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CNN Live Event/Special

Election Night in America: The Midterm Primaries. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 17, 2022 - 19:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Tonight, the nation is turning to Pennsylvania, a major battleground in American politics. From the three rivers in Pittsburgh, to the striking green home of the Capitol building in Harrisburg, heart of government in the commonwealth, to historic Independence Hall in Philadelphia, voters across Pennsylvania are making choice that will impact control of a U.S. Senate and potentially influence the 2024 presidential race.

Welcome to CNN's coverage of "Election Night in America: The Midterm Primaries". I'm Jake Tapper.

We're standing by for results in what is sure to be an eventful election. The political spotlight on key primary races in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Kentucky, Idaho and Oregon.

In Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Republican senators are retiring, creating two open seats. Both Democrats tonight will bring more clarity as to the direction of the two major parties. It's also a significant new test of former President Trump's grip on the Republican Party and President Biden's sway over the Democrats. As both weigh a potential rematch in 2024.

Perhaps the biggest test of the Trump factor is his pick in Pennsylvania's Republican Senate race. Former TV Dr. Mehmet Oz has Trump's endorsement and name recognition, yet right now, Oz is locked in a three-way competitive primary race against former hedge fund CEO, Dave McCormick, and a relatively unknown conservative Kathy Barnette, who made a late surge.

Barnett has a compelling personal story, as she tries to make history as the first black Republican women in the Senate. But he's also gained attention for her anti-gay and anti-Muslim bigotry, as well as her unfounded denial of the 2020 election results.

Another key test to Trump's clout, the Republican governor's race in Pennsylvania. The former president has endorsed controversial state senator Doug Mastriano, another one of Pennsylvania's leading supporters of Trump's bogus claim, that he won 2020 election. Mastriano is running against former congresswoman Lou Barletta, former U.S. attorney Bill McSwain, and businessmen Dave White.

On the Democratic side, we are watching a dramatic twist in the Senate primary in Pennsylvania. The leading candidate, lieutenant governor, John Fetterman, undergoing surgery today, to receive a pacemaker after suffering a stroke on Friday. His top opponents are congressman and former Marine Conor Lamb from the Pittsburgh area, and State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta, from Philly.

We are watching graces from coast to coast.

Let me bring in my colleague, Erin Burnett -- Erin.


And, you know, in less than 30 minutes, voting ends in North Carolina. So we really right up against it right now. Trump backed Congressman Ted Budd is taking on one of the states most well-known Republicans, the former Governor Pat McCrory, as well as former Congressman Mark walker.

And on the Democratic side there, Cheri Beasley is hoping to make history in November as the first black U.S. senator from North Carolina. Now, we're about to learn if Trump's support is going to help here, specifically with incumbent Congressman Madison Cawthorn. The question is whether he can survive his Republican primary. One time rising star of the right, Cawthorn's first term has been plagued by multiple scandals and controversies. And now, State Senator Chuck Edwards and other primary rivals are hoping to put an early end to Cawthorn's congressional career.

Meantime, on the other side of the country, Oregon. President Biden made his first endorsement of the midterm campaign, backing the incumbent congressmen, centrist Democrat, Kurt Schrader. Schrader, though, is facing a strong primary challenge from the progressive wing of the party, Jamie McLeod-Skinner.

And we're standing by first results and a lot of exciting races. There's so many of them tonight. Jake, all the twists and turns to get us to this moment in the past few days, nobody could've predicted it.

TAPPER: It's very exciting, Erin.

Let's check in on the marquee race of tonight. The GOP Senate primary in Pennsylvania.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny is at Mehmet Oz's campaign headquarters in Newtown, Pennsylvania. That's in the Philly suburbs.

Jeff, what are you hearing from the Oz campaign about his prospects this evening?


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, just slightly less than an hour of voting left to go here in Pennsylvania. There is cautious optimism among advisers and friends and supporters of Dr. Mehmet oz. He is, tonight, in the key suburbs of Philadelphia, Bucks County.

That is the whole rationale for his candidacy, and for the endorsement of the former President Donald Trump. He said, specifically, he believes that Dr. Mehmet Oz, of course, a TV celebrity, making his first bid for public office, can perform well here. In fact, outperformed what Mr. Trump did in 2020, and indeed in 2016. These are the critical parts of Pennsylvania.

