Donald Trump’s image as GOP kingmaker was tarnished by several high-profile election losses earlier this year, but Tuesday’s primaries in states like Arizona brought Republican shine back to the former president.
In what appears to be a blank slate in Arizona, 11 of Trump’s 12 approved candidates won the primaries for the US Senate, Secretary of State, Congress, House of Representatives, and State Senate. (Trump’s choice for governor leads in a race that remains too close to mention in the battlefield state.)
All those candidates have embraced Trump’s false claims about a stolen 2020 election.
Arizona’s victories contrasted sharply with the Georgia primaries in May, when most of Trump’s top candidates lost in the swing state as they tried to oust a governor and secretary of state who had refused to assist in the attempt. Trump to undo the 2020 election results.
While Arizona illustrated the strength of Trump’s influence in the GOP, it was not the only state to show its power on Tuesday. His favorite candidates dominated in Missouri and Kansas, as well as Michigan, where one of the 10 members of Congress who voted for his second impeachment was defeated by a Trump-backed challenger.
“Trump is still the 800-pound gorilla,” said Saul Anuzis, former Michigan Republican Party chairman and GOP adviser. “He has great influence.”
With only a handful of state primaries left, 188 Trump-approved candidates have won primaries during his post-presidency, lost 14, two retired or were disqualified from their races, 26 are waiting for their primaries, and two are in races yet to be called. , according to his staff and statistics compiled by Ballotpedia.
Trump supplemented his approval stats by backing many incumbents with minimal opposition, but his obsessive involvement in all races and the extent to which candidates have pitched in for his support — as well as the difference it has made in some races like Ohio, Arizona and Michigan – makes him an outlier among former presidents.
Trump’s record also shows that while he may have been damaged by the multiple investigations targeting him, the former president currently appears most likely to secure the GOP nominee for president if he runs again in 2024. is becoming.
But Trump’s approval isn’t so magical that it can elevate an unelectable candidate, nor are Republicans calling for Trump to run again; polls show he gets about half the hypothetical vote in a crowded Republican presidential primary, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis a distant second with about half the amount of support as Trump.
Arizona Republican consultant Sean Noble said it is undeniable that “we are in uncharted territory with a former president who has this level of control over the party. It’s more of his party than anyone else. His approval is clearly more important than anyone else’s.”
But, he said, Republicans worry that Trump might decide to announce his re-election before the midterm elections, making him more of a campaign issue that could knock out independent and swing voters crucial to winning elections in swing states.
Democrats agree that Trump’s influence is unique, but they say he and his approved candidates are outside the mainstream for states like Arizona and Michigan.
“The Trump-approved Arizona slate is by far the most extreme we’ve seen, and that word is far too tame,” said DJ Quinlan, a senior Arizona Democratic adviser, referring to governor candidate Kari Lake, Senate candidate Blake Masters and Secretary of State Mark. Finchem, a staunch election denier like Lake.
Quinlan said, however, that Democrats “have headwinds” and should not underestimate the energy Republicans, especially Lake and Trump, can muster.
In another swing-swing state that lost the former president in 2020, Michigan, Trump-approved gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon won her primary on Tuesday but began to back down on her claims that the election was stolen. (Trump’s pick for Secretary of State and Attorney General in Michigan are also election deniers, but they secured their party nominations at a GOP convention rather than 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 riots, are leading their respective Trump-backed challengers.
Of the 10 pro-impeachment Republicans, six have decided not to run again, and only one has made it through to a primary so far, California Representative David Valadao. Similar to the Newhouse and Beutler races, Valadao’s race was a so-called “jungle primary” where every candidate from every party entered, as opposed to a partisan primary.
In Michigan, Rep. Peter Meijer won his impeachment vote by losing his primary on Tuesday to Trump-backed John Gibbs.
“It tells you that there is not a great need among Republican voters to support Republicans who are 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 the anti-Georgia. Last night proves that the media story from Georgia that Trump was losing his influence was all wrong,” he said. “There were local factors at play in Georgia — more than anything the quality of the candidate. The primary results since then have all clearly demonstrated Trump’s unique strength and endorsement.”
Democrats don’t see any lasting power with those approvals, though.
Pamela Pugh, a Democrat who is a member of the Michigan State Board of Education, echoed the views of other swingstate Democrats by predicting that Trump’s involvement and the extremist nature of some of his choices will hurt Republicans in November.
“Democrats are ready for battle,” Pugh said.