Two Trump-backed candidates win primary in US election, but two fail

PHILADELPHIA, May 18 (Reuters) – Republican candidates backed by Donald Trump on Tuesday won their party’s nominations for governor in Pennsylvania and for the US Senate in North Carolina in the biggest test yet of the former president’s influence his party ahead of the midterm elections in November.

But Madison Cawthorn, a Trump-backed Republican congressman in North Carolina, lost his bid for a second term after a dizzying series of self-inflicted scandals Read more , while Trump’s bid for Idaho governor, Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin, failed the incumbent oust Republican Brad Little.

The biggest election night of the year so far has delivered mixed results for Trump and his far-right movement, although in the high-profile Pennsylvania Republican Senate primary in which Trump-backed television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz was included, votes still counted a close race with former hedge fund manager David McCormick.

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Although Trump lost the White House to President Joe Biden, a Democrat, in 2020, his enduring hold on his party was a key issue in this election as Republicans struggled to oust the Democrats from control of the US Congress.

Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano, who reinforced Trump’s false claims of 2020 voter fraud and marched on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, will be elected in a gubernatorial race that could have significant implications for abortion rights and elections. Meet Integrity with Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

Some Republican Party insiders feared that Mastriano’s first win would prove Pyrrhic if he scared off moderate voters in the Nov. 8 general election.

Trump has endorsed more than 150 candidates as he seeks to cement his status as his party’s kingmaker, though his election hasn’t always caught on.

In Pennsylvania’s US Senate marquee race, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman — a goateed, tattooed Liberal whose penchant for hoodies and shorts has made him attractive to everyone — won the Democratic nomination despite being hospitalized since Friday after suffering a stroke.

Fetterman, a progressive, defeated moderate US Rep. Conor Lamb just hours after he was implanted with a pacemaker to treat the irregular heart rhythms that caused the stroke. He said doctors expect a full recovery.

In a statement, Biden praised Fetterman while warning that whoever gets his way in the Republican contest will be “too dangerous, too cowardly and too extreme” for the state.

Fetterman’s Republican opponent has yet to be decided. With more than 90% of the expected votes, Oz ahead of McCormick by about 2,700 of nearly 1.3 million ballots counted, according to Edison Research. Conservative political commentator Kathy Barnette was far behind in third place.

Under Pennsylvania law, any margin of 0.5% or less will trigger an automatic recount.

Both Oz and McCormick told supporters late Tuesday that they expect a win but that a final result is not expected this evening given the number of mail-in ballots outstanding.

BUDD WINS, CAWTHORN LOSE

In North Carolina, a Trump-backed candidate, U.S. Representative Ted Budd, won the state’s Republican U.S. Senate nomination.

Budd, who defeated former Gov. Pat McCrory, meets Democratic former Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, who is trying to become the state’s first black senator.

The Pennsylvania and North Carolina Senate elections are two of the most important midterm contests as Democrats battle to retain narrow majorities in the House and Senate. Both seats are held by retiring Republicans: Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania and Richard Burr in North Carolina.

Republicans are well-positioned to regain control of the House of Representatives, which could allow them to block Biden’s legislative agenda. According to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll completed Tuesday, Biden’s public approval rating stands at 42%, with 50% of Americans disapproving of his performance.

Democrats stand a better chance of retaining control of the Senate, which is currently split 50-50 between parties, with Vice President Kamala Harris holding the crucial vote. Continue reading

Cawthorn, a staunch Trump ally who is the youngest member of the House of Representatives at 26, late Tuesday conceded his loss to Sen. Chuck Edwards, 61. Cawthorn faced criticism from fellow Republicans after a series of embarrassing episodes, including allegations that conservative leaders invited him to a cocaine orgy and had a video surface showing him naked and circling at someone.

In Pennsylvania, Trump confirmed Mastriano at the 11th hour, who was in front of the Capitol on January 6, 2021 when a mob of Trump supporters attacked the building. He played a significant role in the Trump campaign’s failed efforts to overturn Pennsylvania’s 2020 presidential results over false allegations of voter fraud.

If Mastriano wins in November, he could appoint his own secretary of state, the state’s top election official, before the 2024 presidential election, when Trump suggests he seeks a second term in the White House.

Mastriano has also said he will pursue a nationwide abortion ban after a leaked draft opinion showed the Supreme Court is poised to overturn its landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion nationwide.

Primary elections were also held in Kentucky and Oregon on Tuesday.

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reporting from Jarrett Renshaw in Philadelphia, Joseph Ax in New York and Andy Sullivan in Washington; Editing by Scott Malone, Ross Colvin, Will Dunham, Howard Goller

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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