An army of more than 200 MAGA candidates ready to fight for Donald Trump‘s agenda is marching into November’s midterm races, after a heated primary season that proved the ex-president remains, for the most part, the de facto leader of the Republican Party.
Trump has played a heavy hand in the 2022 election cycle thus far, endorsing candidates both for Congress and state executive roles in races that normally do not get the national attention he’s brought to them.
He’s also jetted around the country to campaign with their voters in his signature ‘Make America Great Again’ rallies, including a forthcoming appearance in Ohio on Saturday for Senate candidate JD Vance.
It’s appeared to have worked for him – with a success rate of more than 90 percent.
Overall in the Senate races, Trump’s favored candidates won 100 percent of the time out of primaries that have already occurred. He’s helped 18 candidates advance to November, with two races that are still pending.
But some of the candidates he’s backed – like Herschel Walker in Georgia and Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania – appear to have establishment Republicans worried about their electability in a general race where independent voters play a key role.
Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell expressed reservations about how certain candidates would fare in the upcoming state-wide races during an event at the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce last month.
‘I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate,’ McConnell said. ‘Senate races are just different, they’re statewide. Candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.’
On the House side, Trump has faced far less opposition to his candidate choices.
The former president’s candidates have won all but five of their races in regular primaries, out of 158 total endorsements. That includes three races that are still pending.
Trump-endorsed candidates have won more than 90 percent of their races across the country in state and federal matches
Trump faced a recent high-profile loss when former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, a vocal ally of his, lost her special election to finish late Rep. Don Young’s term. However, with Alaska’s ranked-choice voting system, Palin gained enough votes for another shot at a full term in the seat in November.
Just one out of 131 Trump-backed House incumbents lost their race – Rep. Madison Cawthorn was narrowly beaten after a string of embarrassing public incidents and millions of dollars spent by fellow Republicans to unseat him.
His success rate could partially be attributed to – for the most part – supporting incumbents in their re-election bids.
Trump also fared well in open races – not counting Alaska’s special primary or Louisiana’s forthcoming elections, his House candidates won 16 of 18 open Republican primaries.
The ex-president’s influence faltered slightly when it came to electoral hopefuls hoping to unseat current GOP officials.
He lost two out of six House races where he’d hoped to unseat the current representatives.
Katie Arrington lost to South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace despite Trump’s appearance for her in Florence earlier this year.
And Rep. Dan Newhouse also managed to eke out a victory against Trump-backed Loren Culp despite voting to impeach the ex-president after the US Capitol riot.
Two Trump-backed candidates for governor similarly failed to clinch victory over their incumbent challengers. Former Senator David Perdue, who was recruited by Trump to take down Georgia Governor Brian Kemp for Kemp’s refusal to overturn his state’s 2020 election results, was soundly beaten.
In Idaho, Janice McGeachin also failed to unseat GOP Governor Brad Little.
Herschel Walker in Georgia is a longtime friend of Donald Trump’s, back from when Walker played on Trump’s now-defunct professional football team. But his alleged history of domestic violence and self-confessed Borderline Personality Disorder have called his fitness for office into question.
Walker is running for Senate against Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock.
Trump raised eyebrows even among his hardcore supporters when he endorsed Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, who is now running for Senate against the state’s progressive populist Lt. Governor John Fetterman.
Oz, a TV celebrity doctor, has muddled his own race with a series of gaffes that his opponent has seized on to paint him as out-of-touch with regular Pennsylvanians. His primary residence is also in New Jersey.
Trump’s pick for governor in Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano, is also in a tight race against his Democratic opponent. Mastriano’s fringe-right beliefs include support for conversion therapy and theories that the 2020 election was stolen.
Mastriano caught heat recently for a past photograph of himself in a Confederate uniform. He was also protesting the 2020 results in DC on January 6 last year, though he was not among those who broke into the Capitol.
In Arizona, former Obama donor and ex-TV news anchor Kari Lake cliched Trump’s endorsement with fervent promotion of his election fraud lies.
Establishment Republicans including Mike Pence initially backed Lake’s more moderate rival but fell in line behind Trump after Lake eked out a narrow victory.
Trump’s endorsements of Kari Lake (left) for governor in Arizona and Herschel Walker (right) for Senate in Georgia reflect the ex-president’s penchant for camera-ready candidates. Lake is a former local TV news anchor while Walker played professional football
Maryland gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox sailed to a primary victory with Trump’s endorsement – though he’s now widely seen as long shot candidate in the moderate state’s November race.
Term-limited GOP Governor Larry Hogan called Cox ‘a nut’ during a radio interview. Cox previously admitted to organizing busloads of Trump supporters for his ‘Stop The Steal’ rally that preceded the Capitol riot.
Ex-Trump administration official John Gibbs got the ex-president’s support to beat pro-impeachment GOP Rep. Peter Meijer in Michigan.
But Gibbs, who once said Hillary Clinton’s old campaign manager participates in satanic rituals, was also aided by House Democrats who funneled money into his race in hopes he will push more moderate voters to the left in November.
Florida House candidate Anna Paulina Luna won her primary with Trump’s backing, after previously losing to Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist.
She’s running in a newly-redrawn Florida Congressional map that is projected to give Republicans an edge in much of the state.
Trump’s heavy hand in this year’s midterm elections will prove to be a bellwether for his lingering influence on Republican voters
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The Peach State’s gubernatorial primary had been widely seen as a proxy war between more traditional Republicans, like Trump’s ex running mate Mike Pence, and the former president. Pence had thrown his weight behind Kemp well after Trump latched onto Perdue.
But Trump saw the opposite effect in Arizona, where ex-TV anchor Kari Lake earned his endorsement for fervently promoting his 2020 election fraud claims.
She defeated businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robson despite Robson’s history in the Reagan administration and support from key establishment Republicans on the state and federal levels.
Trump-backed Charles Herbster’s race for the Nebraska governorship was derailed amid groping allegations from multiple women, all of which he has denied.
The former president has been defensive about his midterm choices, celebrating on his Truth Social app when they’ve won while hesitating to comment on the losers.
But despite their hesitance to embrace all of Trump’s candidates, mainstream Republicans like McConnell have reluctantly gotten behind them in key races such as Georgia’s Senate election between Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican ex-NFL star Herschel Walker.
In response to McConnell’s jab about candidate ‘quality’ late last month, Trump lashed out by calling him a ‘broken down hack’ and accused him of not doing enough to help Republicans in the midterms.
‘Why do Republicans(sic) Senators allow a broken down hack politician, Mitch McConnell, to openly disparage hard working Republican candidates for the United States Senate,’ Trump wrote on his Truth Social app.
‘This is such an affront of honor and to leadership.’
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group