Last night offered the latest evidence of Donald Trump’s continued influence over the Republican Party. In today’s newsletter, we’ll give you the results and also offer some larger perspective on the overall success rate of Trump’s endorsements this year.
First, here are the main results:
Liz Cheney — Trump’s highest-profile critic within the party — resoundingly lost her primary race for Wyoming’s lone House seat. Cheney received 29 percent of the vote, compared with 66 percent for Harriet Hageman, the Trump-endorsed candidate who has not held elected office before. (Here’s a Times profile of Hageman, and an analysis about what Cheney’s loss means for the G.O.P.)
In Wyoming’s Republican primary for secretary of state, the office that oversees elections, the winner was Chuck Gray, a state legislator whom Trump endorsed. Gray, like Trump, has falsely claimed that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent.
In Alaska, Sarah Palin, the state’s former governor whom Trump endorsed, and two rivals — Mary Peltola, a Democrat, and Nick Begich, a Republican — advanced to the November election for Alaska’s open House seat to replace Don Young, who died in March.
Alaska also held a Senate primary, but its results are unlikely to matter much. The state uses open primaries in which the top four vote getters advance to the general election. Both the incumbent — Lisa Murkowski, who voted to convict Trump in his impeachment trial for the Capitol attack — and Trump’s preferred candidate, Kelly Tshibaka, advanced. Alaska uses ranked-choice voting, which may favor a moderate like Murkowski.
Here are the latest vote counts from Alaska and Wyoming.
Trump’s 2022 record
The 2022 primary schedule is winding down, with only six states yet to hold elections, including Florida next week. The full picture of Trump’s influence is becoming clear.
He has become the rare defeated president to wield enormous sway over his party, with the ability to end careers (like Cheney’s, perhaps) and to turn once-obscure candidates into winners. Trump even persuaded other top Republicans, like Representative Kevin McCarthy and Senator Ted Cruz, to endorse Cheney’s opponent.
But Trump’s influence is not complete. The success rate of his endorsements in competitive elections hovers around 80 percent, and some incumbents (like Murkowski, perhaps) have proven strong enough to overcome his criticism of them.
The Times’s Maggie Haberman notes that Trump sometimes makes endorsements without thinking them through, including in multicandidate races with more than one candidate who supports his agenda. “Trump tends to treat politics like a scoreboard, as opposed to a strategic effort,” Maggie said.
This chart, by our colleague Ashley Wu, summarizes Trump’s record in the 2022 primaries so far.
Trump’s biggest successes include races in which he has helped defeat incumbents who defied him, including four of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him over Jan. 6. Trump has also transformed some campaigns without an incumbent, allowing his endorsee to win a crowded field. Examples include J.D. Vance in the Ohio Senate primary; Mehmet Oz in the Pennsylvania Senate primary; and Kari Lake in the Arizona governor primary.
If anything, our chart above understates Trump’s influence, because it does not include officials who resigned partly out of a fear that a more Trump-friendly candidate might beat them. The Ohio and Pennsylvania Senate seats, as well as those in Missouri and North Carolina, seem to be examples. The senators who chose not to run for election in these states — like Rob Portman in Ohio — were not even regular Trump critics. They instead tended to be establishment Republicans who tried to avoid talking about him.
Of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, four also did not run for re-election. Overall, only two still have a chance to remain in Congress next year.
With all this said, Trump is not omnipotent. The races where his endorsed candidates have lost this year tend to fall into one of two categories: Either his chosen candidates were facing incumbents with a strong enough connection to voters to survive, or the Trump-backed candidates seemed too flawed to win.
Georgia falls into the first category. There, both Gov. Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state, survived primary challengers despite their refusal to help Trump’s attempt to reverse the 2020 election result.
The Alabama senate race falls into the second category. Mo Brooks, a House member involved in the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election, was struggling so much that Trump withdrew his endorsement late in the campaign and later switched to Katie Britt, who already seemed on course to win. Other Trump endorsees who lost their races include Representative Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, who has been accused of insider trading and sexual misconduct; and Charles Herbster, a candidate for Nebraska governor whom multiple women accused of groping.
The bottom line
Even if Trump does not become the Republican presidential nominee again, he continues to shape the Republican Party. He has helped push out of Congress some of the Republicans who have voted for bipartisan legislation this year. He has also pushed out some of those who have called out his lies about his election and criticized his encouragement of the Jan. 6 rioters.
In their place are candidates who have signaled they might be willing to commit election fraud to keep Democrats from taking office, regardless of the vote count.
“These primary fights aren’t between the ‘pro-Trump’ wing versus the ‘anti- or Never-Trump’ wing of the G.O.P.,” Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report has written, referring to most races. “In both style and substance, the current G.O.P. remains Trump’s party.”
Lives Lived: Wolfgang Petersen made big Hollywood hits, but he’s best remembered for the harrowing 1981 German war film “Das Boot.” He died at 81.
SPORTS NEWS FROM THE ATHLETIC
How long will Kevin Durant be in limbo? There’s little we can glean from recent N.B.A. trade request history. The ultimatum Durant presented to the Brooklyn Nets — and the fact that he’s owed $194 million — means the process could take a while.
Another LIV related lawsuit: Former PGA Tour golfer Patrick Reed is suing the Golf Channel and the commentator Brandel Chamblee for defamation. PGA Tour stars, including Tiger Woods, are meeting to discuss the rebel venture.
More Jets misery? Quarterback Zach Wilson underwent knee surgery and is expected to miss four to six weeks. New York’s Week 1 matchup is in three-and-a-half weeks. This probably means it’s Joe Flacco time for the Jets.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Willie Nelson is still standing
Willie Nelson has reached the age — 89 — when getting out of bed each morning can be considered a feat of survival, Jody Rosen writes in The Times Magazine. Musically, though, he’s going strong as ever.
Nelson is an exception in the youth-obsessed music industry. He didn’t reach superstardom until he was 45, and once he did, he never stopped working. Over the past two decades he has made 36 albums, including forays into reggae and gospel. “It’s a decent job,” he says. “Best one I’ve had, at least.”
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
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