WASHINGTON -- Voters in Connecticut, Minnesota and Wisconsin head to the polls for primary contests Tuesday, with crowded GOP fields in several high-profile contests. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) faces a long-shot challenge from a man with a very similar name, Republicans are vying to succeed Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), and one of Wisconsin's most conservative state lawmakers is making a bid for Congress.
In Wisconsin, election observers also worry that there may be confusion over whether voters will need to show photo identification to vote. (They won't.) Although the state Supreme Court recently ruled that the law is constitutional, it will not be in effect Tuesday. But the American Civil Liberties Union in Wisconsin told The Associated Press that it's worried people who don't have the proper ID will be discouraged from voting.
"There's certainly some potential for confusion," said Larry Dupuis, an attorney with the group. "There's always some risk because if people only see a headline or the beginning of a TV news report and the takeaway is it's been upheld, there's a risk people won't look beyond that. And there's also the rumor mill."
MINNESOTA GOVERNOR: Though Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson has the state Republican Party's endorsement in the race to challenge Gov. Mark Dayton (D), he's locked in a competitive primary with businessman Scott Honour, former state House Minority Leader Marty Seifert and former House Speaker Kurt Zellers. Whoever wins the GOP nomination will have a shot at ousting Dayton: Though polls have found a majority of voters approve of his performance as governor, he led Johnson by just 6 points in a June KSTP/SurveyUSA poll. The gubernatorial map is considered favorable to Democrats this cycle, so the state is one of the few where the GOP has an opportunity to move into the governor's mansion.
WISCONSIN-6: Four Republicans are vying to replace retiring Rep. Tom Petri (R) in the most high-profile race in the state Tuesday. The man with the biggest target on his back is state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R), who has made a name for himself championing conservative causes. He sponsored legislation that repealed the state's Equal Pay Enforcement Act, fought for a seven-day workweek and proposed a bill that would have considered single parenthood "a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect." State Sen. Joe Leibham (R) and state Rep. Duey Stroebel (R) also describe themselves as conservatives, although Leibham has stressed his ability to build consensus and Stroebel has talked up his business background. The fourth candidate in the primary race, Tom Denow, is a political newcomer and is considered the dark horse candidate. The winner of the GOP primary will face Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris (D). The district leans Republican.
MINNESOTA-6: It's the end of an era, as Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) is retiring after four terms in the House. The state's 6th District voters will no longer have a representative who has called for a 100 percent tax on remittances sent to Latin America from undocumented immigrants, claimed that "the gay community" has "bullied the American people" and "intimidated politicians," and charged that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the highest levels of the U.S. government. Bachmann, a founder of the House Tea Party Caucus, can now devote her time to the children and foster children she has at home, though she has said she will stay involved in politics and is still under investigation for alleged campaign finance violations from her 2012 presidential campaign. Conservative radio host, attorney and former state Rep. Tom Emmer is the favorite to succeed Bachmann, though he must first beat Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah in Tuesday's GOP primary. Emmer, who barely lost to Gov. Mark Dayton (D) in 2010, has name recognition, as well as endorsements from the state Republican Party and Bachmann. He supported an amendment to the state's constitution that would allow for federal laws to be ignored at the discretion of the state and would define Minnesotans as "sovereign individuals," and he is known for his denial of climate change and strong distaste for marriage equality.
CONNECTICUT GOVERNOR: Two Republicans are competing to take on Gov. Dan Malloy (D) this fall. The race is between Tom Foley, the businessman who received the GOP nomination in 2010 but lost to Malloy, and John McKinney, the state Senate minority leader. Foley had an unfortunate press conference in late July, when he appeared at a closed mill intending to highlight the failed policies of Malloy. But supporters of Malloy commandeered the event, and Foley ended up telling attendees -- including workers at the mill -- that the closure was their own fault. McKinney ran a last-minute ad after the debacle that called Foley "arrogant, ill-informed, uncaring." A poll in May showed Foley with a wide lead over McKinney.
MINNESOTA SENATE: In the 2008 race for this seat, Al Franken (D) eked out an exceedingly narrow victory over then-Sen. Norm Coleman (R) in a drawn-out battle that went from a recount to a legal challenge. Now, he's waiting to see whom he will face in November in what may be another close contest. Financial executive and investment banker Mike McFadden has a sizable amount of cash in the bank and the state Republican Party's endorsement, though he faces a handful of lesser-known primary opponents. McFadden may want to shrug off his reputation for avoiding specific answers to policy-based questions if he moves on from the primary, though he faces a delicate balance in appealing to the state's moderate voters as well as tea party activists, who have bitterly told him to "go to hell" for avoiding them. Franken is running television ads highlighting his work on behalf of constituents in the Senate, in the hopes of cultivating a pragmatic, bipartisan image. He is staying away from references to his former career as a political satirist, radio host and "Saturday Night Live" star.
WISCONSIN-1: There's little chance that Rep. Paul Ryan (R) will lose his primary contest Tuesday, but Jeremy Ryan wants to try. Jeremy Ryan, who is not related to the congressman, is also known as "Segway Jeremy Ryan" because he rode around on one of the two-wheeled vehicles during the labor protests at the state Capitol in 2011. He does not live in the district but would reportedly move there if elected. According to the GazetteXtra, Jeremy Ryan also considers himself a progressive in the tradition of Republicans such as former President Teddy Roosevelt.
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