WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s pick in Nevada, Adam Laxault, won his U.S. Senate primary, defeating a populist candidate who is arguably more representative of the Trump base.
Trump also scored a significant victory in South Carolina, where his favorite candidate easily ousted five-term Representative Tom Rice, who was to be removed from office last year after voting to impeach the former president. The first were Republicans. But another high-profile GOP target of Trump in the state, Rep. Nancy Mays, a challenger, managed to hold back.
Highlights of the latest round of primary elections:
Nevada Senate Race
Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell don’t agree much. A rare exception is Laxalt, who won Nevada’s Republican Senate primary.
The two Republican leaders have not been on speaking terms since December 2020, when McConnell acknowledged that Biden had defeated Trump. But they both backed Laxalt, who defeated retired Army Captain Sam Browne, a West Point graduate and Purple Heart recipient, who, as a conservative outsider, led an unexpectedly strong campaign.
The mutual support shows that Republicans have for the first time focused intensely on flipping the seat held by Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, considered one of the weakest senators.
Laxalt, 43, served one term as Nevada’s attorney general, and lost a gubernatorial bid to Steve Sisolak in 2018. He is the grandson of former Nevada Gov. and US Senator Paul Laxalt, and his mother raised him as a single parent. In 2013, former New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenicali admitted that he was Adam Laxalt’s father.
South Carolina Congressional Race
Tom Rice and Nancy Mays have been the objects of Trump’s anger ever since a crowd of their supporters stormed the US Capitol to block authentication of Joe Biden’s presidential election victory.
their crimes? Mace said on national TV that the attack “wiped out” Trump’s “entire legacy,” while Rice became an apostate to join a small group of Republicans who voted with Democrats in favor of Trump’s second impeachment.
“He threw a raging rage, ending with the dismissal of the United States Capitol,” Rice told NBC News on Monday. “This is a direct attack on the Constitution, and he must be held accountable.”
Voters ultimately gave differing decisions on the two, reflecting a division within the GOP about how to move on from the Trump era.
Rice’s predominantly rural district is representative of Trump’s America, where the former president costs enormously to surpass. Mace’s district, which is centered on Charleston, is filled with the types of liberal suburban voters who fled the GOP under Trump. It is one of the few districts in the overall red state where Democrats have been moderately competitive even in the race for Congress.
The results demonstrate that the Trump factor may not be strongly underestimated in the Republican field, a potential warning sign for other Republicans, including Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who voted to impeach Trump. and helped lead the House panel investigating Jan. 6 attack. She faces a competitive primary from a Trump-backed challenger in August.
Another notable factor in the mess contest: It amounted to a proxy fight between Trump, who is considering a 2024 White House campaign, and former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, who is also considering a run.
Trump endorsed former state Representative Katie Arrington in the race, while former South Carolina governor Haley campaigned alongside Mace.
Also in South Carolina, Republican Tim Scott won an easy and uncontested primary on Tuesday in what he said would be his last term in the Senate. But he also has another state on his mind – Iowa’s presidential proving ground.
It has become an article of faith that there are no “accidental” visits to Iowa by ambitious politicians. And Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, has made several visits, including last week.
He certainly has money to contend with. As he campaigned for Senate re-election, Scott made a jaw-dropping $42 million. That’s more than double the average cost of the $15.7 million Senate campaign won in the 2018 midterm. That’s more than enough to launch a Republican presidential campaign in 2024.
Even before his recent appearance at an Iowa Republican Party event, Scott has been raising his profile. He spoke at the 2020 Republican National Convention and gave a Republican response to President Joe Biden’s first joint congressional address. He also visited New Hampshire, another early-voting presidential state, and gave a speech at the Reagan Presidential Library, a frequent stop for Republicans watching over the White House.
Texas Congressional Race
The once solidly Democratic district in South Texas would now be represented by a Republican, when Myra Flores defeated former Democratic Rep. Won a special primary election to end the term of Philemon Vela, who resigned this year to become a lobbyist.
Flores, a GOP organizer who is the daughter of migrant workers, will only be in the seat for several months before the district is redrawn to be more friendly to Democrats. But his victory in the heavily Hispanic Rio Grande Valley is an ominous sign for Democrats.
Not only are they losing their ground in the region they long dominated, but Flores’ success as a candidate also shows that Republicans are infiltrating Hispanic voters.
His victory also weighs on the ambitions of Democrats in Congress, giving House Speaker Nancy Pelosi an opportunity to add to her slim two-vote margin for passing the law.
Main Governor Race
The general election contest in Maine, along with Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona, is one of a handful of gubernatorial races that are likely to be competitive this year.
Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary was a mere formality, as the races were uncontested. But he closed in on the promise of a general election between the two long-standing opponents.
Democratic incumbent Janet Mills is seeking a second term. She is a former district attorney, state lawmaker, and Maine Attorney General who frequently clashed with Republican Paul Lepage while he was governor. Now LePage, who describes himself as “Trump before Trump,” is challenging him.
The contest will test the appeal of Trumpian candidates in New England. The Democratic Governors Association has already booked $5 million in TV ad time.
It’s somewhat of a surprise that Mills and Lepage are also competing against each other. LePage moved to Florida and shied away from politics when he stepped down in 2019 after two tumultuous terms, often drawing national attention for his hate comments. But the draw for elected office was clearly too great. By 2020, he was back in Maine to challenge his old nemesis.