As lunchtime nears on the West Coast, voters continue to pour into line at the Centennial Center Election Day polling location in northwest Las Vegas on Tuesday.
Of the many voters CNN spoke with in the parking lot, most were Republican and cited inflation, immigration and election integrity as their biggest concerns.
“I think there’s a lot of excitement about this [election] from the right,” said Rob Crowe, a 61-year-old technical recruiter who is celebrating his birthday on Tuesday.
He was at the polls with his 53-year-old wife, Cyndi, who said she prioritizes election integrity, law and order and education, among other issues.
“We want to turn Nevada red again,” said Theresa Y., a 57-year-old security officer, who has lived in Nevada for 40 years and voted for former President Trump in both 2020 and 2016.
“The economy is just out of control,” she said, citing high gas prices, grocery prices, and the struggle for women to buy baby formula and diapers.
“Starting with the governor, [it] is going to change,” she said.
“When Donald Trump was in office, the world was a whole different place. It was a good place,” James Hernandez, a 58-year-old retired union electrician, told CNN.
Now, the economy is “tanking,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez noted that even as a former union worker, he is voting Republican.
“That tells you something,” he said.
David Fox, a 66-year-old Republican, told CNN he voted Tuesday because it is his “patriotic duty.” Fox, who voted for former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt for the GOP Senate nomination, said that Trump’s endorsement of Laxalt “locked me in.”
For her part, Chris Peterson, a 66-year-old Las Vegas resident, said that while she used to switch between parties, she now votes solidly Republican.
Like many other GOP voters in Nevada, she is concerned about the economy and immigration.
Peterson voted for candidates Joe Lombardo for the GOP gubernatorial nomination and Sam Brown for the GOP Senate nomination. She said he likes that Brown is a political newcomer and appreciates his time in service.
While she would vote for Laxalt in the November general election, she believes he “is using his family name.”
“I don’t believe in political dynasties,” she said.
Tom Stiles, who was at the polls with his wife and two sons Tuesday, stressed election integrity as the issue that matters most to his family.
While Stiles, who said he would like to eliminate ballot harvesting, would not disclose who he voted for, he told CNN the secretary of state election was of importance to him and his family.
He voted for people who prioritize election integrity, he said. The voter said he would like to see “more readily accessible information” about voting.
“Voter information is really, really bad here,” he said. “We spent hours looking for info about the candidates running.”
Almost all the noteworthy primaries on Tuesday will be on the Republican side. The biggest one on the Democratic side will be in Nevada.
Rep. Dina Titus’ district was significantly redrawn during redistricting. That has left her vulnerable in the fall, as Biden won her old district by more than 25 points and her new one by 9 points. It has also left her vulnerable to a primary challenge.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is among many progressives backing Amy Vilela. Titus was a relatively early Biden backer in the 2020 campaign, and she has been endorsed by the powerful Culinary Workers Union in her reelection bid.
The 2022 primary season has been marked by back-and-forth wins by progressives and mainstream Democrats. No side has truly dominated, so this will be another test of how much the left really is rising.
If Vilela is able to come away with the win, expect this to become a top target for Republicans in the fall. Even if Titus holds on, this could be a district to watch.
A Republican win against Titus would mean that they’re having a very good election night in November.
If Rep. Tom Rice hopes to win a renomination against his Republican challenger Russell Fry, he’ll need a big turnout in Horry County, South Carolina — the population center of the expansive 7th Congressional District.
Rice is not only a native of Horry (whose “h” is silent), he once served as chairman of the county council and is a prominent attorney and accountant in the Myrtle Beach area.
But Fry, who former President Donald Trump has endorsed, is also from Horry – specifically Surfside Beach. Fry will count on pro-Trump voters to turn out across the district, which stretches inland through the Pee Dee region and to the North Carolina border. If he can cut into Rice’s Horry County base, though, it might be a disappointing night for the incumbent.
Voters outside a polling place in Conway, the seat of Horry County, provided an uncertain barometer for Rice’s chances. Speaking to CNN underneath the broad canopy of a live oak on the grounds of the Conway library, some said they pulled the lever for Rice in spite of or even because of his vote to impeach Trump.
“I think it’s important he has seniority up there,” said Sean Kobos, who noted that Rice would have a prominent perch on the House Ways and Means Committee if Republicans take back the majority. “I think we have to think about the district.”
Kobos said he didn’t agree with impeaching Trump but dismissed Trump’s effort to oust Rice. “I think it’s just vindicative,” he said.
One woman from Conway, who declined to give her name because of her job, said she and her husband both voted for Rice in order to push back against Republican animosity over the impeachment vote.
