Nebraska governor’s primary offers Trump chance for more approval wins

WASHINGTON- ​​Polls are off in West Virginia, where former President Donald Trump hopes to further demonstrate his power in Tuesday’s GOP primaries, the third round of nominating contests this year ahead of the midterm elections in November.

Polls end at 9 p.m. ET in Nebraska, where Republican voters are selecting a candidate in a gubernatorial primary in which Trump also waded.

Tuesday’s two contests, unlike last week’s showpiece Ohio Senate battle, have flown under the radar nationally but come after vicious campaigns that saw Trump-backed candidates use endorsement of the former president as a shield against accusations of mating and sexual impropriety.

According to Trump’s political advisers, he has so far backed 168 Republicans across the country in local, state and federal races; 55 won and none lost, although many were met with token opposition at best. Trump’s advisers openly acknowledge that at least one of his candidates will likely lose a contest in the coming weeks as the races become more competitive.

In West Virginia, two Republican members of Congress face off after the state lost one of its congressional seats in the redistricting process due to population decline.

Trump backed Rep. Alex Mooney while Rep. David McKinley had the backing of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice — a former Democrat who switched parties under Trump — and Sen. Joe Manchin, the moderate Democrat who made the decision unusual to cross party lines to endorse.

McKinley’s campaign called Mooney a mocker (he served in the Maryland State Senate and served as Maryland GOP chairman before moving to West Virginia to run for Congress in 2014) and called him a “political prostitute” (he has been the subject of several ethical investigations).

Mooney in advertisements accused McKinley of being a “liberal”, a “sellout”, and a “known loser”. Trump attacked McKinley for backing the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the creation of a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill, saying during a tele-rally last week that the member of Congress “had betrayed the Republican voters of West Virginia and the great people of West Virginia”. ”

McKinley’s campaign noted that, according to vote tracking analysis by data website FiveThirtyEight, McKinley voted with Trump 92% of the time while Mooney voted with him 86.7% of the time.

Public polls have been limited, but a recent MetroNews poll showed Mooney in the lead. Mooney also has more money, spending $5.1 million of McKinley’s $1.9 million, according to Open Secrets, while outside groups spent $1.3 million on Mooney’s behalf and $950,000. dollars for McKinley.

In Nebraska’s primary for governor, Trump backed wealthy businessman Charles Herbster, who has been accused of sexual harassment, in a GOP primary against University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen and U.S. Senator State Brett Lindstrom.

Limited-time Republican Governor Pete Ricketts backs Pillen and funds an outside group to support him. Lindstrom has the support of some Omaha officials, including its mayor and police chief.

The Nebraska Examiner reported that eight women – including a Republican senator – accused Herbster of groping, accusing him of, for example, reaching up their skirts, grabbing their behinds or forcibly kissing them against their will. – everything Herbster denied.

A Pillen ad attacked Herbster as a liar who “dodges taxes”. An outside group backed by Ricketts attempted to capitalize on the allegations against Herbster in a recent article, claiming he had been a judge at numerous beauty pageants “so he could judge countless young women and teenage girls.”

Herbster posted an ad comparing himself to Supreme Court justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh, who were accused of sexual impropriety which they also denied.

And in another TV spot, Herbster linked Pillen to “critical race theory,” a legal construct that has become shorthand for Republican criticism of the discussion of race and racism in schools, saying that by as a college administrator, he had authorized “millions of your tax dollars to teach students racist and hateful views about our nation.”

A limited public poll in the race showed a draw, with an April survey showing the top three candidates within each other’s margin of error and 1 in 6 likely voters still undecided.

Trump drew thousands to a racetrack outside Lincoln, Nebraska, last week for a rally to promote Herbster, known for his cowboy hat and three-piece suit.

“Charles is a good man and he is innocent of these despicable charges,” Trump said. “I have to defend my friends, I have to defend people who are good. These are malicious accusations to derail him long enough for the election to go ahead before the proper defense can be presented.

Jessica Flanagain, Pillen’s campaign manager, said Trump’s campaign for Herbster – as well as efforts to secure votes for the former president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz – have tightened the race.

“It’s a barn burner,” she said.

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