Trump’s support strength wanes in gubernatorial races

WASHINGTON – Former President Donald Trump’s status as a Republican kingmaker has plummeted in the past week, as some of the candidates he supported in major Republican primaries — particularly for governor — lost their bids.

Republican voters and strategists said mr. Trump’s participation in the races will be important going forward, but consultants say traditional principles of successful candidates such as attractiveness, perceived electoral potential, records and background have proven as important as ever.

This was especially true in governor races, where officials have a direct influence on things like budgets and law enforcement.

Georgia State Brian Kemp won his primary against former President Donald Trump’s candidate by more than 50 percentage points on Tuesday night.


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Eric s lo / shutterstock

In Georgia on Tuesday night, Gov. Brian Kemp decisively won the primaries against the former president’s candidate, the former senator. David Purdue. Last week in Idaho, mr. Trump’s nominee, first lieutenant. Government. Janice McGeichen, lost her challenge to Gov. Brad Little. A week earlier, Trump-backed businessman Charles Herbster, who ran for governor of Nebraska and faced allegations of groping women, lost to University of Nebraska official Jim Palin. Mr. Herbster denied the allegations. Mr. Trump told voters to look at them.

Georgia’s gubernatorial race may have been the standout primary test since it was the center of the president’s false allegations of election fraud in 2020 that he says will boost Republican turnout this fall. repeatedly attacked mr. Kemp, calling him weak for not trying to reverse President Biden’s victory there.

Georgia government supporters. Brian Kemp stood by to be heard speaking after winning the Republican primary in Atlanta on Tuesday.


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Dustin Chambers/Reuters

Most core voters felt differently, like Mr. Kemp beat mr. Perdue by more than 50 percentage points.

Kemp supporter Jeff Fan, the 63-year-old accountant, said he voted conservative in large part because of the way he has handled the economy during the pandemic.

Mr. Van was not eager to support Secretary of State Brad Ravensberger, another goal of the master. Trump’s 2020 election wrath – but he’s still voting for him instead of Rep. Judy Hayes (Republic, Georgia), Trump-backed nominee. Mr. Ravensberger won that race Tuesday night, according to the Associated Press, avoiding a run-off.

“I usually listen to who Trump supports, but I’m not obligated to do so,” Mr. Van said, standing outside the Oconee County Baptist Church where he voted. Okoni District is a rural area near Athens, Ga. , home of the University of Georgia.

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Mr. Trump has stayed out of disputed governor races this month in Ohio and Alabama, where incumbents Mike DeWine and Kai Ivey, respectively, have easily overcome challenges from pro-Trump candidates and criticism that they are ineffective fighters against Mr. Trump. Biden’s agenda. Ms. Ivey sent several of Alabama’s primary rivals including Linda Blanchard, the US ambassador to Slovenia during the Trump administration. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier, citing Mr. Trump advisers, who met Ms. Blanchard discussed possible endorsements if I challenged Ms. Ivy.

Alla, said Greg Heathcox, a Republican voter from Oxford, even if Mr. Trump has earned an endorsement, which would have been a directional cue at most – not a deciding factor.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Ravensberger declared victory on Tuesday after defeating a Trump-backed candidate in the primaries.


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Ben Gray/Associated Press

said mr. Heathcox, 72, is retired from the Human Resources department. In a pre-elementary interview, he said he was supporting construction tycoon Tim James because he wanted new blood in the governor’s mansion and loved Mr. James Campaign Discourses on Christian Values.

“I mean, I support Trump. I supported him 100%. I would support him if he runs tomorrow,” Mr. Heathcox said. “But this is, you know, a decision I have to make for myself.”

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Mr. On Wednesday, Trump posted on his social media platform, TruthSocial: “A big and very successful evening of political endorsement.” He noted the list of victories for his candidates in states such as Arkansas, where Sarah Huckabee Sanders won the Republican nomination for governor, and elsewhere in Georgia. Herschel Walker, a former soccer star, was hand-picked by Mr. Trump in the Georgia Republican Senate primary and easily captured it Tuesday night.

Mr. Trump did not mention Mr. Purdue lost, but wrote in a social media post that some of the races in which he had endorsements “couldn’t have been won”.

In an interview with the magazine in April, A. “It’s always hard to beat the incumbent,” Trump said.

