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story.lead_photo.caption Paula Nicholson casts her ballot Tuesday in rural Kieler, Wis., in the state’s primary elections. Wisconsin was one of four states with primaries Tuesday, seen as a measure of the strength of President Donald Trump’s coalition against the energy of Democratic voters.

MADISON, Wis. -- A one-time Donald Trump skeptic seized a Republican nomination for governor Tuesday, while Vermont Democrats picked the nation's first transgender nominee for governor to represent them in November.

The results came as voters across four states cast ballots and the 2018 midterm season lurched toward its finale.

In the Midwest, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker won the right to seek a third term, while former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty lost the Republican primary to County Commissioner Jeff Johnson.

Both Walker and Pawlenty criticized Trump before he became president, but they have since rallied behind him.

Meanwhile, accusations of domestic violence involving the Democratic National Committee's second-in-command threatened to undermine Democratic enthusiasm, particularly in Minnesota, a state where women dominated on Tuesday.

Vermont, Connecticut, Minnesota and Wisconsin all held primaries Tuesday.

All but 10 states will have picked their candidates for November's general election by the time the day's votes are counted. While the full political battlefield isn't quite set, the stakes are clear: Democrats are working to topple Republican control of Congress and governors' offices across the nation.

In Vermont, Democrat Christine Hallquist won the Democratic nomination in her quest to become the nation's first transgender governor. The former chief executive of Vermont Electric Cooperative bested a field of four Democrats that included a 14-year-old.

Hallquist will face a tough fight in November: Republican incumbent Phil Scott remains more popular with Democrats than members of his own party in the solidly liberal state.

Vermont Democrats also nominated Sen. Bernie Sanders, who hasn't ruled out a second presidential run in 2020, for a third term in the Senate. The 76-year-old democratic socialist won the Democratic nomination, but he is expected to turn it down and run as an independent.

Democrats appeared particularly motivated in Wisconsin, where eight candidates lined up for the chance to take on Walker, a two-term incumbent who has warned his party about the prospect of Democratic gains.

Walker's strong anti-union policies made him a villain to Democrats long before Trump's rise. State schools chief Tony Evers, who has clashed with Walker at times, won the Democratic nomination and will take on Walker this fall.

Once a target of Trump criticism, Walker gained the president's endorsement in a tweet Monday night calling him "a tremendous Governor who has done incredible things for that Great State."

In Wisconsin's Senate primaries, Republican Leah Vukmir won the party's nomination to face Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

Vukmir, who was backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, beat out former Marine Kevin Nicholson.

Tuesday's primaries served as a test of Democratic enthusiasm in the upper Midwest, a region that has long been associated with liberal politics but has been trending red. Trump won Wisconsin by less than 1 percentage point in 2016, becoming the first Republican presidential candidate to carry the state since 1984.

Two women won Democratic Senate nominations: Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Tina Smith, who had been appointed to replace Democratic Sen. Al Franken.

Meanwhile, a new scandal threatened to roil Minnesota politics.

Rep. Keith Ellison, the Democratic National Committee's deputy chairman, captured his party's nomination in the race to become the state's attorney general. That's after Ellison's candidacy was rocked by allegations over the weekend of domestic violence during a broader national outcry against sexual misconduct by powerful men in business, entertainment and politics.

Ellison has denied a former girlfriend's allegations that he dragged her off a bed while screaming obscenities during a 2016 relationship she said was plagued by "narcissistic abuse."

Pawlenty, a former two-term governor, might have been the biggest name on Minnesota's ballot.

He was seen as the leading Republican candidate in the high-profile race to replace outgoing Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.

Johnson won Tuesday despite Pawlenty's enormous fundraising and name recognition advantages.

Johnson branded the former two-term governor as part of the "status quo" and bashed him for calling Trump "unhinged and unfit for the presidency" in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election.

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz defeated state Rep. Erin Murphy and Attorney General Lori Swanson for the Democratic nomination.

Also in Minnesota, Democrat Ilhan Omar, the nation's first Somali-American legislator, won her party's congressional primary in the race to replace Ellison.

In Connecticut, Madison businessman and political newcomer Bob Stefanowski won the Republican nomination to replace the unpopular outgoing governor, Democrat Dan Malloy.

Former gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont won the Democratic nomination.

Information for this article was contributed by Kyle Potter of The Associated Press.

A Section on 08/15/2018

Print Headline: GOP, Democratic races set in four states

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