This summer, as voters across the country cast ballots in the primaries, President Donald Trump has been eager to weigh in.
Trump has already endorsed more than 20 Republican candidates running for office in 2018. The formal endorsements have come from the president’s Twitter account — and they’ve all been virtually identical, referencing at least one of these key issues for Trump: crime and border security, taxes, and support for the military and veterans.
Since taking office, Trump’s record assisting Republican candidates has been mixed. Trump backed Roy Moore in last year’s high-profile Alabama Senate race, and Rick Saccone in a closely watched House race in Pennsylvania in March; both candidates lost. But recently, his support has proved helpful to a number of candidates. With Trump’s backing, Katie Arrington and Henry McMaster won GOP primaries in South Carolina, and Rep. Martha Roby safeguarded her nomination in Alabama, to cite just a few examples.
Here is a look at other candidates in upcoming primaries who Trump has endorsed.
Brian Kemp: Georgia governor’s race
Of Trump’s 19 endorsements so far, his support for Brian Kemp, the Georgia secretary of state, was one of the most unexpected and controversial. Kemp is facing Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in Tuesday’s runoff primary for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Cagle has support from establishment Republicans in the state, including current Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, who is term-limited. Kemp is a loyal Trump supporter and has emulated the president’s rhetoric and style in his campaign. In one ad, Kemp pledged to round up undocumented immigrants in his truck and drive them to the border, saying, “if you want a politically incorrect conservative, that’s me.” Trump’s endorsement mentioned Kemp’s love for the military, veterans and the Second Amendment. Trump also called Kemp “tough on crime, strong on the border and illegal immigration.”
If Kemp wins the runoff, he would face Democrat Stacey Abrams in November. Abrams, who would be Georgia’s first black female governor, has put together a coalition of mostly young, non-white voters. A fall contest between Abrams and Kemp could become one of the most closely watched midterm races.
Rep. Ron DeSantis: Florida governor’s race
Trump’s endorsement of Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., in Florida’s governor’s race also broke with party leadership, though the endorsement was was less controversial than backing Kemp in Georgia. DeSantis, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, is running as an insurgent candidate in the GOP governor’s primary against Adam Putnam, the agriculture commissioner. Putnam has roughly three times as much funding as DeSantis and widespread GOP backing.
Trump initially expressed support on Twitter for DeSantis last December, after watching him on Fox News, where the Florida Republican is a regular commentator and frequent critic of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Last month, Trump officially endorsed DeSantis on Twitter. In his endorsement, Trump cited DeSantis’ support for cutting taxes, support for veterans and the military, and his record on crime. The endorsement came one month after the New York Times reported that Vice President Mike Pence discouraged Trump from intervening in Florida’s election.
Rep. Lou Barletta: Pennsylvania Senate race
In choosing who to endorse, Trump has prioritized lawmakers who support his legislative agenda. But personal loyalty appears to be important, too. Take Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., who is running to unseat Democratic incumbent Sen. Bob Casey. When Trump endorsed Barletta in February he noted that the lawmaker was “one of my very earliest supporters.” Barletta backed Trump early on in the 2016 presidential election, and has rarely criticized him since Trump took office. Recently, Barletta stood by Trump after leaders of both parties denounced the president’s performance at his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Barletta has also defended the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which resulted in the separation of thousands of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Corey Stewart: Virginia Senate race
Corey Stewart has long been a fringe, far-right figure in Virginia politics. But he rose to national prominence in the past two years for his loyalty to Trump, impassioned defense of confederate monuments, and his associations with white supremacist leaders (Stewart has since tried to distance himself from white supremacists). Stewart, the Virginia state chairman for Trump’s 2016 campaign, is facing Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., in the state’s Senate race this November. Trump was quick to congratulate Stewart on Twitter after he won the GOP Senate primary last month.Trump also attacked Kaine, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 2016, calling him “weak on crime and borders” and in favor of tax hikes. Stewart has not received support from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the GOP Senate’s campaign arm.
Stewart trails Kaine in fundraising and in the polls, and few expect him to win a Senate seat in an increasingly blue state that Hillary Clinton won by five points in 2016.. But Trump has insisted that Stewart should not be underestimated, and will likely campaign with him this fall.
John Cox: California governor’s race
Trump’s endorsement of John Cox in the California governor’s race is an outlier on the president’s list of endorsements. Cox, a businessman who has failed in several past bids for elected office, has not centered his campaign on Trump’s legislative agenda. Instead, Cox has focused largely on more local issues, such as an unpopular gas tax increase passed by state Democrats last year. Cox has also admitted he did voted for libertarian candidate Gary Johnson over Trump in the 2016 presidential election, though he says he now regrets his decision. Cox has touted Trump’s endorsement, but he is undoubtedly less tied to the president than state Assemblyman Travis Allen, Cox’s Republican primary opponent and a staunch Trump supporter.
In California, the two candidates with the most votes in the primary end up on the ballot in November, regardless of their political party. Cox’s chances of winning against Democrat Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom are slim. But he is substantially more popular than Allen among key voting groups, including suburban women, which could give him better odds of making it onto the ballot in November.