High-profile primary races in all four corners of the United States were decided yesterday, Tuesday, June 14. With Democrat voters balking at the progressive contenders, all the serious action was on the Republican primaries that, once again, put the spotlight firmly on former President Donald Trump’s influence over American politics.
Batting 116 to 13 in endorsement wins, Trump’s record combined with President Joe Biden’s historic unpopularity suggests an epic battle is on the November horizon.
The Texas Flip
In a special election for Texas’ 34th congressional district to replace Democrat Filemon Vela who resigned earlier this year, Republican Mayra Flores successfully avoided a runoff against Dem contender Dan Sanchez. Pulling in 51% of the vote against her competitor’s 43.3%, this almost eight-point victory means that Flores will be the first Mexican-born woman in Congress. Although the term will only last until January 2023, the electoral damage for Democrats losing a formerly safe seat this close to the midterms cannot be understated.
The district will be redrawn before November and the new boundaries appear to heavily favor the Democrat candidate, current 15th congressional district Rep. Vicente Gonzalez. Conceding the race, Sanchez noted that his campaign had been outspent by Republicans but saved some ire for his own party. He wrote, “Too many factors were against us, including little to no support from the National Democratic Party and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.”
Elon Musk tweeted that he voted for Flores; his first-ever vote cast for a Republican candidate.
South Carolina Surprises
Incumbent Rep. Nancy Mace fended off a challenge from Trump-endorsed Katie Arrington, a former state lawmaker. The 53.1% against 45.3% victory for Mace is one of the biggest headlines of the day … but does it really signify a rejection of the America First movement?
Despite drawing the former president’s anger for voting to certify the 2020 election results, Mace did not vote to impeach him and has since backtracked on many of her scathing comments. In February, she posted a video of herself standing in front of Trump Tower, saying, “I’m Congresswoman Nancy Mace and I’m standing in front of Trump Tower this morning,” and then detailing her past support of 45.
Fry the Rice
Another South Carolina incumbent was not so lucky. Rep. Tom Rice took a huge loss against Trump-backed state Rep. Russell Fry. In a 51% versus 24% shellacking, Rice may be regretting his accusations that the former president was a “would-be tyrant” who is “consumed by spite.” Not only was he one of just ten GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach Trump in 2021, he was also one of 35 who voted to set up a commission to investigate January 6.
Nevada’s Red Potential
Nevada is a potentially pivotal state for GOP hopes. Voting for Biden in 2020 by a margin of just 2.4%, it is seen as one of the Republicans’ best chances at gaining power in the Senate.
Heading this charge is former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who is competing for a seat in the US Senate. Backed by both Trump and the national party, Laxalt won a convincing 56.1% against retired Capt. Sam Brown on 34.1%. Brown had been endorsed by the Nevada GOP. In November, Laxalt will face incumbent Senator Catherine Masto.
Another big winner was Sheriff Joe Lombardo in the gubernatorial primary, who has a reasonable chance of taking over the governor’s mansion from Democrat Steve Sisolak come election time. Most notable about this race was that Lombardo’s main GOP competitors were subtly backed by Democrat dollars in the hopes of giving Sisolak an easier shot at retaining his position.
Everything Comes Back to Trump
While individual candidates on both sides are concerned with winning their seats, for the wider world, it’s all about the big picture. Trump-backed candidates – or those who support the former president even without his endorsement – are in the ascendency, as the progressive wing of the Democratic Party fails to make significant gains.
In November, voters will be asked to choose between a party and a commander-in-chief that have overseen innumerable crises and a party that appears to be swinging back toward Trump. That 45 has thus far been proven right regarding his predictions of a Biden-led disaster could prove powerful ammunition.