Going forward, some Republicans are questioning how influential Mr. Trump could be in the governor’s races. Another test looms in August. Second is Michigan, where there is a competitive primary race for the Republican Party to face the Democratic governor. Gretchen Whitmer this fall. John Selleck, a longtime Republican aide in Lansing who is now a political advisor, said the nature of Trump’s endorsement could be a distraction from the race. “It was incredibly well noted that he was reluctant to endorse the Governor’s race,” said Sleck.

Democrats say mr. Trump’s primaries activity — and his focus on referring to the 2020 election — had a potentially beneficial effect on their party by keeping some candidates on the sidelines. Republican Governors Doug Ducey of Arizona and Chris Sununo of New Hampshire quarreled with Trump over allegations of election fraud and other issues and refused to bid in the Senate, which could hurt the GOP’s chances in those two seats. New Hampshire and Arizona, along with Georgia, are also home to some of the weakest Democrats in the Senate.

Alabama. Kai Ivey greeted her supporters in Montgomery after winning the Republican primary on Tuesday against a pro-Trump candidate.


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Julie Bennett / Press-Register / Associated Press

Another opponent of Trump, the governor of Maryland. Larry Hogan also resisted Republican Party leaders’ requests to run for the Senate.

“I think Trump’s involvement has undermined the Republicans’ ability to get strong, credible Senate candidates into this cycle,” said J.B. Burch, who directs the Senate Democratic Majority Committee that focuses on maintaining the House Democrats’ majority.

At the Senate and House races, Mr. Trump’s record is much better, but not perfect. The contested Pennsylvania primaries are still raging too close to call and are now heading for a recount. The main candidates are the famous doctor Mehmet Oz, who received clear support in opinion polls after receiving Mr. Trump approval, and hedge fund manager Dave McCormick.

“Trump has done most of his endorsement either for revenge or for fame and fame,” said Christopher Nicholas, a longtime Republican advisor in Pennsylvania.

El-Sayed said the primaries showed that these two factors are not certain winners. Nicholas, who surveyed the race but was not affiliated with any of the candidates. said that mr. McCormick has received a better rating from Mr. Oz, help him make belated decisions.

“I don’t think Republican primary voters are going around thinking about whether or not this race will help Trump,” he said. They proceed to decide on their usual issues: Do they like the candidate? Do they think they can win? Do they line up with their cases? “

Even when the endorsement appears to be having an effect, as in Ohio where author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance won a crowded — and competitive — race after endorsing Trump belatedly, they angered some local party activists.

JD Vance, a writer and venture capitalist, won the competitive Republican primary for the US Senate in Ohio on Tuesday after Trump’s belated approval.


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Jeff Swensen / Getty Images

Several Ohio Republican leaders wrote to Mr. Trump to offer no endorsement after NBC News reported that Mr. Trump was about to endorse Mr. Vance. Greg Simpson, Republican Party Chairman of Claremont County, Ohio, was one of those signatories.

“Let’s make our decision,” Mr. Simpson said in an interview. “How does Trump know what works for me in my area here?” He recalled that after the approval of Mr. Vance, the former president nicknamed him “J.D. Mandel,” and his name was mixed with Josh Mandel, a former state treasurer who also ran in the primaries. “This type told me he doesn’t even know who to support,” he said.

Mr. Simpson said he voted for Mr. Trump twice but likely won’t do it again if he runs in 2024, saying he wants mr. Trump is sticking to fundraising with only occasional endorsements.

Mr. Trump’s backed representative. Ted Budd in the competitive primary for the North Carolina Senate, in which Mr. Ted Budd won Budd by a large margin last week. Mr. It also boosted Trump’s support for Rep. Alex Mooney in West Virginia, where he challenged his fellow Republican congressman. David McKinley, after the state lost a seat in Congress, redistributes House districts once a decade.

Sarah Chamberlain, chair of the Main Street Republicans Partnership, a Washington, D.C.-based group, said internal polling showed Trump’s endorsement revitalized Mr. Trump’s most loyal supporter of Mr. Trump. Money.

her advice to candidates after seeing mr. Trump’s mixed endorsement record? Sorry about that less.

If Trump supports you, he does; “If he didn’t, he didn’t,” she said. “Just run on who you are and hope it’s all right.”

write to Joshua Jamerson at joshua.jamerson+1@wsj.com

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