But there is optimism and worry among his supporters as well. Did they overlook Kathy Barnette in this race?

Jake, one of the people watching this is the former president. He's told his friends that he believes this is his biggest gamble yet in the 2022 midterms season, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much.

Now, to the Democratic centre primary Pennsylvania. The late breaking news on the front runner, lieutenant governor, John Fetterman, getting a pacemaker planted today, even as voting was underway.

CNN's Jessica Dean is at Fetterman campaign headquarters in Pittsburgh.

Jessica, what can you tell us about Fetterman's condition this hour?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that he is just out of that procedure, Jake. He said to be headed to a full recovery, that if went very well, he actually tweeted just recently, he said I just got out of procedure to implant a pacemaker with a deflator in my heart. We've got the all clear that it was successful, and I'm on track for a full recovery. He said, now it's back to resting and recovering.

Now, all of this coming as earlier today, he cast his ballot from his hospital room, using an emergency absentee ballot. That's how he voted for himself. Not what we expected to see today. We'll be watching the returns from that hospital, in Lancaster, at Lancaster General Hospital. That's about four hours from where I'm standing right now in Pittsburgh, where we are expecting his wife, Gisele, to address the court. Of course, he was supports to be here tonight. He's considered the front runner, but again, we should see his wife later this evening. Lieutenant governor doing much better.

TAPPER: Jessica, you don't want to translate the word yinz there for us? The yinz was in that tweet, I believe?

DEAN: It is yinz. I believe that's for you, all of you, y'all. It's like the southern word y'all.

TAPPER: Right, it's a Pittsburgher, a Pittsburghism, I should say. Jessica, thank so much.

DEAN: That's right, that's right, that's right.

TAPPER: And, Dana, it may be for Lieutenant Governor Fetterman that this happens so late in the race.

But, Dr. Reiner, I have to ask you, how serious is this? We're told, and it's all just from him. We haven't heard anything directly from his doctors, but the lieutenant governor, Dr. Reiner, that he had a minor stroke. Now, we are told that he's doing great. He's on his way for a full recovery. But putting a pacemaker, and that's a big deal.

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: He had more than a pacemaker placed, Jake. He had a defibrillator placed. And defibrillators are only placed for people who really have a substantial existing heart disease.

So we were told, few days ago, that the lieutenant governor had a stroke, in the setting of atrial fibrillation, which is not expected. What is very unexpected is the implantation of a defibrillator, just days after a stroke. And what this means, really is that they found early substantial heart disease brought, probably a weakened heart, we should probably also be the cause of his atrial fibrillation.

Now, having said all that, you know he can and should completely recover from this, but what it does disclose is that his heart disease appears to be more substantial than previously disclosed.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And, Dr. Reiner, let me just pick up on that, because you are somebody -- not only are you a world-renowned cardiologist, you're somebody who has dealt with politicians.


BASH: Namely the former vice president, Dick Cheney. What does it tell you that they are not only doing this procedure, but announcing it today?

REINER: It's either a remarkable coincidence that they announced of the procedure in the middle of sort of voting. This procedure almost certainly would have been scheduled for a couple of days. They would have identified the problem, which would have been the status of the contractility, the ability of the heart to squeeze, when he was admitted to the hospital. And they would plant this procedure over the last few days. So, the disclosure during active voting is an unfortunate circumstance.

What we -- when we cared for the former vice president, we learned very early that, just come out with the entire story, come out with the truth. The truth is the truth. And that's really the most, I would say, satisfactory way to talk to the public about it, just tell the truth.

And when you hear these disclosures, the sort of piecemeal, it makes you wonder, what aren't you hearing?


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDDENT: And, Dr. Reiner, I know there's probably going to be a lot more on this, because as you heard Jessica say, is the front runner in this race. I think voters will have a lot of questions about what this means for his campaign, going forward. Thanks for joining us. Back to you, Jake.

TAPPER: Thanks, Abby.

Polls closed in Kentucky a short while ago. And CNN can now make a key projection.

CNN projects that incumbent Senator Rand Paul wins the Republican primary in the commonwealth of Kentucky. Paul easily prevailing against lesser known challengers, as he seeks a third term in the U.S. Senate. The often provocative, libertarian leaning Republican will now face the winner of the Democratic Senate primary in November.

