Trump’s politics remain firmly rooted – and deeply influential – in almost every GOP race around the country, but the measure of his personal influence has taken a hit so far this primary season.
Alabamians picked the Republican he endorsed just 10 days ago in a high-stakes Senate primary runoff decided on Tuesday, but the limits of Trump’s power were clear in Georgia, a state he lost in 2020, where GOP voters have dealt him a string of embarrassing rebukes in primaries for this year’s midterms.
Earlier this spring, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who rebuked Trump’s entreaties to help him overturn the 2020 presidential election, defeated Trump-backed primary picks. CNN projected Tuesday that state Rep. Bee Nguyen will take on Raffensperger in the fall.
The latest blows to Trump’s endorsees came Tuesday in a pair of US House primary runoffs.
In the 10th Congressional District, CNN projects that Kemp-backed businessman Mike Collins, son of the late US Rep. Mac Collins, will defeat former Democratic state Rep. Vernon Jones, who was endorsed by Trump. The race provided the closest thing to a clear proxy battle between Trump and Kemp – and Collins, though an archconservative aligned with the former President, is on track for a comfortable victory.
Trump pick Jake Evans, the former chairman of the State Ethics Commission, will also fall to emergency room physician Rich McCormick in the 6th Congressional District runoff, CNN projects.
Trump sat out the race in southwest Georgia’s 2nd District – for three decades the unquestioned province of Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop, a centrist “Blue Dog” caucus member. Some national Republicans, however, did not. West Point graduate and frequent Fox guest Jeremy Hunt had the support of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, while the National Republican Congressional Committee highlighted him as a rising star, regarding the Black candidate as a potential gamechanger in the mostly rural, plurality Black district.
But CNN projects attorney Chris West, a former Georgia Air National Guard officer, will win the GOP nomination to take on Sanford. West and his allies portrayed Hunt as an out-of-towner who parachuted into the district after leaving Yale Law School in Connecticut to run.
Alabama Republicans go with establishment in Senate runoff
Trump did get a win of sorts in Alabama on Tuesday, where CNN projects Katie Britt, the former chief of staff to retiring Republican GOP Sen. Richard Shelby, will win the GOP Senate primary runoff.
She’ll defeat Rep. Mo Brooks – or “MAGA Mo,” as he’s called himself – after Britt fell narrowly short of clinching the nomination outright on May 24. Trump initially endorsed Brooks in the primary, then dropped him in March, citing Brooks’ comments about moving past the 2020 election.
But Brooks’ struggles in the polls were also believed to have influenced Trump, who keeps close tabs on his primary endorsement win column. So it came as little surprise that the former President jumped back into the race 10 days ago, this time to endorse Britt, a GOP establishment favorite who finished the first primary round with more than 44% of the vote.
Republicans pick nominees for key Virginia US House races
The battle lines are clearer in Virginia as Republicans in two key swing US House districts chose the candidates they hope will unseat a pair of endangered Democratic congresswomen this fall.
In the coastal 2nd Congressional District, CNN projects that state Sen. Jen Kiggans has secured a matchup with incumbent Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria. Kiggans, who fits a more traditional Republican profile and had the backing of GOP congressional leaders in her primary, will defeat three others, including Jarome Bell, who was more closely aligned with right-wing allies of Trump, including former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar. In a tweet last year, Bell called for the execution of “all involved” in Trump’s imagined 2020 election fraud. There’s no evidence of widespread election fraud.
Virginia’s 7th District became more Democratic-friendly after redistricting. Whether that will be enough to save Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who isn’t facing a primary challenge, in November is less clear – especially in the state where the backlash to Democratic rule in Washington won its first headlines last year with Republican Glenn Youngkin’s victory in the governor’s race.
CNN projects Yesli Vega, a Prince William County supervisor, will win the GOP nomination in the 7th District. She had the endorsement of Ginni Thomas, a conservative activist who’s the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Vega emerged from the six-candidate field, defeating state Sen. Bryce Reeves, who was supported by Utah Sen. Mike Lee, FreedomWorks’ political arm and the campaign arm of the National Rifle Association; Derrick Anderson, a retired Green Beret backed by Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton; and Stafford County Board Chair Crystal Vanuch.
Abrams’ influence shows in Georgia Democratic runoffs
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams’ influence with Georgia Democrats was further solidified on Tuesday, as at least two of her endorsed statewide candidates won their primary runoffs.
Nguyen, the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants who had Abrams’ backing, broke through despite comments from her rival, former state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler, that the Democratic Party has “a race problem” and that institutional support for Nguyen was part of a bid to diversify their ticket and appeal to White voters. Dawkins-Haigler, like Abrams, is Black.
CNN is also projecting that in the primary runoff for lieutenant governor, another Abrams endorsee, Charlie Bailey, will defeat Kwanza Hall, a better-known candidate who briefly served as a member of Congress in the late Rep. John Lewis’ district. Abrams also endorsed state Rep. William Boddie in his race against businesswoman Nicole Horn in the labor commissioner primary runoff.
Washington, DC, was also a political battleground in the Democratic mayoral primary. Two-term Mayor Muriel Bowser will win the nomination again, CNN projects, defeating three challengers: DC Council members Robert White and Trayon White, along with James Butler, who finished second in the 2018 primary – about 70 percentage points behind Bowser.
This story has been updated with additional developments.