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Trump gets a mixed bag after endorsing GOP candidates in Nebraska and West Virginia

By Eric Garcia
Getty Images

Former president Donald Trump got a mixed bag on Tuesday night when one candidate he endorsed triumphed in West Virginia, but another fell short in Nebraska, showing the former president’s endorsement is powerful but not a rubber stamp for Republican voters.

In West Virginia, Rep Alex Mooney beat Rep David McKinley in a member-on-member Republican primary. Mr Trump had turned his anger on Mr McKinley after he joined 12 other Republicans who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill last year that President Joe Biden signed.

Mr McKinley was also one of 35 Republicans to vote to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the 6 January Capitol insurrection. Mr Mooney cut ads criticising Mr McKinley, including an ad featuring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and progressive Representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

In response, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia endorsed Mr McKinley, pushing back on allegations that Mr McKinley supported Build Back Better, Democrats’ proposed social spending bill that passed the House but Mr Manchin opposed.

“Alex Mooney has proven he’s all about Alex Mooney,” Mr Manchin said in the ad. “But West Virginians know David McKinley is all about us.”

But Mr Mooney trounced Mr McKinley. As of Wednesday morning with 95 per cent of precincts reporting, Mr Mooney beat Mr McKinley in West Virginia’s 2nd District by almost 19 points. Mr Trump won every county in West Virginia in both of his elections and remains extraordinarily popular in the state.

Mr McKinley’s loss is a warning to Mr Manchin should he run for another Senate term in West Virginia in 2024, if Mr Trump is at the top of the ticket.

Conversely, Mr Trump’s preferred candidate, businessman Charles Herbster lost in the GOP gubernatorial primary Nebraska. The businessman lost after he faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct from women, which he vociferously denied.

Conversely, Nebraska’s outgoing Republican Governor Pete Ricketts endorsed University of Nebraska regent Jim Pillen. Mr Pillen won by roughly 4 per cent.

The wins and losses show Mr Trump’s endorsement is powerful but not an absolute guarantee that his preferred candidate will win. Last week, JD Vance won the Republican primary for Ohio’s Senate race after he had lagged behind other Republican candidates, thanks in part to Mr Trump’s endorsement.

But Mr Trump faces another crucial test in Pennsylvania next week. A new InsiderAdvantage/FOX 29 Philadelphia poll found that the former television host Dr Mehmet Oz, whom Mr Trump endorsed, is narrowly leading the polls with 22.5 per cent of Republicans compared with Kathy Barnette, who has 20.9 per cent.

On 24 May, Mr Trump will hope to have his power known among Republicans but also faces another mixed result. He aggressively encouraged former University of Georgia running Back Herschel Walker to enter the GOP primary to challenge Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock. Mr Walker looks likely to win but his endorsement of former Senator David Perdue to challenge incumbent Republican Governor Brian Kemp has yet to pay dividends.

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Dive Deeper:
W. Virginia, Nebraska primaries offer mixed bag for ex-president Trump
Washington (AFP) - West Virginia voters picked a Donald Trump acolyte Tuesday to represent them in November's midterm US elections,…
Here are the Trump-backed candidates who won the Nebraska and West Virginia primaries
Donald Trump played it pretty safe with his May 3 endorsements in Ohio and Indiana and won big. Last night,…
Nebraska GOP strains to unite after Trump's candidate loses
Nebraska Republicans are struggling to put the bruising campaign for governor behind them
3 primary contests to watch Tuesday in West Virginia and Nebraska
Former President Donald Trump has endorsed candidates in competitive primaries in both states, making Tuesday another evaluation of his influence…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Mooney beats McKinley, Trump's pick falls in Nebraska as GOP battles in primaries
Former President Donald Trump's pick won a big House primary in West Virginia, but Trump suffered his first endorsement loss…
Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 22 (May 12, 2022)
Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Republican Edition
Get all your news in one place