Trump-backed candidates have mixed success during primaries in several key states

Nearly half of the country has now chosen party nominees for November's midterm elections. Tuesday's primaries, from South Carolina to Nevada, made clear that for many Republicans, loyalty to former President Trump is still the key to success. The Washington Post's Annie Linskey joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Nearly half of the country has now chosen party nominees for November's midterm elections. Yesterday's primaries from South Carolina to Nevada made clear that, for many Republicans, loyalty to Donald Trump is still the key to success.

    The biggest win for the former president came in the Palmetto State, where five-term incumbent congressman Tom Rice, one of the 10 House Republicans who supported Trump's impeachment, was pushed out by pro-Trump state Representative Russell Fry.

    The Washington Post's Annie Linskey has been following yesterday's results, and she joins me now.

    Welcome back to the "NewsHour," Annie Linskey.

    So let's start by talking about these South Carolina House races. There were two of them I want to ask you about, but one, this resounding rejection of Tom Rice by voters in his Republican — this Republican primary. He never backed down in his criticism of President Trump.

  • Annie Linskey, The Washington Post:

    Yes, that's right.

    He essentially doubled down, using a — employing a different strategy than we have seen with other Republicans who have gotten the ire of Trump. He said that he voted for — to impeach the president and continued to talk about it on the trail. He said to one of my colleagues, calling Trump a tyrant.

    And the president, the former president reads this coverage very closely.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yes.

  • Annie Linskey:

    So he continued at it. And he attracted a Trump-backed challenger, and we saw him lose.

    I mean, we had gone into yesterday thinking perhaps it would go to a run-off. But it was a resounding defeat.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Two to one.

    But different story in another South Carolina district we have been watching, Representative Nancy Mace. She didn't vote to impeach President Trump, but she did side with Vice President Pence in saying that he couldn't certify — or couldn't refuse to certify the 2020 election results. Former President Trump didn't like that. He went after her.

    But she continued to say nice things about him in her race, even though she wasn't endorsed by him.

  • Annie Linskey:

    Right. And then — and had a different result.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Right.

  • Annie Linskey:

    I mean, she also had a primary challenger who was also backed by Trump. So it's not as if Trump really accepted the sort of olive branch that she reached out to him with.

    But, on the trail, her posture was really different. And she kept on saying good things about him. She went to Trump Tower and famously recorded a video explaining why she's with him and why his supporters should back him. So she really kind of bowed down to him in a way that Rice did not.

    And then you saw very different results, where she was able to stay in power, and he was not.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yes.

  • Annie Linskey:

    And I think it's emerging here as a potential playbook for Republicans who do somehow cross Trump in some ways.

    If they stand up to him, they better very quickly turn around and try to make amends.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, of course, depending on how they read the — their constituents in their district or their state.

  • Annie Linskey:

    Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But let's talk about Nevada now.

  • Annie Linskey:

    Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We're looking at a couple of statewide races there, Senate, governor and then the secretary of state.

    This is where former President Trump's endorsement is a clear plus. Adam Laxalt, running for the Senate, eagerly endorsed by — lashed himself to President Trump, and then a really interesting — talk about that, but also a really interesting secretary of state candidate.

  • Annie Linskey:

    Oh, yes. Yes.

    I mean, I hate to do this, but coming out of Nevada, Donald Trump really did have a royal flush. I mean, every person he endorsed ended up advancing. And the Laxalt seat is particularly interesting. That's the Senate primary — Senate primary.

    And he was backed not only by Trump, but also by Trump's son Donald Trump Jr., who in the last sort of moments of the campaign, the last days of the campaign, went out there and campaigned with him. And so what you're seeing in Nevada is Donald Trump Jr. also sort of establishing a power base of his own. He did the same thing in Ohio, where he went out and really went in big for J.D. Vance, and there was a success there too.

    And then the secretary of state race, and that's really the one to watch, I think. I mean, we're not used to paying close attention to secretary of state races.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    For sure.

  • Annie Linskey:

    I mean, I think most of — most people probably didn't know what that position did before 2020.

    But in this case, this secretary of state race who's an — secretary of state candidate who is an election denier, and has organized other election deniers around the country to run in secretary of state races.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yes.

    He has played an active role, Jim Marchant, yes.

  • Annie Linskey:

    Jim Marchant won last night. And I think that is something that the sort of pro-democracy groups are — they were watching that race closely and are really worried about his advance, because it changes the way that — Nevada is a swing state, and he will have an incredible amount of influence over how Nevada's election is run in 2024.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Because the role of secretary…

  • Annie Linskey:

    If he wins. If he wins.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Judy Woodruff:

    That's right, if he wins.

    But the role of secretaries of state is typically to oversee elections, which could have huge consequences in — this November.

  • Annie Linskey:

    Huge consequences, yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Couple of things I want to ask you about, but you have been doing some really interesting reporting in the last few days, Annie Linskey, about, in a few states, a few places around the country, Democrats, we know they're going to be running ads against Republicans.

    But they are running ads in some places for Republicans who they think may be a weaker opponent in the fall.

  • Annie Linskey:

    This has been a tactic that I have been really astounded by.

    On the one hand, you do have Democrats during the January 6 Committee hearings talking about democracy, about the importance of drawing the line between, as Biden calls them, ultra MAGA candidates. But some of the democratic election committees are running ads to help promote the far right candidates, believing they will be a little easier to be in November.

    Democratic strategists that I have talked to say that this is a very dangerous game, and you have to be careful what you wish for. And you will remember, of course, Hillary Clinton thought that Donald Trump would be easy to beat. And that wasn't the case. So, when you play these games, you do need to…

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yes, you're taking…

  • Annie Linskey:

    You do need to be careful what you wish.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And you do — you're taking a risk. It's not something that — we have seen it before in American politics.

  • Annie Linskey:

    Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But, right now, it's something we're keeping a very close eye on.

    Annie Linskey of The Washington Post, thanks so much.

  • Annie Linskey:

    Thank you. Great to be here.

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