As we count down the first results out of North Carolina, we're getting new information about the mood of the country. What's on the mind of voters in the Tar Heel state, and all across the United States?

Stay with us to find out on this exciting election night in America.


BURNETT: These are live pictures from Raleigh, North Carolina, one of the states holding high stakes primaries tonight that will help save the battle for control of Congress in November. This is a really crucial night.

And we are awaiting the first results out of North Carolina right now. Polls closed there just moments from now.

So, I want to go, as we await that, to David Chalian at our polling desk.

And, David, you know, as we come into this, the sense of the mood, and what people voting are thinking and feeling. You've got a new national poll breaking tonight. What matters in it?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yeah, that's right, Erin. Tonight's primary night sets up a major midterm election in November. So, we want to get a sense of the mood of the country and where things stand.

First, our brand-new poll of polls on the president approval ratings. You see that President Biden has a 40 percent approval rating in the CNN poll of polls, 55 percent disapprove. This is a huge warning sign for Democrats. The presidents party, this is not what they would like to see the presidents number come November.

We also asked folks to get a sense about how things are going in the U.S. Look at this, Erin. 65 percent of Americans in our brand-new poll tonight say they are concerned about how things are going in the U.S. Only 4 percent excited, 10 percent optimistic. Even one in five say they are scared.

We also wanted to check in on the issue matrix here, what is driving peoples vote across the country. Number one issue, by far, six in ten Americans say it is the economy, followed by 30 percent that say it's domestic or social issues. Only 3 percent say foreign policy.

And then we also wanted to get a sense of just how people are feeling about politics in America. Look at this. A majority of Americans, 53 percent, basically say they are burned out on politics. 23 percent, nearly a quarter, say they are fired up. 24 percent say neither.

Let's look at that across party lines when it comes to those who say they are fired up. Thirty-three percent of Republicans say they are fired up. That's true of only 25 percent of Democrats. And 14 percent of independents say that.

This is that enthusiasm advantage on display that we've been talking about for the Republicans, in this midterm political climate, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. David, thank you very much.

OK. What does this mean?

Chris Wallace, let me start with you. When you look at a situation where the incumbent president situation is deteriorating even from April, and here we are in mid May, and you look at one in five people are scared, 65 percent concert, 60 percent worried about the economy. They are not fired up.

If this is what we are seeing nationally, if we're seeing it in Pennsylvania and North Carolina tonight, what does it mean?

CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANALYST: This isn't a shot across the bow of Joe Biden and the Democrats. This is a shot made traffic. They are taking on water. You look at the first midterms after a new president, that's what we've got, a new president for 2020, this is his first midterm. That's always tough for the incumbent party, the party of the president, on average. Since World War II, one Senate seat lost, 23 seats lost in the House.

If that were to happen here, Republicans take back both the Senate and the House. But it gets even worse than that because if the president's approval rating is below plus five, and according to this poll we just heard from David, it's minus 15, then, on average, in a midterm, the presidents party loses 39 seats in the House.

I don't have to remind my friend David Axelrod about 2010 --


WALLACE: -- when the Democrats lost 64 seats in the House. That could be a good night compared to what happened this November.


AXELROD: I still have the tire tracks on my rear end from that. I remember it very well.

That's not going to happen this time only because there are fewer competitive districts than there were back in 2010. But, look, we just saw the doctor giving his report on Lieutenant Governor Fetterman. If you are a doctor and you're looking at this chart, you would look at these vital signs are very, very bad.

And the last one on enthusiasm is a big concern for Democrats. One of the reasons incumbent parties do so poorly in midterms as it's hard to galvanize your base when you are the incumbent. People come out to vote, their anxiety, their protest, their -- rarely their affirmation.

And right now, there's a lot of energy behind the Republicans. And so, you know, what Democrats are hoping is tonight that Republicans will nominate candidates who will be poor general election candidates, that is really the hope you hear Democrats articulate.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: How pathetic is it, honestly, that you have to hope that the other side is going to do your work for you, because you can't do your own work? I think it's a real problem for them.

