Coming into May, we knew that several crucial GOP primaries would test just how strong Donald Trump’s grip on the Republican Party remains.
After success with J.D. Vance in Ohio, the next few weeks were a mixed bag for Trump. On the one hand, Mehmet Oz holds a slim lead in Pennsylvania, and Ted Budd won in North Carolina. Nevertheless, several other Trump-endorsed candidates like Charles Herbster, Madison Cawthorn and Janice McGeachin suffered defeat.
The results in Georgia, however, were an absolute disaster for the former President. Trump targeted several Republicans from the Peach State for not supporting his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, including Governor Brian Kemp, Attorney General Chris Carr and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Yet all three won renomination last night.
Trump convinced former Senator David Perdue to run against Gov. Kemp, only for the latter to handily beat the former by over 52 points (73.7% to 21.8%). AG Carr actually equaled Kemp’s 73.7% in his own contest, while Secretary Raffensperger pulled off the biggest surprise by avoiding a runoff and winning his nomination by a 52.3% to 33.3% margin.
Meanwhile, down in Alabama, Congressman Mo Brooks was in the unique position of having been endorsed and unendorsed by Trump. Despite that, Brooks was able to qualify for the June 21st run-off in Alabama’s Senate race. Whereas Brooks came in second with 29.1%, front-runner Katie Britt led the field with 44.7%.
One unqualified victory for Trump occurred in Arkansas, where his former Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders ran away with the gubernatorial primary by winning 83.2%. Although Sanders, of course, also likely benefited from being the daughter of former Governor Mike Huckabee.
During his Administration, there was much digital ink spilled on Donald Trump’s vice-like grip on the Republican Party. The results from the past month suggest that while the former President’s influence is still quite significant, it is not as strong as it once was. Those GOP hopefuls weighing a 2024 presidential run will undoubtedly take this development into account.
Progressive Rage and the End of the Bush Dynasty in Texas
On Tuesday, run-offs were also held in Texas for contests where no candidate received 50% of the vote back in March. The most high-profile of these races was the Democratic primary for the 28th Congressional District between incumbent Henry Cuellar and challenger Jessica Cisneros.
At the time of this writing, Cuellar has a 177 vote lead over Cisneros. While the race hasn’t been called and a recount possibly looms, the possibility of defeat infuriated progressive leaders like Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. AOC pointed to the support Cuellar received from party leaders like Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Whip James Clyburn as making the difference in the close race.
The left wing of the Democratic Party will have to find solace in the primary for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District. Republican mapmakers in Georgia pitted Democratic incumbent Reps. Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux against each other in the Atlanta suburbs, only for the progressive choice McBath to win handily 63% to 30.6%.
At the same time, the results in Texas’ GOP primary for Attorney General may well signal an end to the Bush dynasty. Jeb Bush’s son, George P. Bush lost his challenge to embattled incumbent Ken Paxton, with Paxton easily dispatching Bush 68% to 32%. Despite preparing most of his life for elective office, Bush’s political career may now be over.
The primary calendar will be taking a rest for the long Memorial Day weekend, but it will be back with a vengeance on June 7th when California, Iowa, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota hold their respective primaries.