early and often

Trump Scores More Primary Wins While Basking in GOP Support

Trump with his Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

During the day on Tuesday, August 9, Donald Trump was basking in the warm embrace of much of the Republican Party, where the FBI raid of his Mar-a-Lago property was being treated as one of the great crimes of history. Some observers think the incident all but locked up the 2024 presidential nomination for the ex-president, assuming he goes forward with his stated desire to pursue a vengeful comeback.

On the evening of August 9, it soon became clear Trump’s primary candidates were going to have a good night.

In the Wisconsin GOP gubernatorial primary, Trump’s endorsement was clearly the key factor in sealing a close win for self-funding construction executive Tim Michels, who played up the Trumpy outsider-businessman angle and managed to win the former president’s endorsement while avoiding Trump’s own demands that Wisconsin Republicans “decertify” Biden’s 2020 win (though he did blow the “election integrity” dog whistle). Michels defeated longtime front-runner and former state lieutenant governor Rebecca Kleefisch, former governor Scott Walker’s sidekick for the eight long years of his remorselessly reactionary administration. She was also endorsed by those other symbols of pre-Trump right-wing politics, Mike Pence and Ted Cruz. Michels won with outsize margins in rural and small-town Wisconsin. Trump’s night in the Badger State wasn’t perfect, though; longtime assembly speaker Robin Vos narrowly survived a primary challenge from Adam Steen that Trump heavily promoted. Vos had enraged the ex-president by rejecting the decertification idea as unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, in Connecticut, Trump risked his perfect record in 2022 U.S. Senate primaries with a late endorsement of conservative fundraiser Leora Levy, who upset state-party endorsee and former legislative leader Themis Klarides by a healthy margin. Klarides (like Colorado senate nominee Joe O’Dea) was the rare pro-choice Republicans running for a major office this year. Levy won’t have much of a chance against incumbent Democratic senator Richard Blumenthal in November, but her win solidifies Trump’s — and the anti-abortion movement’s — grip on the GOP in yet another state.

The MAGA cause got a bonus win on Tuesday in a contest left over from August 2. Washington congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler finally conceded that Trump endorsee Joe Kent would knock her out of a spot in the November election under that state’s top-two primary system. Beutler was one of ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump after the January 6 insurrection. Of those ten, only California’s David Valadao and Washington’s Dan Newhouse have advanced to the general election so far. On August 16, in Wyoming, Trump is expecting to finally get his revenge on Liz Cheney, who faces primary voters in a race she is very likely to lose.

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Trump Scores More Primary Wins While Basking in GOP Support