling to replace outgoing Democratic governor Dan Malloy.