A number I was kind of looking at is that 53 percent of voters who are burned out. We understand the. We under -- you know, of course, we understand why. I was talking to Republican pollster the other day who said, he did a focus group. He said, what Republicans wanted was somebody to rescue them from this malaise and excite them and fight for them. And he said to me, oh, I think it's the same on the Democrat side.


They want to fighter, which is why Fetterman appeals to Democrats. They want a fighter, maybe that's why Barnette appeals to Republicans. If you are sick and tired of this you are not enthusiastic, and you're burned out, who can you go to?

BURNETT: Well, I mean, this is the big question of course. As I mentioned, we are closing in right now just a few minutes away from voting in North Carolina. So, less 10 minutes from those polls closing, that is the first big test of former president Trump's hold on the Republican Party. Will Trump's support help scandal-plagued Congressman Madison Cawthorn keep his job, or will a top primary rival knock him out of the running? Just one of the many races, even in North Carolina, they're so crucial tonight.

We are standing by for those results after this.




TAPPER: We are just minutes away from the end of voting in the beautiful North Carolina, where former President Trump's grip on the Republican Party is being tested tonight, ahead of a crucial midterm battle for control of the House and Senate.

In the GOP Senate primary, Congressman Ted Budd has Trump's endorsement against political veterans, former Governor Pat McCrory and former Congressman Mark Walker. They're all vying for a place retiring Republican, Richard Burr, for a seat that may be crucial in deciding the balance of power in the U.S. Senate this fall.

We are also watching a key house race in western North Carolina, and the fate of the very controversial incumbent Congressman Madison Cawthorn. Cawthorn has been under fire by some of the states top Republicans, despite having Trump's support. Cawthorn is facing multiple primary challenges, including state Senator Chuck Edwards.

And in central North Carolina, former college football player and political newcomer, Bo Hines, is Trump's pick for the House seat in the state's newest congressional district. His most well-known opponent in a crowded field is former congresswoman, Rene Ellmers.

The first results of North Carolina are just minutes away. Let's go to the headquarters right now of Republican Senate candidate Ted Budd. CNN's Eva McKend is there in Bermuda Run, North Carolina.

Eva, how much help does Budd expect to get tonight from Trump's endorsement?

EVA MCKEND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, Congressman Ted Budd heads into election night feeling pretty good, and the clear favorite to take on Democrat Cheri Beasley in the general election.

He actually was endorsed by the former president almost a year ago. So, he's been able to benefit from quite some time. A win for Congressman Budd would be a win for Trump. I was actually on the campaign trail this week with Congressman Budd, and I asked him if he attributes a potential victory -- if he would attribute that to the former president.

He told me it was the former president that sort of woke up the base here and got them interested in his campaign. So, we will have to see tonight Congressman Budd's closest opponent, former Governor Pat McCrory -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Eva, thank you so much.

Now, let's go to another Trump-endorsed candidate, the embattled North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn.

Dianne Gallagher is at Cawthorn campaign headquarters in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

Dianne, what are you learning about Cawthorn's contacts with former President Trump in the final hours before the election?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, I spoke with Congressman Cawthorn just a little bit ago, and he tells me that he talked on the phone with former President Trump yesterday, just a little while after he posted that sort of get out the vote message on the Truth Social platform, acknowledging the foolish mistakes in Trump words that Cawthorn had made, but encouraging voters to give him a second chance.

Now, Cawthorn tells me he is confident and that he believes, quote, his brand of conservatism is going to be victorious in North Carolina tonight, offering some sort of rebuke of what he calls the establishment, which has worked so hard to unseat him. He, of course, Jake, acknowledged the potential awkwardness that is in-store if he does in fact win tonight, with North Carolina's delegation, specifically, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis.

TAPPER: All right. Dianne, thank you so much.

And now, let's go to John King.

You know, John, it feels like North Carolina is a red state. But then you have to remember, their governor is a Democrat. A Democrat can win there statewide.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Can, can. The question is, in this midterm, your -- especially with the dynamics just laid out by David Chalian, can a Democrats get something.

To your point, though, Jake, I'll start here. Since you mentioned, we have a 50/50 Senate. That's why all the primaries matter. North Carolina currently has a Republican incumbent who is leaving, Senator Burr.

