Races to watch throughout the West

The midterm elections promise to be a referendum on Joe Biden — and Donald Trump.

 

Photo illustration by Julia Lubas/High Country News

Midterm elections are always a bit strange. On the one hand, there’s no presidential contest to reverberate down the ticket to state and local races, so the latter are able to stand on their own. At the same time, voters tend to express their feelings about the current administration at the midterm ballot box, especially in congressional races. But this year is especially weird, because not only is President Joe Biden’s performance a factor, but former President Donald Trump still looms over everything.

We scoured the West to bring you a sampling of notable — and hotly contested — races and referendums. 

  

 

U.S. House of Representatives, at large:

Mary Peltola, D, vs. Sarah Palin, R., vs. Nick Begich, R., vs. Chris Bye, Libertarian 

Peltola, who became the first Alaska Native to serve in Congress by winning a special election in August, will face Trump-backed Palin again in November.

  

Governor: 

Katie Hobbs, D., vs. Kari Lake, R.

Hobbs, a veteran of Arizona politics, takes on former news anchor and Donald Trump-loyalist Lake in a bid to become the purple state’s first Democratic governor since 2009. 

U.S. Senate: 

Mark Kelly, D., vs. Blake Masters, R.

White nationalist and Trump-supporter Masters, bankrolled by arch-conservative venture capitalist Peter Thiel, hopes to unseat Kelly, who was elected in 2020.  

Ballot measure:

Proposition 308 would repeal 2006’s Prop. 300, allowing non-citizen residents to receive in-state tuition. 

 


Ballot measures:

Proposition 30 would increase the tax on personal income above $2 million by 1.75%, with the revenue going toward electric vehicle projects and wildfire prevention. 

Proposition 26 would legalize sports betting at tribal casinos. 

  

U.S. House of Representatives, 3rd District:

Lauren Boebert, R., vs. Adam Frisch, D.

Former Aspen City Councilman Frisch hopes to bring bipartisanship back to a district represented by gunslinging Trump protégée Boebert since 2020. 

Ballot measures:

Initiative 58 would decriminalize certain psychedelic plants and mushrooms, including mescaline and psilocybin, and classify them as natural medicines. 

Initiative 108 would dedicate one-tenth of 1% of state income tax revenues to fund housing programs.

  

Ballot Measure:

Proposition 1 would increase state income taxes on high-income individuals and corporations and allocate the revenue to public education.

U.S. House of Representatives, 2nd District (newly formed):

Monica Tramel, D, vs. Ryan Zinke, R.

Zinke, a former congressman and Trump’s scandal-plagued first Interior secretary, takes on Tramel, a former Olympic rower who grew up on a Montana ranch.

 

U.S. House of Representatives, 2nd District:

Gabe Vasquez, D., vs. Yvette Herrell, R.

Former Las Cruces City Councilman Vasquez, a first-generation American who has worked on conservation and Borderlands issues, hopes to unseat fossil fuel-friendly Herrell in a district that includes the Permian Basin, the nation’s busiest oilfield.  

 

Governor:

Steve Sisolak, D., vs. Joe Lombardo, R.

Former Clark County Sheriff Lombardo has swung rightward on gun control and immigration in his bid to unseat incumbent Sisolak.

Ballot measures:

The Equal Rights Amendment would prohibit discrimination on account of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, ancestry or national origin. 

The Nevada Minimum Wage Amendment would increase the minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2024.

 

Governor:

Tina Kotek, D., vs. Christine Drazan, R.

A progressive Democrat takes on a moderate Republican to replace the term-limited Democratic governor, Kate Brown.

Ballot measures:

Measure 111 would add the following language to the state Constitution: “ensure that every resident has access to cost-effective, clinically appropriate and affordable health care as a fundamental right.” 

Measure 114 would require permits for firearms and prohibit
ammunition magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds. 

 

State House District 69:

Davina Smith, D., vs. Phil Lyman, R.

Smith is vying to become the first Diné woman to serve in the Utah Legislature. She faces Lyman in the race to represent the state’s southeastern corner, which contains parts of three tribal nations and has long been a Sagebrush Rebellion hotspot. 

 

U.S. House of Representatives, 4th District:

Dan Newhouse, R, vs. Doug White, D.

Newhouse, one of the few Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, is hoping to hang on to his seat in this conservative rural district that covers most of central Washington. He’s challenged by Doug White, a moderate Democrat. 

  

U.S. House of Representatives, at large:

Lynnette Grey Bull, D., vs. Harriet Hageman, R.

Grey Bull (Northern Arapaho) is waging a “David and Goliath” campaign against Hageman, who unseated incumbent Rep. Liz Cheney in the primary. Grey Bull has been active in social justice campaigns, helping the homeless and bringing attention to missing and murdered Indigenous women. Hageman has spent most of her career fighting environmental regulations, earning her the moniker “Wicked Witch of the West.”   

 

Photo illustration images, clockwise from top left: Greely Heights subdivision in Warm Springs, Oregon (Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs); Donald Trump embraces Harriet Hageman (Natalie Behrig); Fruit bodies of a hallucinogenic mushroom (Wikipedia commons); An image from Farrow’s military encyclopedia, 1885 (Internet Archive Book Images); San Francisco’s “I voted” sticker (Tim Olsen); Davina Smith at a longhorn parade in Kanab, Utah (Davina Smith for Utah State House)

Jonathan Thompson is a contributing editor at High Country News. He is the author of Sagebrush Empire: How a Remote Utah County Became the Battlefront of American Public Lands. 

We welcome reader letters. Email High Country News at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor. See our letters to the editor policy.

Note: This story was updated to reflect that Davina Smith, if elected, would be the first Diné woman in the Utah Legislature, not the first Indigenous woman.

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