Republican voters in South Carolina split on Tuesday over two US House members who stood up to former President Donald Trump, renominating Rep. Nancy Mace but rejecting Rep. Tom Rice, the first of the ten House Republicans who voted for Trump’s impeachment to lose in a primary.
CNN predicts that State Rep. Russell Fry, who was endorsed by Trump, will upset Rice in the 7th District.
There are five things to keep an eye on in Tuesday’s primaries in South Carolina, Nevada, Maine, and elsewhere.
Rice did not back down from his criticism of Trump, even receiving death threats in the aftermath of his impeachment vote, or chose, as some of his impeachment-supporting GOP colleagues, to quit office after his term rather than face voters again. Before the uprising, the five-term congressman was an ardent conservative and Trump supporter who instead took his cause to the campaign route. Republicans in his 7th District rejected it, handing the nomination to Fry, who will get more than 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff.
Rice’s dismissal demonstrates Trump’s ongoing popularity among Republicans, particularly in conservative districts like Rice’s, which he has served since 2013. However, results in the 1st District showed that the former President’s grip on power isn’t fully secure.
Mace did not vote to impeach Trump, but she did reject to join congressional objectors to President Joe Biden’s victory, drawing the fury of the former President. Faced with allegations of insufficient allegiance to Trump, she was challenged by Katie Arrington, who defeated another Trump critic, Rep. Mark Sanford, in 2018 primary but lost in the general election.
Arrington, like Fry, received Trump’s support. It wasn’t enough, though. CNN predicts that Mace will defeat Arrington in the three-candidate election. Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who served as UN ambassador during the Trump administration, backed Mace.
In a rare show of goodwill, Trump congratulated Mace on his new social media site, but called Rice’s loss “the greatest News of the evening.”
Nevada, Maine, North Dakota, and a special election in Texas’ 34th Congressional District were also on the ballot Tuesday, with the most heated contests pitting Republicans against each other for nominations ahead of a midterm general election that looks increasingly bleak for Democrats trying to keep their slim majority in the US House and Senate.
Recent Democratic supremacy in Nevada will be put to the test in the autumn by Silver State Republicans, who plan to run a slew of general election candidates up and down the ticket who have embraced Trump’s claims about the 2020 election to varying degrees following Tuesday night.
CNN predicts that former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt will win the Republican nomination to face Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, one of the party’s most vulnerable incumbents.
He fended off a late push from political newcomer Sam Brown, a retired Army captain who got a Purple Heart after suffering horrific burn injuries in Afghanistan and gained a late endorsement from Trump.
After Trump’s loss in Nevada, Laxalt, whose late grandpa Paul Laxalt served as governor and subsequently as one of the state’s US senators for two terms, acted as the former President’s 2020 campaign co-chair in the state and peddled baseless charges of voting fraud.
He was defeated in his most recent run for statewide office, the 2018 gubernatorial election. This year, he has the support of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and other prominent conservatives who are eyeing the presidential election in 2024.
The race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, and a November showdown with Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, were typical of the modern Republican Party because all three candidates endorsed Trump, a symbol of his movement’s growing power. However, CNN predicts that Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, the former President’s endorsed candidate, will overcome former Senator Dean Heller and Joey Gilbert, a lawyer and retired boxer, to win the GOP nomination.
The Nevada secretary of state primary on Tuesday will have a big impact on the election in 2024.
The contest to fill the term-limited Republican Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske’s seat might have slipped under the national political radar in previous years. But, in the aftermath of Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election results, which Cegavske ignored, and in light of other recent, successful Republican initiatives to restrict vote access, Democrats are refocusing their attention on election oversight offices.
In the Democratic primary, Cisco Aguilar, an attorney and former assistant for the late Senator Harry Reid, ran unopposed. Former state Assemblyman Jim Marchant, who CNN predicts will win the Republican nomination, launched an unsuccessful lawsuit after losing his 2020 House campaign and has stated that if he had been in Cegavske’s seat after the election, he would not have validated Biden’s victory in Nevada.
A couple of the state’s Democratic House members were facing primary challenges down the ballot. CNN predicts that Rep. Dina Titus will be re-elected, defeating progressive rival Amy Vilela, who was just backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders. During the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, the Vermont independent won the Nevada caucuses.
The lights were turned on again in Texas on Tuesday night, this time for a special election to finish out the term of former Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela in the soon-to-be-gone 34th Congressional District. Vela’s departure in late March to work for a law and lobbying company opened the seat in a district that Biden narrowly won in 2020 but is set to become more solidly blue-leaning after redistricting in November. The special election was held inside the borders of the existing district.
In a special election in Texas, Republicans are attempting to send a message to Democrats.
Democrat Dan Sanchez, a former Cameron County Commissioner, succumbed to Republican Mayra Flores on Tuesday night. CNN has yet to make a prediction in the contest. Flores’ victory would give Republicans an extra seat in the House, but only for a few months.
Republicans were heavily involved in the special election, hoping to give Flores, their general election contender for the new seat, a leg up on Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who currently represents the 15th Congressional District.
“Despite being outspent by millions of dollars from out-of-state interests and the entire Republican machine,” Sanchez said in a statement, “We came up short tonight.” “Too many variables conspired against us, including a lack of support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Democratic Party.”
Flores would be the country’s first Mexican-born member of Congress, a milestone Republicans hope to use to demonstrate the party’s growing support among Hispanic voters in South Texas ahead of her showdown with Gonzalez.
The major night scenery in Maine was dominated by more familiar faces.
Former Republican Governor Paul LePage, who once dubbed himself “Donald Trump before Donald Trump became popular,” is back on the ballot in the general election, seeking to reclaim his former job against Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, a longstanding political rival. Both candidates ran unopposed in their primaries ahead of a rematch in November.
In the state’s 2nd Congressional District, where the nominee will face Rep. Jared Golden, one of the Democratic Party’s most vulnerable incumbents, the Republican field was more competitive. Former Rep. Bruce Poliquin will defeat Caratunk Selectwoman Liz Caruso in the primary, CNN predicts. Poliquin lost his seat to Golden in 2018 after neither candidate could secure a majority and the race was decided by Maine’s ranked-choice system.
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In North Dakota, where Republican Sen. John Hoeven is expected to win, there was less drama. Riley Kuntz, a conservative activist, will be defeated by John Hoeven for the Republican nomination. In November, Hoeven is anticipated to be easily reelected in the deep red state, defeating Katrina Christiansen, who CNN predicts will be the Democratic nominee.