The nation has been voting in party primaries for this year’s midterm elections, and most post-presidents have remained silent.
For example, President Joe Biden withheld any endorsements in the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania’s closely watched Senate race. Meanwhile, former President Barack Obama has also been stingy with his endorsements. In the 2020 presidential primaries, Obama endorsed Biden only after the primary.
But not Trump.
By contrast, former President Donald Trump has endorsed more than 50 candidates in this year’s primary elections, according to Ballotpedia.
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However, Trump ended Tuesday night’s elections with a mixed record. The former president’s tally included wins, losses and a marquee race too early to call.
Trump had shocked party faithful in North Carolina when he endorsed U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, a little-known congressman, last June for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Richard Burr. But after a rocky start, Budd easily captured his party’s nomination, passing a crowded field of GOP rivals that included the state’s former governor, Pat McCrory.
In North Carolina, Trump replicated his role in Florida’s 2018 primary, an electoral success from his presidency. In that race, Trump endorsed the obscure Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis over state executive Adam Putnam, and DeSantis won despite his initially lackluster polling. Now, Trump has left office, but he’s still backing little-known candidates who proceed to longshot victories.
However, Trump ran into some bumps in Pennsylvania’s Tuesday primary for Senate, where he had endorsed the celebrity heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Oz is virtually tied with former hedge fund CEO David McCormick early Wednesday, with more votes left to be counted.
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Meanwhile, some of Trump’s endorsements failed to overcome hurdles, like scandal.
In North Carolina, the scandal-plagued Rep. Madison Cawthorn lost his reelection bid Tuesday even after Trump urged voters to “give Madison a second chance!”
Cawthorn, the youngest member of Congress, was ousted from office on Tuesday by state Sen. Chuck Edwards after a rocky first term filled with salacious headlines and scandals. The young congressman, who uses a wheelchair after a car accident, became a media sensation when he first won a House seat at age 25, but he may have gotten singed under the spotlight.
Cawthorn last month was cited for carrying a handgun through an airport security checkpoint — his second such citation. In March, he was cited for driving with a revoked license after being stopped for speeding twice. He angered local Republicans by choosing to run in a different district after new congressional maps were drawn this year, then coming back to his original district when litigation shifted the lines again. And, most notoriously, Cawthorn insinuated that Washington Republicans had invited him to at least one cocaine-fueled orgy.
Trump sought to give Cawthorn a boost on Monday, urging voters to keep him in office.
But voters decided not to. Edwards, who was endorsed by Republican Sen. Thom Tillis, inched past Cawthorn in the primary. Still, the big picture wasn’t that close — with eight candidates in the contest, Cawthorn won just 3 in 10 voters in the district. That’s a warning for other Republicans who may feel that Trump’s ability to hold his base’s loyalty through repeated scandals makes them bulletproof, too.
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For the rest of the midterm cycle, Trump is set to keep testing his clout during a dynamic post-presidency.
The former president is facing down another possible defeat in next week’s high-stakes governor’s primary in Georgia, where his candidate is trailing in both polls and fundraising.
The Horn editorial team and The Associated Press contributed to this article.