The same with Pennsylvania, which we'll get to later, but let's come back to North Carolina, because the Trump endorsement, this is the one the places where we see the power of the Trump endorsement. You see Congressman Ted Budd, he was trailing the former Governor Pat McCrory early on it. It was the Trump endorsement that helped him give him a boost, and that outside money coming into the race.

Btu this we're seeing in a lot of states, three conservative candidates, three very conservative candidates on the ballot for Republicans tonight. You mentioned, this is the state Republicans think they're going to win in November. But remember, look how close it was, 49.9 to 48.6. This was a close race.

You see the blue areas here, that's what we'll watch tonight. The Republicans believe this is the year to make a comeback in the suburbs. Donald Trump hurt them in the suburbs, so watch the votes around Charlotte, around Raleigh, around Durham, around Winston-Salem, and out in Nashville.

And as Eva was just talking about, in addition to the Senate race, we're also, of course, watching for this House race, the one we are watching most of all out here, Jake, Madison Cawthorn's race, Chuck Edwards is the leading candidate, the Republican can -- very conservative western part of the state. The question for Madison Cawthorn, can you get 30 percent? If he does, he avoids a runoff. We'll watch as we count votes in just a few seconds.

TAPPER: All right, John King, thank you so much.

And we are just moments away from the end of voting in North Carolina, at 7:30 p.m. Eastern, awaiting the first results from the pivotal U.S. Senate primaries. On the Republican side, this will be the first big test of the night, of former President Trump's endorsement power.

So, let's get a key race alert.


TAPPER: Well, it's too early to call the Republican Senate primary North Carolina right now, with Trump back congressman ted but faces former Governor Pat McCrory, and former Congressman Marc Walker. It's also too early to call North Carolina's Democratic Senate primary, where the party has essentially cleared the field for its preferred candidate, former state Supreme Court chief justice Cheri Beasley.

Now, in the battle for the House, it's too early to call for the race in North Carolina's 11th congressional districts with the congressional incumbent, Congressman Madison Cawthorn is facing multiple Republican primary challengers. And it is also too early to call the Republican primary in North Carolina in its 13th congressional district. That's where political newcomer Bo Hines is trying to win a seat in Congress, with Trump's endorsement -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Jake, as we await those first results from North Carolina, I want to go to David Chalian, because one thing that you know, you just heard Jake talking about, there with John king, the role of the former President Trump, what these races mean for him?

So, David, what you have there?

CHALIAN: Yeah, and I think it's important to think about this on two different tracks, Erin. There's, President Trump sort of endorsements record, but there's also the fact that President Trump's implements on the party is clear, throughout all these candidacies, whether he backed them or not.

Take a look at the national NBC news poll of Republican primary voters, taken just a few days ago. 55 percent of Republican primary voters think Trump should lead the Republican Party, a majority of Republicans. A third say he was a good president, but it's time for new leaders. Only 10 percent of Republicans, as you would expect, would say he was a bad president, and it's time to move on.

Will the Trump endorsement make you more likely to support a candidate? This Quinnipiac University poll says, overall, with the entire electorate, only 18 percent say the Trump endorsement is going to make them more likely to support a candidate. But among Republicans, it's 45 percent of Republicans, who say that Trump endorsement makes them more likely to support a candidate.

And then, we wanted to take a look at sort of the importance of the candidate support for Trump, in a Republican primary. And this is an interesting split. If you look at extremely important, and very important, that's 27 percent, and 23 percent, that adds up to half, 50 percent, say it's extremely or very important for their candidate to support Trump. Whereas, 28 percent, somewhat important, 22 percent say not at all important.

Again, half. So half of the Republicans say, extremely important, very important. And this is in the state of Pennsylvania, we should make clear. This is a Fox News pulling in Pennsylvania, they have said it's only somewhat or not at all important.

And, Erin, for that scorecard that we're talking about, this is what we're tracking, going into tonight. Donald Trump had some key victories, with JD Vance and Ohio Senate race, with Alex Mooney in that West Virginia congressional race. They won with his backing. He had one loss, so far in may, big loss. Charles Herbster, gubernatorial candidate in Nebraska that to be back. He did not make it through.

But this is what it's at stake tonight for the former president, and his own brand and power in the party. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano, the gubernatorial candidate, Ted Budd as we were just discussing in North Carolina, Madison Cawthorn in his race for reelection to become the nominee.

