Donald Trump’s image as a GOP kingmaker was tarnished by several high-profile election defeats earlier this year, but Tuesday primaries in states like Arizona have restored the Republican luster to the former president.
In what is shaping up to be a clean sweep in Arizona, 11 of the 12 candidates endorsed by Trump have won the US Senate, Secretary of State, Congressional, State House and State Senate primaries. (Trump’s choice for governor leads in a race that remains too close to call in the state of the battlefield.)
All of these candidates embraced Trump’s false claims of a stolen 2020 election.
Arizona’s victories stood in stark contrast to Georgia’s primaries in May, when most of Trump’s main candidates lost in the swing state as they tried to unseat a governor and secretary of state who refused to help Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election results.
While Arizona exemplified the strength of Trump’s influence in the GOP, it wasn’t the only state primary to show its power on Tuesday. His favorite candidates dominated Missouri and Kansas, as well as Michigan, where one of 10 congressmen who voted for his second impeachment was beaten by a Trump-backed challenger.
“Trump is still the 800-pound gorilla,” said Saul Anuzis, former Michigan Republican Party chairman and GOP consultant. “He has a significant influence.”
With only a handful of state primaries remaining, 188 Trump-endorsed candidates have won primaries during his presidency, 14 lost, two dropped out or were disqualified before their races, 26 are awaiting their primaries and two are in contests. races that have yet to be called, according to his staff and statistics compiled by Ballotpedia.
Trump has supplemented his approval stats by backing many incumbents with minimal opposition, but his obsessive involvement in every race and the extent to which candidates have bowed to his support — and the difference that has made in some shopping like OhioArizona and Michigan – makes him an outlier among past presidents.
Trump’s record also shows that, while he may be damaged by the multiple investigations focused on him, the former president looks very likely right now to get the GOP presidential nominee should he run again. 2024.
But Trump’s endorsement isn’t so magical that it can elevate an unelected candidate, nor are Republicans clamoring for Trump to run again; polls show him getting about half of the hypothetical votes in a crowded Republican presidential primary, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis coming in a distant second with about half Trump’s support.
Arizona Republican consultant Sean Noble said it’s undeniable that “we’re in uncharted territory with a former president having this level of control over the party. It’s more his party than anyone else. His approval obviously matters more than anyone else’s.
But, he said, Republicans are concerned that Trump may decide to make his re-election announcement before the midterms, making himself more of a campaign problem that could discourage independent and swing voters who are essential to winning the election. in swing states.
Democrats agree that Trump’s influence is unique, but they say he and his endorsed candidates are outside the mainstream for states like Arizona and Michigan.
“The Trump-endorsed slate in Arizona is by far the most extreme we’ve seen, and that word is far too tame,” said DJ Quinlan, one of Arizona’s top Democratic consultants, referring to the candidate. for governor Kari Lake, Senate candidate Blake Masters and Secretary of State candidate Mark Finchem, an avid Holocaust denier like Lake.
Quinlan, however, said Democrats “face headwinds” and shouldn’t underestimate the energy Republicans, especially Lake and Trump, can muster.
In another swing swing state the former president lost in 2020, Michigan, Trump-endorsed gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon won his primary on Tuesday but began to back down on his claims that the election has been stolen. (Trump’s choice for Michigan Secretary of State and Attorney General is also negationistsbut they secured their party’s nominations at a GOP convention instead of Tuesday’s primary.)
Still, Trump’s record on Tuesday was not without flaws. In Washington, GOP Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse, who both voted to impeach Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 riot, lead their respective Trump-backed challengers.
Of the 10 Republicans favoring impeachment, six have decided not to run again, and only one has so far managed to pass a primary, California Rep. David Valadao. As with the Newhouse and Beutler races, the Valadao race was a so-called “jungle primary” where every candidate from every party runs, as opposed to a partisan primary.
In Michigan, Rep. Peter Meijer paid for his impeachment vote by losing his primary on Tuesday to Trump-endorsed John Gibbs.
“That tells you there’s not a big appetite among Republican voters to support Republicans who are siding against Trump,” said Andy Surabian, a 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 that the media narrative out of Georgia that Trump was losing influence was completely false,” he said. “There were local factors at play in Georgia – the quality of the candidate more than anything. Early results since then have all clearly shown Trump’s unique power and endorsement.
Democrats, however, see no lasting power with those endorsements.
Pamela Pugh, a Democrat who sits on the Michigan State Board of Education, echoed the views of other Democrats in swing states in predicting that Trump’s involvement and the extremist nature of some of his picks will hurt Republicans in November.
“Democrats are ready for a fight,” Pugh said.