“I don’t think he should be punished for it,” she said.
That was the view of Richard Lovelace, a regular Democratic voter who voted in the open primary for Rice.
“He is the antithesis of my political thought pattern, but he stood up to Trump,” Lovelace said. “In the face of the hurricane, he didn’t back off.”
Lovelace said Rice’s reputation in the community should help him, despite Trump’s ire. And he even predicted GOP voters would turn away from the former President.
“I’m starting to see some erosion of support for Trump among my stalwart Republican friends,” Lovelace said.
But that was not the view of several other voters in Conway who spoke to CNN. Tim Roper, who left the library to find his correct polling place, said Rice abandoned his “good intentions” after being in office.
“He voted to impeach Trump,” Roper said. “He’s not a true Republican anymore.”
Roper said he did not know who in the crowded field he would be supporting, but others said they lined up behind Fry after Trump endorsed him.
“What Trump’s endorsement did was change the numbers, especially among people who were on the fence,” said Charlie Parrish, who voted for Fry. Like Rice, Parrish is a lawyer, and he said the impeachment vote was not constitutionally sound.
“I like Tom Rice. I know him personally,” Parrish said. “He’s not going by what the law says. He’s going by what Tom says.”
Beyond Fry, there are other Republicans vying for the nomination. Although they are unlikely to win, their presence could keep the top two candidates below 50% and force a runoff in two weeks. Lindsey Hilbourn told CNN he voted for Spencer Morris, a pharmacist and small-business owner from Georgetown County.
“I saw the debate on TV, and he impressed me,” Hilbourn said. Asked who he would support in a runoff between Rice and Fry, Hilbourn said he would go with Fry.
“I was on the Trump bandwagon,” he said. “When [Rice] voted for impeachment, that kind of soured me on him.”
Dean and Melissa Thompson said they voted for Ken Richardson, a Horry County school board member. The couple said they did not consider voting for either Rice or Fry.
“They’re both bought and paid for by the Chamber of Commerce,” Melissa Thompson said.
But in the event of a runoff between those candidates, the couple said they would likely cancel their votes out. Melissa Thompson said she would have to vote for Fry because Congress needs “fresh blood” and she always tries to vote against incumbents.
Her husband Dean Thompson, on the other hand, said while he opposed Rice’s vote for impeachment, he’d support him in a runoff.
“That’s the only thing he did wrong,” he said.
Read more about the South Carolina races here.
There might not be a better test of how much loyalty to former President Trump matters than in South Carolina’s congressional primaries on Tuesday. In two races, Trump decided to make endorsements against incumbents.
In the 1st District, Trump is backing Katie Arrington over Rep. Nancy Mace. Mace didn’t vote to impeach Trump like some other Republicans. Rather, she was merely critical of him at numerous points in his presidency.
In the 7th District, Trump has endorsed Russell Fry over Rep. Tom Rice. Rich, unlike Mace, did vote to impeach Trump in his second impeachment trial. Rice has a generally conservative voting record, though that may be enough to save him.
Just 35% Republicans indicated to the Pew Research Center last year that the GOP should be accepting of those who voted to impeach Trump.
It should also be noted that Trump’s endorsement has seemed to matter more in federal than state elections. Trump-backed candidates have lost in a number of high-profile gubernatorial elections (e.g. Georgia). Only the scandal ridden Rep. Madison Cawthorn has lost a federal primary this cycle when being endorsed by Trump.
In none of those previous federal races, however, did Trump back a non-incumbent against an incumbent.
Republican candidate Adam Laxalt has already turned to the general election in his closing message to supporters as he toured the state. But challenger Sam Brown, a retired Army captain and Purple Heart recipient, still sees the GOP primary for US Senate as a two-man race.
At the Desert Breeze Community Center in Las Vegas, registered Republican Kelley Carr had not made up her mind as she stepped into line at the polling place.
“It’s tough. Laxalt, he’s the favorite, I suppose,” Carr told CNN. “But I think I’m interested in seeing something new. Most of us are tired of seeing the same people running over and over or the families of the same people running over and over. I like both of them so I’m not quite sure.”
Carr was referring to Laxalt’s failed candidacy for Nevada governor in 2018 and his political lineage — Laxalt is the grandson of former Nevada governor and US Sen. Paul Laxalt.
Brown has been receiving considerable support from grassroots Republicans, who are drawn to his story and message as an “outsider” candidate. Brown is counting on Republicans like Carr to help him pull an upset.
