WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, primary voters will decide the fate of two South Carolina Republicans who are holding their seats in the US House of Representatives after challenging Donald Trump, while in Nevada the establishment’s favorite with the support of the former president faces tougher than expected , a challenge for the U.S. Senate.
In Maine, meanwhile, a militant former governor who once said he was “Trump before Trump” has retired in Florida to challenge a nemesis at his old job.
The first competitions in South Carolina, Nevada and Maine on Tuesday offer the latest test of Trump’s political brand. North Dakota is also holding elections, but US Republican Senator John Howen has no serious contender.
What to watch:
Trump has backed former Attorney General Adam Laxalt in the U.S. Senate and Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombard as governor. How well they will work on Tuesday will be judged by how strong Trump’s support has been, which has yielded mixed results this mid-season campaign.
Laxalt’s political pedigree helped him become a leader. His grandfather Paul Laxalt was the governor and senator of Nevada. And Laxalt’s father is the late US Senator Pete Domenichi of New Mexico, who first publicly acknowledged his paternity in 2013. In addition to Trump, Laxalt also has the approval of most of Washington’s regional party, as he seeks to run in November against the first – Democratic Senator Catherine Cortes Masta, who is considered one of the most vulnerable senators.
But Laxalt, who mostly grew up near Washington, D.C., and served as an attorney general in the Navy, faced a more difficult problem than expected.
Retired Army Captain Sam Brown, a West Point graduate and Purple Heart recipient who has been badly burned in Afghanistan, is running as a conservative outsider. He attracted crowds and won the support of those who find Laxalt too comfortable with the establishment. He also has the approval of the Nevada Republican Party.
In the Lombard presidential race, the Las Vegas Police Department chief hopes to meet with Democrat Gov. Steve Sisolak in November. But first he must overcome the primary challenge from Republicans from former U.S. Senators Dean Heller and Joey Gilbert, a lawyer and former boxer who were outside the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
In addition to tent races, the Republican primaries for secretary of state also offer a measure of Trump’s lasting power over the Republican Party.
Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Tsegawske, a Republican, is stepping down due to time limit laws. In 2020, she refused to succumb to Trump’s pressure campaign to undo her defeat in the state’s presidential election, vowing not to “put my thumb on the democracy scale”.
Six Republicans are vying for the seat, including Jim Marchant, a former state lawmaker who has accepted Trump’s lies about widespread voter fraud in the state. His website clearly states his position: my “number one priority will be to overhaul the fake electoral system in Nevada.”
Democrats banded together for Secretary of State candidate Cisco Aguilar, a lawyer who previously worked for Harry Reed, a former Democratic Senate leader who died last year.
Loyalty can be a changeable thing for Trump. And its alleged shortcoming is a driving force facing acute primary challenges for two South Carolina Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives.
MP Nancy Mace worked for Trump in 2016 and earned his approval when she expelled incumbent Democrat Joe Cunningham from the coastal area four years later.
But shortly after her swearing-in, a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, and Mace appeared on national television to declare that the attack “destroyed all of Trump’s legacy.” Trump was furious and recruited the contender, former MP from Katie Arrington, who helped oust Mark Sanford from the House of Representatives in 2018.
In Congress, Mace was trying to fix the fence – sort of. She voted against Trump’s second impeachment and opposed the creation of a Sept. 11-style commission to investigate the origins of the Jan. 6 attack, which was inspired by Trump’s lies about stolen elections.
But she also voted to accuse former Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon of contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the Jan. 6 investigation. And she publicly quarreled with Republican MP Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia, a far-right flamethrower and ally of Trump.
Mace is not the only candidate in South Carolina to have angered him.
Trump also questioned candidates for U.S. Primary Representative Tom Rice after he voted to impeach the president over the January 6 uprising. Rice now faces six other Republicans, all of whom cite an impeachment vote as the main motivator of his campaign.
In the end, Trump settled on supporting Russell Fry’s state representative, who ran a TV commercial in which Rice was likened to villains, including Satan. Fry told voters during a recent debate that “we are going to vote for the impeachment of Tom Rice in the ballot box.”
Rice, on the other hand, focused on important but much more mundane matters, such as his success in securing flood relief funding and helping farmers in the region for five terms.
The Maine gubernatorial primaries are a mere formality, with one Democrat and one Republican running for office. But they will block what promises to be a nap of the general election, pitting two longtime enemies against each other.
Incumbent Democrat President Janet Mills is running for a second term. She is a former district attorney, state attorney and attorney general of Maine, who often clashed with Republican Paul LePage when he was governor. Now he challenges her.
The fact that the two are even competing with each other is a kind of surprise.
LePage, who once called himself “Trump before Trump was,” moved to Florida after leaving office in 2019 after two tumultuous deadlines that often caught the country’s attention with their obscene remarks.
But the draw for elected office was apparently too large. By 2020, he has returned to Maine, promising to challenge his old nemesis, whom he accuses of “reckless spending” and “heavy” pandemic directives.
So far LePage is lagging behind in fundraising from Mills, but the race is expected to be one of the most competitive gubernatorial races in the country this year.
Associated Press authors Meg Kinard of Columbia, Carlamina, David Sharpe of Portland, Maine, and Scott Soner of Reno, Nevada, contributed to this report.
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