Trump’s endorsement influence being tested in primary elections


(NewsNation) — Republican primary voters are set to deliver a strong signal of just how much the orbit of former President Donald Trump still influences the party.

In states such as Wyoming and Pennsylvania, Trump-backed candidates are locked in tight races with Republicans who have either been critical of the controversial former president or have not received his blessing as a candidate.

Those races will go a long way in shedding light on the direction of the Republican Party. Trump already had one major endorsement loss when Sen. David Perdue lost to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in the Republican primary for governor.

Trump and Kemp had butted heads over Trump’s unfounded claim there was election-changing fraud in Georgia in the 2020 presidential election.

But other Trump-endorsed candidates such as Ohio’s J.D. Vance, who won a Republican Senate primary, have secured wins that have demonstrated Trump’s endorsement still carries significant weight for some voters.

Now all eyes will turn to Wyoming, where Trump critic Rep. Liz Cheney faces a stiff challenge from attorney Harriet Hageman, who received a strong endorsement from Trump at a recent rally.

“We’ve seen that actually a lot of the Republican establishment and Republican leadership in the House, including the woman who replaced Cheney in her role as GOP conference chairwoman, Elise Stefanik, as well as Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, are delivering video addresses at this rally,” said Julia Manchester, a political reporter with The Hill.

Cheney is still very popular in Wyoming and is a fundraising powerhouse, yet Manchester said this race will still say a lot about the Republican Party.

“Do they go in Liz Cheney’s direction and choose someone who has really been there in the state for quite some time representing them and someone who has really worked her way up through the ranks of Congress, or do they go in Trump’s direction given that President Trump and Harriet Hageman have repeatedly talked about these untruths about the presidential election in 2020, saying it was stolen from President Trump, something that Liz Cheney has hit back against,” Manchester said.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, Trump-backed candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz is locked in a tight recount battle against hedge fund CEO David McCormick. Fewer than 1,000 voted separated the two candidates.

“We knew this was absolutely going to be a close election given the polling we had seen, however, what we didn’t realize is that we wouldn’t know who the nominee is at this point in time,” Manchester said.

Republicans in the state are fighting about whether ballots not marked with a date should be counted. McCormick wants them to be counted but party officials in Pennsylvania have signaled that will not be the case.

“A bit of a brawl or disagreement between some of the Republican establishment, but we’ll have to see how this plays out,” Manchester said. “We are headed towards November, we know that the Democratic base has already rallied (behind) Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who is very popular, so Republicans really don’t have too much time at this point to really get their message ready and rally behind a candidate,” Manchester said.

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