Donald Trump’s image as a GOP kingmaker marred by several high-profile election losses earlier this year, but Tuesday’s primary in states like Arizona restored the Republican shine to the former president.
In what looks set to be a clean victory in Arizona, 11 of Trump’s 12-backed candidates have won in the US Senate, Secretary of State, Congress, House of Representatives and State Senate primaries. (Trump’s pick for governor is leading in a race that remains too close to call the battleground state.)
All of these candidates have embraced Trump’s false claims of a stolen 2020 election.
The victories in Arizona contrasted sharply with the Georgia primary in May, when most of Trump’s main candidates in the swing state lost trying to unseat a governor and secretary of state who had refused to support Trump’s efforts to reverse the 2020 election results.
While Arizona exemplified the strength of Trump’s influence in the GOP, it wasn’t the only state primary to demonstrate his power on Tuesday. His preferred candidates dominated in Missouri and Kansas, as well as Michigan, where one of the 10 congressmen who voted for his second impeachment was defeated by a Trump-backed challenger.
“Trump is still the 800-pound gorilla,” said Saul Anuzis, former Michigan Republican Party leader and GOP adviser. “He has significant influence.”
With just a handful of state primaries left, 188 Trump-backed candidates have won primaries during his tenure, lost 14, two retired or were disqualified before their races, 26 are awaiting their primaries, and two are in races pending called, according to its employees and statistics compiled by Ballotpedia.
Trump bolstered his endorsement stats by backing many incumbents with minimal opposition, but his obsessive involvement in all races and the extent to which candidates have prostrated themselves before his endorsement — as well as the difference it makes in some races like Ohio, Arizona , and Michigan — making him an outlier among past presidents.
Trump’s record also shows that while the former president could be damaged by the numerous investigations aimed at him, he is currently most likely to secure the GOP nominee for president should he run again in 2024.
But Trump’s endorsement isn’t magical enough to elevate an unelected candidate, nor are Republicans clamoring for Trump to run again; Polls show he’ll receive about half of the hypothetical votes in a crowded Republican presidential primary, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis coming second by a wide margin and receiving about half the support of Trump.
Arizona Republican adviser Sean Noble said it was undeniable that “we are in unfamiliar territory with a former president who has this level of control over the party. It’s more from his party than anyone else. His endorsement is obviously more important than anyone else’s.”
But, he said, Republicans worry that Trump could decide to make his re-election announcement before the midterms, making himself more of a campaign issue that could scare off independent and shifting voters campaigning for winning elections in swing states are crucial.
Democrats agree that Trump’s influence is unique, but they say he and his backed candidates for states like Arizona and Michigan are outside the mainstream.
“The Trump-backed list in Arizona is by far the most extreme we’ve seen, and that word is way too tame,” said DJ Quinlan, a top Arizona Democrat adviser, referring to gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, Senate candidate Blake Masters and Secretary of State candidate Mark Finchem, an ardent election denier like Lake.
However, Quinlan said Democrats “have headwinds” and they shouldn’t underestimate the energy Republicans, particularly Lake and Trump, can muster.
In another swing-swing state the former president lost in 2020, Michigan, Trump-backed gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon won her primary Tuesday, but began to retract their claims that the election was stolen. (Trump’s elections as Secretary of State and Attorney General in Michigan are also refusersbut they secured their party nominations at a GOP convention rather than Tuesday’s primary.)
Still, Trump’s record on Tuesday was not without flaws. In Washington, GOP Reps Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse, who both voted to impeach Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 riots, are leading their respective Trump-backed challengers.
Of the 10 Republicans who support impeachment, six chose not to run for office and only one has made it through a primary so far, California Rep. David Valadao. As with the Newhouse and Beutler races, the Valadao race was what is known as a “jungle primary” in which every candidate from each party competes, as opposed to a party primary.
In Michigan, Rep. Peter Meijer paid for his impeachment vote by losing his primary to Trump-backed John Gibbs on Tuesday.
“It tells you that there isn’t much of an appetite among Republican voters to support Republicans who oppose Trump,” said Andy Surabian, Republican strategist who is a former Trump White House official.
“I would describe what happened in Arizona and Michigan as anti-Georgia. Last night proves the media narrative from Georgia that Trump was losing his influence was dead wrong,” he said. “Local factors played a role in Georgia – above all the quality of the candidates. The initial results since then have all clearly demonstrated Trump’s unique power and support.”
However, Democrats do not see staying power in these notes.
Pamela Pugh, a Democrat who serves on the Michigan State Board of Education, echoed the views of other swing-state Democrats by predicting that Trump’s involvement and the extremist nature of some of his picks will hurt Republicans in November.
“Democrats are ready for the fight,” Pugh said.
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-boosts-endorsement-record-wins-arizona-michigan-rcna41386 Trump boosts confirmation record with victories in Arizona and Michigan