Trump takes center stage in heated GOP primaries in Nebraska and West Virginia on Tuesday


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He’s not on the ballot, but former President Donald Trump is at the center of two high-profile Republican primaries on Tuesday as voters in Nebraska and West Virginia head to the polls.

A week after Trump-backed Ohio GOP Senate candidate JD Vance emerged victorious in a crowded and contentious primary, thanks in large part to the former president’s recent endorsement, the influence continues of Trump on the Republican Party faces two tougher tests in primary matchups that have captured national attention.

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In Nebraska’s three-way fight for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, Trump is backing Charles Herbster, a multi-millionaire farm executive, in the race to succeed Republican term-limited Governor Pete Ricketts. The controversial race also includes multi-millionaire pig farmer and University of Nebraska regent Jim Pillen, who is backed by Ricketts, and State Sen. Brett Lindstrom, who has backing from moderate Republicans and crossover Democrats.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster speaks as former President Donald Trump stands by during a rally in Greenwood, Nebraska on May 1, 2022.
(Save America PAC)

Herbster, who in recent weeks has been accused of sexually assaulting eight women — including a state senator — is a longtime Trump donor and ally. The former president endorsed Herbster last fall and held a rally with the candidate in Nebraska nine days ago.

And Trump’s prestige is also at stake in an intra-party battle between GOP Representatives David McKinley and Alex Mooney in West Virginia. The state lost a congressional seat in the once-a-decade congressional redistribution, and the two Republican incumbents were drawn into the same district. Trump is backing Mooney in a race that has partly turned into a test of the former president’s status as the Republican Party’s most popular and influential politician, nearly 16 months away from the White House.

A HUGE $74.5 MILLION WAS SPENT ON RUNNING ADS IN THIS STATE’S SENATE PRIMARY

Trump described Herbster as “a good man” at his May Day rally in Nebraska. And pointing to allegations of sexual misconduct which the candidate has denied, the former president argued that Herbster had been “libeled”.

Trump called Herbster a “stalwart MAGA champion” during a tele-rally last Thursday, and the former president accused Pillen and Lindstrom of being “Republicans in name only.”

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Pillen speaks at the State Capitol on January 18, 2022 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Pillen speaks at the State Capitol on January 18, 2022 in Lincoln, Nebraska.
(AP Photo/Grant Schulte, File)

“Without Trump’s endorsement, I don’t think Charles Herbster would be in the running,” Nebraska-based Republican strategist and communications consultant Ryan Horn told Fox News. “Even with Trump’s endorsement, he was unable to close the deal with voters.”

Ricketts, the co-chairman of the Republican Governors Association, tried last year to dissuade Trump from supporting Herbster and in the months that followed criticized Herbster as unfit for office. And Ricketts, whose wealthy family owns Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs, and his father – billionaire TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts – contributed big money to an outside group that targeted Herbster in TV ads. .

The group, called Conservative Nebraska, has focused its firepower on Lindstrom for the past two weeks.

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The winner of the GOP primary will be seen as the overwhelming frontrunner for Nebraska Red in November’s general election against state Sen. Carol Blood, who is almost certain to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination against a candidate not very well-known.

State Senator Brett Lindstrom of Omaha speaks in Lincoln, Nebraska on February 27, 2019.

State Senator Brett Lindstrom of Omaha speaks in Lincoln, Nebraska on February 27, 2019.
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

Similar to the Nebraska GOP governor’s primary, the Republican congressional primary in West Virginia’s 2nd District, where McKinley and Mooney face off, saw numerous attack ads on television.

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A new Mooney ad spot touts, in what he calls “a breaking MAGA alert”, that he is the “only candidate Trump trusts to stand up for our values” and criticizes McKinley as a “RINO” and a ” sellout”.

In the ad and on the campaign trail, Mooney attacks McKinley for voting in favor of the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill — one of President Biden’s national achievements that will bring plenty of federal dollars to the West Virginia, a state in dire need of infrastructure improvements. And Mooney targets McKinley for supporting the Democratic-controlled House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by right-wing extremists aimed at disrupting Congress’ certification of the Electoral College’s victory. Biden on Trump.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST FOX NEWS PRIMARY ELECTION RESULTS

McKinley, in its latest ad, accuses Mooney, who is currently the subject of an ethics investigation, of being “desperate” and of “fraud”.

“Mooney opposed Trump’s wall four times; opposed Trump’s plan to ban fentanyl from China; opposed Trump’s plan for veterans,” the spot’s moderator claims.

Although the former president did not host a rally for Mooney in West Virginia, he did invite the congressman to speak last Friday at a rally in neighboring Pennsylvania.

McKinley has the backing of GOP Governor Jim Justice and former governor.

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And in an interesting twist, longtime moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, a former two-term governor with universal ID in West Virginia, has crossed party lines to star in a new ad on behalf of McKinley. .


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