And Janice McGeachin, the lieutenant governor out of Iowa, who's challenging the governor there inside the Republican Party and doing so with Trump's backing. We're going to learn a lot about Trump's personal power to help these candidates get over the finish line in Republican primaries, Erin.

BURNETT: All right, David.

And, you know, pretty incredible, as we all know there is nobody who is tracking the loss more closely than Donald Trump himself. All right, so let me ask you, because I hear all this, and you're saying, wow, 55 percent of GOP, you know, want Trump to lead their party, 50 percent, his endorsement, extremely important and influential in their vote.

OK, those numbers sound enormous. Yet, months ago, it was 80 percent of the Republican parties who supported Donald Trump. So, do you see this as wow, these numbers are big? Or, do you see it differently?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They're not insignificant, but tonight's going to be revelatory of the future of his power of his endorsement. I'll be looking into Pennsylvania, where former administration officials, like Mike Pompeo for example, endorsed the former president. If that ends up being successful, that's going to chip away at the power of that endorsement.

And one thing I note about Ted Budd in North Carolina, he had the perfect storm of an endorsement, where he both had an early Donald Trump endorsement, but also a very powerful Club for Growth. So he benefited from both sides of that, which other candidates have not had that.

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I was going to add to Alyssa, I think candidates matter here ultimately, right? People look at the president's endorsement, and it matters.


But as you saw in Governor Herbster's case, it did matter so much, right? I mean, JD Vance, and -- in Ohio, and Mooney, both very solid candidates. Herbster is not that great of a candidate. We're going to -- as Alyssa points out, we're going to see tonight

whether or not people believe that Dr. Oz is a good candidate. I think they may not. I think they may break against Dr. Oz and we'll see if the president's endorsement is enough to get him by.

BURNETT: And I should note, of, course you were donor to --

URBAN: Donor and supporter to Dave McCormick, who I think is going to win.

BURNETT: Just putting it out there.

Go ahead, Van.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, a couple of things. First of all, Trump may win some, tonight loosen tonight. But Trumpism is winning everywhere. And that's what's terrifying Democrats. If you told us, a year and a half ago, that you couldn't even be a viable Republican, unless you signed off to these election lies, and about down and kiss the ring, at least theoretically, you think that's not possible. And that's where we are.

I think to your point, it's not just the big mouth of Donald Trump. There is also the big money. And you are already starting to see some tracks here. Club for Growth has done some stuff to go against Trump. So, Club for Growth, there is a big pile of money that's being weaponized, and I think there are people now trying to go right or front, you can go around Trump.

But at the end of the, day we're looking at tonight, and we're going to see that Trumpism has won everywhere whether Trump wins or not.

BURNETT: Right. Because even the candidates he does not support, almost all of them, I mean, they're in a race to see you can be more Trumpy, David?

URBAN: Oh, that's correct. I mean, everybody gets up and says, like, I'm the most Trumpy candidate here, right? I'm always for the most conservative candidate who can win in the general elections. I think what's the Republicans need to step back, right?

Everybody can be more Trumpy than the next person, with anyone in the fall? Pennsylvania is a purple state, traditionally. And being the most Trumpy candidate, not necessarily the best outcome.

BURNETT: All right. We're going to see. I mean, that's going to be fascinating to see that, and of course.

All right. Thanks to all who are going to be with us throughout this important evening, as we expect the first results out of North Carolina at any moment. We got back key alert, those numbers feeding in, feeding in.

And we are also looking ahead to some of the hottest races tonight in Pennsylvania, because polls close there at the top of the hour. So, counting down to that. We'll be back in a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


TAPPER: And we have a key race alert for you right now in the Tar Heel state of North Carolina, on the Republican side for the Senate Republican primary race, Congressman Ted Budd is in the league. He has 3,718 votes ahead of governor, former Governor Pat McCrory. Budd has 50.4 percent of the vote, McCrory 35.6 percent, former Congressman Mark Walker pulling up in third place with 5.8 percent.

We should caution you, it's early. This is only 3 percent of the vote in, but as of right now, Ted Budd, oh, more votes came in, 50.2 percent of the vote over McCrory, 33.3 percent, and Walker with 9.0 percent.

