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MAGA Army Could Change the Face of Congress as More Than 200 Trump-Backed Candidates March to Midterm Election
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 primaries season that showed the ex-president, for the most part, is the de facto leader of the Republican Party remains.
Trump has so far played a heavy hand in the 2022 election cycle, supporting candidates for both Congress and the state executive in races that don’t normally get the national attention he has brought to them.
He has also flown across the country campaigning with their constituents in his signature “Make America Great Again” rallies, including one next Saturday in Ohio for Senate candidate JD Vance.
It turned out to have worked for him – with a success rate of over 90 percent.
Overall, Trump’s favorite candidates in the Senate races won 100 percent of the time from primaries that have already taken place. He has helped 18 candidates advance into November, with two races still pending.
But some of the candidates he backs — like Herschel Walker in Georgia and Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania — seem to have incumbent Republicans worried about their eligibility in a general race in which independent voters play a key role.
Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell expressed reservations about how certain candidates would fare in upcoming races statewide at an event at the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce last month.
“I think the House is more likely to overturn than the Senate,” McConnell said. “Senate races are just different, they’re statewide. The quality of the candidate has a lot to do with the outcome.’
On the House side, Trump has encountered much less resistance to his candidate choices.
The former president’s candidates have won all but five races in the regular primaries, out of a total of 158 statements of support. That includes three races that are still pending.
Trump-approved candidates have won more than 90 percent of their races nationwide in state and federal competitions
Trump faced a recent high-profile loss when former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, a vocal ally of his, lost her special election to serve the term of the late Rep. Don Young to complete. However, with Alaska’s ranked-choice voting system, Palin got enough votes for another shot at a full term in the seat in November.
Only one of the 131 Trump-backed incumbents lost their race – Rep. Madison Cawthorn was narrowly defeated after a series of embarrassing public incidents and millions of dollars spent by fellow Republicans to bring him down.
His success rate could be attributed in part to – for the most part – supporting incumbents in their reelection bids.
Trump also did well in open races — barring the Alaska special primaries or the upcoming Louisiana election, his house candidates won 16 of the 18 open Republican primaries.
The ex-president’s influence faltered somewhat when it came to electoral hopefuls hoping to oust current GOP officials.
He lost two of the six House races where he had hoped to fire the current representatives.
Katie Arrington lost to South Carolina representative Nancy Mace, despite Trump’s appearance before her in Florence earlier this year.
and Rep. Dan Newhouse also managed to win a win against Trump-backed Loren Culp, despite voting to impeach the ex-president after the US Capitol riots.
Two Trump-backed candidates for governor also failed to clinch victory over their incumbent challengers. Former Senator David Perdue, who was recruited by Trump to bring down Georgia Governor Brian Kemp over Kemp’s refusal to reverse the 2020 election results, was firmly defeated.
In Idaho, Janice McGeachin also failed to oust GOP Governor Brad Little.
Trump’s Top MAGA Lighting Rods
Herschel Walker in Georgia is an old friend of Donald Trump, back from the days when Walker played on Trump’s now-defunct professional soccer team. But his alleged history of domestic violence and self-proclaimed borderline personality disorder have cast doubt on his suitability for the office.
Walker runs for Senate against Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock.
Trump even raised eyebrows with his hardcore supporters when he offered support Mehmet Ozo in Pennsylvania, who is now running for Senate against progressive populist state Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman.
Oz’s, a famous TV doctor, has messed up his own race with a series of gaffes that have seized his opponent to portray him as someone who has lost touch with ordinary Pennsylvanians. His primary residence is also in New Jersey.
Trump’s choice for governor in Pennsylvania, Doug Mastiano, is also in a tight race against his Democratic opponent. Mastriano’s far-right beliefs include support for conversion therapy and theories that the 2020 election was stolen.
Mastriano recently got heat for an earlier photo of himself in a Confederate uniform. He also protested the 2020 results in DC on Jan. 6 last year, even 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 electoral fraud lies.
Establishment Republicans, including Mike Pence, initially supported Lake’s more moderate rival, but fell in line behind Trump after Lake took a narrow victory.
Trump’s endorsement 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 Governor Candidate Dan Cox sailed to a primary victory with Trump’s endorsement — though he is now widely seen as a long-term candidate in November’s race in the moderate state.
Term-restricted GOP Governor Larry Hogan called Cox “a lunatic” during a radio interview. Cox previously admitted to organizing busloads of Trump supporters for his “Stop The Steal” rally that preceded the Capitol riots.
Ex-Trump government official John Gibbs got the backing of the ex-president to defeat pro-impeachment GOP representative Peter Meijer in Michigan.
But Gibbs, who once said Hillary Clinton’s longtime campaign manager engages in satanic rituals, was also helped by House Democrats funneling money into his race in the hopes that he would push more moderate voters to the left in November.
Florida House candidate Anna Paulina Luna won her primary with Trump’s support, having previously lost to Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist.
She is running in a newly redrawn Florida Congressional map that is expected to give Republicans a head start in much of the state.
Trump’s heavy hand in this year’s midterm elections will be testament to his continued influence over Republican voters
The Peach State’s gubernatorial primary was widely seen as a proxy war between more traditional Republicans, such as Trump’s ex running mate Mike Pence, and the former president. Pence had thrown his weight behind Kemp, well after Trump clung to Perdue.
But Trump saw the opposite effect in Arizona, where ex-TV host Kari Lake earned his approval for fervently promoting his 2020 election fraud claims.
She defeated businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robson despite Robson’s history in the Reagan administration and the support of key incumbent Republicans at the state and federal levels.
Charles Herbster’s Trump-backed race for Nebraska governorship derailed amid groping accusations from multiple women, all of which he has denied.
The former president has been defensive about his mid-term picks, celebrating on his Truth Social app when they’ve won, while hesitating to comment on the losers.
But despite their reluctance to embrace all Trump candidates, regular Republicans like McConnell have reluctantly stood behind them in key races like the Georgia Senate election between Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican ex-NFL star Herschel Walker.
In response to McConnell’s comment about the “quality” of candidates late last month, Trump lashed out by calling him a “broken hack” and accused him of not doing enough to help Republicans during the midterm elections.
“Why are Republicans (sic) allowing senators to openly discredit hardworking Republican candidates for the United States Senate with a broken hack politician, Mitch McConnell,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social app.
“This is such an insult to honor and leadership.”