The political sway of former U.S. President Donald Trump over Republican Party politics 16 months after he left office was tested again Tuesday and he ended up with mixed results, with his endorsed candidates winning some party primaries while losing others.
One key race in the eastern state of Pennsylvania – for the Senate Republican nomination – remained too close to call early Wednesday. Trump-endorsed celebrity television doctor Mehmet Oz was clinging to a 2,500-vote lead over former hedge fund chief executive Dave McCormick, but about 5% of the vote remained uncounted.
The eventual winner will face the state’s Democratic lieutenant governor, John Fetterman, in the November general election. Fetterman, who says he can unite Pennsylvania’s progressive urban voters with the state’s more moderate rural voters, easily won his party primary.
Fetterman, however, spent election night in a hospital bed recovering from implantation of a pacemaker earlier Tuesday after he suffered a stroke several days ago.
In the race for Pennsylvania governor, Trump endorsed Republican state Senator Doug Mastriano, who easily defeated a crowded field of Republican candidates in Tuesday’s primary. Mastriano, who has staunchly embraced Trump’s false claims that vote fraud cost him another four-year term in the White House, was already leading in polling for the gubernatorial contest when Trump endorsed him.
Some Republican analysts have voiced fears that Mastriano’s views on the 2020 Trump defeat might prove to be too extreme in the November campaign against the Democratic nominee, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
Mastriano led an effort to overturn Trump’s key loss in Pennsylvania in the presidential election and attended Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally near the White House on Jan. 6, 2021, the day a pro-Trump mob attacked the U.S. Capitol to try to stop lawmakers from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory.
A Trump-endorsed Republican Senate candidate, Congressman Ted Budd, won his party’s nomination in the mid-Atlantic state of North Carolina and now will face Democrat Cheri Beasley, a former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, in November. She is the first Black woman nominated for the Senate in the state.
Trump-endorsed Congressman Madison Cawthorn, a single-term lawmaker from a western North Carolina district, lost his bid for nomination to a second two-year term to state Senator Chuck Edwards. Cawthorn has been embroiled in numerous controversies in Washington.
Numerous Republican figures aside from Trump actively worked to defeat Cawthorn after he had been stopped twice with trying to carry a loaded gun through airport security checkpoints, was twice charged with driving with an expired license and alleged without evidence that he had been invited to drug-infused sex orgies in Washington.
Trump said Cawthorn should be given a second chance to redeem himself, but Cawthorn narrowly lost to Edwards in a crowded field of Republican candidates seeking to oust him.
Elsewhere, in sparsely populated Idaho in the western part of the country, Trump-endorsed Republican Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin decisively lost a gubernatorial primary to incumbent Republican Governor Brad Little. Little will face Democrat Stephen Heidt in the general election.
McGeachin was perhaps best known for seizing on Little’s absences from the state to enact her own policy agenda — such as banning mask mandates in schools and public buildings during the height of the coronavirus pandemic — only to have her orders reversed by Little upon his return. She also supported Trump’s claim of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
The record for Trump’s candidates in Tuesday’s party primaries mirrored earlier outcomes in elections this month. One of his preferred candidates, author J.D. Vance, won the Republican Senate nomination in the midwestern state of Ohio, but in Nebraska, gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster lost.