On the Democratic side for the Senate race, the former state Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley is way ahead, 88.9 percent of the vote, over Rett Newton who has 0.9 percent of the vote. The Democrats in the Tar Heel State basically clear the race for Cheri Beasley, and she is more than 50,000 votes ahead, John King.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And, Jake, if you look at the map, the key point you just made is very early. We're at 3 percent of the estimated voting. But, Ted Budd does have an early lead. You'd rather be ahead than behind at any point in the race. And if you look at the map as it fills in, it's just about everywhere, McCrory so far wedding Mecklenburg County, which is number one county in the state by population.

So you always live with the people are, Charlotte in the suburbs around. But is just one county, we're going to watch the votes come in. Just remember, Trump's run really strong in this moral rural counties. That's where we question, Trump voters coming up.

Rural voters versus urban voters, the key dynamic in all parties, especially in Republican Party as we learned, who does the Republican base want in this election year, this is the Senate race so far in the Republican side. We're going to wait and count more votes.

Just want to take a quick look out here, Madison Cawthorn, obviously the Republican incumbent in the 11th congressional district, again, a lot of about 11 of the in this district, southwest corner of the state -- 34 percent, 35 percent, around that up to 40 percent there, 468 votes. Again, it reminds you of the rules here. State law matters, 30 percent.

As long the winning candidate is above 30 percent, you are the nominee. In some states, this should be a runoff, if it ended up like this. But 34 percent would be enough to win if that holds up, Jake, as we watch this count up. 34 percent for Madison Cawthorn, 30 percent for Chuck Edwards. There are a handful of other candidates in this race as well, not expected to be contenders, but we'll watch the votes play out.

And as you know, I just want to pop back out, look at the Democratic side. This is a tough race for the Democrats. But Cheri Beasley, former state Supreme Court justice, winning nearly 90 percent of the vote so far, Democrats essentially cleared the field for her, an uphill race. But one of the -- in a 50/50 Senate, every one of those counts as we go through, Jake.

And just take one more quick peek at the Senate race before we go, still at 3 percent, Ted Budd at 51 percent, leading for now, a lot of votes to count.

TAPPER: Yeah, a lot of counting to do, John King. Thanks so much.

As we stand by for more votes in North Carolina, we're heading into another critical hour, as polls begin to close in places such as Pennsylvania. Voters across the commonwealth are making their mark on the midterm election landscape.

But first, Pennsylvania results, straight ahead. Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we have a new projection to share with you right now. CNN projects that Cheri Beasley wins the Democratic Senate primary in North Carolina. She is the former chief of justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. You will face the Republican primary winner for the seats now held by a Republican, the retiring Senator Richard Burr.

If Beasley wins in November, she would be the first black U.S. senator to represent North Carolina.

But, Abby and Dana, I have to say it's going to be difficult for a Democrat to be elected statewide in North Carolina, in these midterm elections, with so much of the win at the Republicans back.

BASH: Certainly, it will be difficult for Democrats. I, what is fascinating about this Democratic race, the one Jake just called is that this was pretty much a foregone conclusion, that the leadership cleared the field for her to win. What we are waiting for tonight, and what's really will be determinative of whether or not this is a GOP see the Democrats can flip, of course, is who the Republican is going to be.

PHILLIP: And I think the question tonight, in the state, a lot of states we've been looking after the last several weeks, is you're seeing a divided Republican primary. You're seeing Republican voters split between two, three, or more voters.

And the question on the Republican side is can they unite? Democrats have already done that.


And that even in a tough environment, that gives them a bit of a head start. We should also remind people, Trump won the state by just 1.3

percentage points. So, it's an uphill battle, but not a runaway Trump say by any stretch of the imagination.

TAPPER: And we are closing in on the end of voting in Pennsylvania. And the very first results from the marquee Pennsylvania primary tonight, with longtime TV doctor, Mehmet Oz, vying for the Republican Senate nomination against two top rivals, including a relative unknown conservative who has suddenly become a serious contender.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.


TAPPER: And CNN can now make a major projection. In the state of North Carolina, CNN projects that Congressman Ted Budd wins the Republican Senate nomination.


That's a key victory for a candidate endorsed by former President Trump.

Budd defeating two political veterans including the state's former governor. Budd will face the winner of the Democratic Senate primary winner, Cheri Beasley, for a seat now being held by retiring Republican, Richard Burr.