“I’m still waffling,” Carr said. “I think until I get in there and select, it’s about a 50-50 for me. So I’m not quite sure.”
Four states – South Carolina, Maine, North Dakota and Nevada – are holding primary elections on Tuesday.
There’s also a special election in Texas’ 34th Congressional District to fill the last few months of Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela’s term. Vela announced in April that he would resign.
Early and mail-in voting has already ended in many of the states, but for voters heading to the polls, here’s a look at when they close:
7 p.m. ET
8 p.m. ET
- Texas’ 34th Congressional District
9 p.m. ET
- North Dakota is split between Central and Mountain Time. Polls will start closing in some parts of the state at 8 p.m. ET and close across the state at 9 p.m. ET.
10 p.m. ET
Read more about today’s primaries here.
While some of the members who voted to impeach the then-President in January 2021 have chosen to retire or have primaries later in the summer, Republican Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina will face a competitive GOP primary with a Trump-endorsed challenger. (In a district next door, another Republican House member who has crossed Trump, Rep. Nancy Mace, has her own Trump-backed opponent.)
Trump has been committed to ousting Rice and even held one of his campaign-style rallies here in Florence in March to help state Rep. Russell Fry, the 37-year-old Republican he’s chosen to boost in the crowded field.
While both campaigns admit it’s possible no candidate gets 50% of the vote and the top two will go to a runoff in two weeks, the results will indicate the strength of Trump’s influence in the deep-red 7th District.
On Monday, during a final campaign event here, the second-largest population center in the district, Fry served fried rice to supporters as a play on the leading candidates’ names.
“Who’s ready to fry some rice tomorrow?” Fry punned to cheers.
Rice’s vote to impeach Trump — which came after the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by Trump supporters — has remained a central issue in the primary, and Fry has worked to remind Republican voters of what many view as a betrayal of Trump. Calling himself a “committed, America First conservative,” Fry said Rice has lost touch with his voters.
“He has forgotten who sent him to Washington and where he came from,” Fry said.
But Rice has not run away from his vote.
“Obviously I do stand by my impeachment vote,” Rice told CNN. “I don’t think it was a brave decision. I thought it was the right decision. It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing.”
Asked whether he feared it would cost him his election in the primary on Tuesday, he replied: “I don’t think it will cost me my election, but if doing the right thing costs me my election, then I’ll wear it like a badge.”
At a campaign stop Monday near Pawley’s Island, just south of his hometown Myrtle Beach, the 64-year-old congressman held forth about gas prices, inflation and the elephant in the room: impeachment.
One man thanked him for what he called a brave vote.
Keep reading here and watch Jeff Zeleny’s report on today’s South Carolina primary elections:
There is perhaps no state that will tell us the story of the 2022 general elections more than Nevada. It’s a state that President Biden only won by 2 points in 2020, and one where there is a marquee Senate race on the ballot.
If Republicans are able to knock off Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto in November, they will likely win a majority of seats in the US Senate.
The question is who will be the Republican to take on Cortez Masto. For the longest time, it looked like former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt. But combat veteran Sam Brown has ridden a late surge, including being the only Senate candidate to be endorsed at the state Republican convention.
Laxalt, for his part, is endorsed by a slew of politicians, including former President Trump. Even a close race here would have been inconceivable a few months ago. Teamed with Trump-backed Ryan Zinke barely winning in Montana last week, it would be a sign that Trump’s endorsement may not be as valuable as many think.
Regardless of who wins the primary, Nevada will be busy in the fall. Beyond the Senate election, there will be competitive races for governor and in three of the four congressional districts.
On a breezy morning in northwest Las Vegas, voters are filing in and out of the Centennial Center Election Day polling location. There is a line of constituents outside the tent, located in a Home Depot parking lot. Some parents have taken their children to vote with them, others are stopping by before heading to work for the day.
Colette B., a mom of two boys from Las Vegas, told CNN the number one issue driving her to the polls Tuesday was “having my voice heard.”
She said local issues such as education and “more freedom in what they teach instead of it being so strict” are important to her, as her 5-year-old son will be starting kindergarten in the fall.
Lucinda Norman, a 60-year-old who works at a Casino on the Las Vegas strip, told CNN that “corruption,” “immigration,” and the “economy” are the issues she cares about most.
Norman, who voted for former President Donald Trump in 2020 and 2016, said economic issues only recently started to affect her life. She said the coffee she buys regularly used to be $2.94, and now it costs $5.
“It’s out of control,” Norman said.
Norman said she voted for candidate Joey Gilbert for the GOP gubernatorial nomination and candidate Sam Brown for GOP nomination for US Senate.