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Monday, December 09, 2019

Scoring Trump's Endorsements In 12 GOP Midterm Primaries


(Reuters) -Former President Donald Trump's influence over the Republican Party was tested in two more midterm primaries on Tuesday, the last of a dozen high-profile races where the former president weighed in.

Here is a list of 12 prominent Trump endorsements, among the more the more than 200 picks he has made ahead of the November 8 elections that will determine control of Congress for 2023 and 2024.

Still To Be Called

Kelly Tshibaka

* Seeks to defeat incumbent U.S. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska

* August 16 open primary contest

Trump is backing Tshibaka, a former Alaska state administration commissioner, to unseat Murkowski, one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump in 2021 on impeachment charges. Both Murkowski and Tshibaka will advance from Tuesday's primary contest, which under new state election rules will send four candidates to the November contest regardless of their political parties.

The state's new rules, however, could give Murkowski a boost in the general election. Voters will be asked to rank their candidates by preference, and Murkowski - a moderate who won re-election in 2010 as a write-in candidate after losing the Republican primary - could win if she garners more second-choice votes than Tshibaka.

Winners In Primaries

Harriet Hageman

* Defeated incumbent Rep. Liz Cheney, Hageman is favored to win Wyoming's at-large congressional district in November

Trump threw his backing behind Hageman, a lawyer, in September 2021, looking to punish Cheney, who was stripped of her role as the No. 3 House Republican for voting to impeach the former president on a charge of inciting the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot. Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, also serves as the vice chair of the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol attack.

Joe Kent

* Seeks to win Washington state's Third Congressional District, which leans Republican, on November 8.

Kent, a former special forces officer endorsed by Trump, narrowly won the August 2 Republican primary over incumbent Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who voted to impeach Trump last year. Kent could be the frontrunner in November for the newly-drawn district, which Trump would have won by four percentage points in 2020.

But he faces the risk his hard-right views could galvanize Democrats. Kent has campaigned with far-right Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida and told Oregon Public Broadcasting that he held a social media strategy call with white nationalist and Hitler fan Nicholas Fuentes, though he said he disagrees with Fuentes' "ethno-nationalism."

John Gibbs

* Seeks to win Michigan's Third Congressional District on November 8.

Gibbs is a former housing official under Trump with a history of inflammatory tweets, including references to baseless conspiracy theories about Democrats and Satanism. He beat Rep. Peter Meijer in the August 2 Republican primary after a Democratic Party group spent heavily on television ads touting the former president's endorsement of Gibbs. Meijer slammed the ads as a ploy to help his "far-right opponent" get on the ballot and make it easier for Democrats to win the moderate district in November. Meijer was one of the few Republicans who voted to impeach Trump last year.

Mehmet Oz

* Seeks U.S. Senate seat for Pennsylvania vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey

Oz, a celebrity doctor whose endorsement by Trump divided Republican leaders in Pennsylvania, beat former hedge fund executive David McCormick in a primary by a margin of 951 votes.

Oz will face Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who leads in current polls by double digits. Fetterman took a break from the campaign trail after suffering a stroke in the days before the May 17 primary, and on August 12 held his first rally since the life-threatening health event.

Herschel Walker

* Will face incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen.Raphael Warnock of Georgia

A retired football star, Walker easily won the May 24 Republican nomination contest and opinion polls point to a close race in November against Warnock, a pastor. But Trump-endorsed Walker, who has never held elected office, has vulnerabilities including past allegations of domestic abuse.

Ted Budd

* Seeks U.S. Senate seat for North Carolina vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Richard Burr

A rank-and-file member of the House of Representatives, Budd had little statewide name recognition before he sought the Republican nomination for what is expected to be a tight race in November. Following Trump's endorsement, he surged in opinion polls and easily defeated former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory in the May 17 primary.

In November, Budd will face Democrat Cheri Beasley, a Black woman who formerly served as the state's chief justice.

J.D. Vance

* Seeks U.S. Senate seat for Ohio vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman

The Trump-backed Vance triumphed in a crowded May 3 Republican primary and is favored to win in November against Democrat Rep. Tim Ryan, although polls currently show Ryan with a small lead.

Vance is best known as the author of best-seller Hillbilly Elegy, which documented the descent of factory towns in states like Ohio into poverty and drug abuse. He has styled himself as an angry populist in the Trump mold, shedding his prior reputation as a critic who once called Trump "reprehensible."

Russell Fry

* Expected to win South Carolina's Seventh Congressional District, which is strongly Republican, on November 8.

Fry, a state representative, won Trump's endorsement after Rep. Tom Rice joined Democrats and a handful of Republicans in voting to impeach the former president for inciting a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Fry easily defeated Rice in the June 14 Republican primary, telling supporters afterward he would work hard to make Trump proud.

Losers In Primaries

Loren Culp

* Lost to incumbent Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse in Washington's Fourth Congressional District.

Former small-town police chief Loren Culp won Trump's endorsement to take on Newhouse, who had stoked Trump's ire by voting to impeach him last year. But it was Newhouse who advanced in the August 2 Republican primary, with Culp blaming his loss on a crowded field of Republican candidates who were similarly pro-Trump.

David Perdue

* Went up against Georgia's incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp

Former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, despite getting Trump's endorsement, did not come close to upsetting Georgia's incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. Perdue, who repeated Trump's falsehoods about losing Georgia in the 2020 presidential election due to widespread voter fraud, conceded to Kemp shortly after polls closed in the May 24 Republican primary. Kemp had angered Trump by dismissing the former president's false statements about election fraud.

Katie Arrington

* Challenged Republican U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace

Arrington, a former South Carolina state lawmaker, won Trump's endorsement after incumbent Mace publicly criticized Trump for his role in his supporters' assault on the U.S. Capitol. Mace, who voted against Trump's impeachment, defeated Arrington in the June 14 Republican nomination contest. Newly drawn district boundaries have made her seat safely Republican in November.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; additional reporting by Joseph Ax; editing by Scott Malone and Alistair Bell)


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