And we have a key race alert for you right now. In the House of Representatives, Congressman Madison Cawthorn is facing period headwinds in his race for reelection. He is losing right now with 36 percent of the vote in to State Senator Chuck Edwards. Chuck Edwards with 37.8 percent of the vote, 3,944 votes ahead of the incumbent Congressman Cawthorn.

Now, there is still quite a bit of vote to count, but that is a significant moment for Madison Cawthorn. You better hope that these trends don't continue that way.

Just minutes from, now polling places close in Pennsylvania closely watching the primary. President Biden and former president Trump, both have a stake in these competitive races.

On the Republican side, former TV Dr. Mehmet Oz has Trumps endorsement. Yet Oz is locked in a tight battle with former hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick, and conservative commentator, Kathy Barnette. Barnette has gained attention for anti-gay and anti-Muslim bigotry and her unfounded denials of the 2020 election results, but also a personal -- a compelling personal story.

In a Democratic Senate primary, Lt. Governor John Fetterman spent this election day getting a pacemaker implanted after having a stroke on Friday. We will see if that impact his race in any way against Congressman Conor Lamb and State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta. All these representatives are fighting for an open seat now held by Republicans, a see that could be critical in deciding control of the U.S. Senate this fall.

As we countdown to the end of voting in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I'm joined by Anderson Cooper.

Anderson, there's another big race we are following in the commonwealth.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yeah, there certainly is, Jake. Pennsylvania's Democratic governor is term limited and a slew of Republicans are competing for the job. Though Trump made a late endorsement of State Senator Doug Mastriano, a vocal champion of Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. President Trump actively urged voters not as support former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, saying he failed to act to overturn the presidential election.

Mastriano, McSwain, former Congressman Lou Barletta, and businessmen Dave White are at the top can Sanders vying for the nomination.

Now, the Democratic race for Governor, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is running unopposed, Jake.

TAPPER: Anderson, thanks so much.

Let's go to Jeff Zeleny, he is at Mehmet Oz's campaign headquarters in Newtown, Pennsylvania, right outside of Philly.

Jeff, you are hearing more about the Trump factor in the Oz campaign. Tell us.

ZELENY: Jake, we are. And really, with just a couple minutes to go before the polls closed, the central question hanging over this entire race was the former president's endorsement enough to pull Dr. Mehmet Oz across the finish line? As late as last evening, there was deep worry, which is the former president called into a Oz rally and said Oz is truly MAGA. He truly supports the movement. Well, the voters will determine the.

Jake, this whole primary, and expensive one of, that some $70 million spent alone, have made one thing clear: Trump clearly controls the Republican Party, but can he control his own movement? That will be determined tonight. We will are told by friends that he is nervously eyeing the outcome here in Pennsylvania -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jeff, thanks so much.

Let's go to Athena Jones now. She's with Kathy Barnette Senate campaign headquarters in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.

Athena, where is Barnette hoping to do well this evening? Where are her parts of Pennsylvania?


Well, I want to mention that Kathy Barnette just enter this room, a big roar, cheers went out a few minutes ago as she came in, thanking her supporters and hugging people. They are expecting her to do well in eastern Pennsylvania. Her campaign say they are feeling great, that she is going to be seeing a lot of late breaking voters move her way.

They expect to see her do well in places like Bucks County, Brooks County, also the Philadelphia area. And they believe that she has done the work and that she will be rewarded for it by crisscrossing the state, traveling hundreds of miles. She believes she's going to -- a lot of voters, and it will supporter. Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Athena Jones, thanks so much. Thanks so much.

John King, some -- it's nail-biter's going on in Pennsylvania right now.

KING: Remember, it took us a week to count the votes last time in Pennsylvania the presidential race, Jake. You know the commonwealth well, it's home to you. So, you know about 40 percent of the voters are right here, Philadelphia and the collar counties surrounding it, about 40 percent of the vote.

So can one candidate run it up, where the more affluent college educated Republicans live? Can they run it up there? And in this part here, in the middle of the country, that's Trump country. Does Barnett get their vote, or does that endorsement for Dr. Oz do it?

And remember, this is the Senate race in the Republican side, the governor's race matters too because the governor appoints the secretary of state, could have 2024 ramifications, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, John King, thanks so much.