Donald Trump prizes the power of his endorsement over just about anything, but the former president’s preferred candidates didn’t fare so well on Tuesday night.
Mehmet Oz is leading David McCormick in the Senate primary in Pennsylvania, but not by enough to avoid a recount. Madison Cawthorn, meanwhile, failed to defend his seat in North Carolina despite Trump asking voters to give him a “second chance.” But the biggest blow, at least in terms of margin of victory, came in Idaho, where far-right Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin failed to come within 20 points of unseating incumbent Governor Brad Little.
“I felt the honor of serving the great state of Idaho in good times and in tough times,” Little said Tuesday night in Boise. “Once again I’m humbled by the awesome opportunity to serve and work for the great people of Idaho.”
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Trump’s decision to back McGeachin was curious, as Little has long praised Trump himself and was the clear frontrunner to retain his seat. McGeachin is a hardcore 2020 election conspiracy theorist, though, which is almost certainly what attracted the former president’s attention. She recently released an ad in which she fired an assault rifle and ominously argued that the Second Amendment “wasn’t ratified … so we could bird hunt,” and earlier this week she attacked Little for calling the riot at the Capitol last Jan. 6 “inexcusable.”
Trump has repeatedly criticized Little, as well, but make no mistake: Little, who earlier this year signed a restrictive abortion ban, is extremely conservative. “The leftist states are dysfunctional places with broken policies that limit opportunity,” he said on Tuesday. “We would like to build a wall around Idaho and make California pay for it.”
Trump’s endorsements have yielded mixed results so far this primary season. McGeachin and Cawthorn fell on Tuesday. His pick for governor in Nebraska, alleged sexual abuser Charles Herbster, failed to make it through the primary last week. He has scored some big wins, however, most notably in J.D. Vance, the author and venture capitalist who emerged from a crowded field to win Ohio’s primary for Senate earlier this month. He also scored a win last night when Doug Mastriano won Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial primary, although Trump only decided to back the frontrunner days ago. Mastriano, who has ties to QAnon, was in Washington, D.C., for the rally that preceded the riot at the Capitol last Jan. 6.
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