Several Republican candidates endorsed by former United States President Donald Trump have won in the latest round of primary polls ahead of midterm elections, which will determine the makeup of the country’s legislature as well as governors nationwide.
Democratic and Republican registered voters in Kentucky, Idaho, North Carolina, Oregon and Pennsylvania went to the polls on Tuesday to decide which contenders would represent their party in the November midterm elections, in which all seats in the US House of Representatives and 35 seats in the 100-member US Senate will be decided.
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The midterm polls will also determine the top state officials across the country, with Republicans in Pennsylvania on Tuesday electing far-right firebrand Doug Mastriano to take on Democratic nominee Josh Shapiro, the state’s attorney general.
Mastriano has been one of the most vocal candidates who supported Trump’s unfounded claims the 2020 presidential election, which he lost to incumbent President Joe Biden, was marred by widespread election fraud. He was among thousands of Trump supporters who marched on the US capitol on January 6, 2021, but has claimed he left before violent Trump supporters stormed the seat of the US legislature.
Notably, Mastriano has said if he had been governor of Pennsylvania, an influential swing state, in 2020, he would not have certified Biden’s victory. This is despite the Democrat winning by a margin of nearly100,000 votes in the state.
Meanwhile, a race to decide the Republican candidate for an open US Senate seat in Pennsylvania remained too close to call, with television wellness personality Mehmet Oz neck and neck with hedge fund executive David McCormick.
If elected to the party ticket, Trump-endorsed Oz, who is also a vocal denier of the 2020 election results, could have a chance to become the first Muslim ever elected to the Senate, as well as the most high-profile Muslim in the Republican party, which has long been accused of Islamophobia. He would face Democrat John Fetterman, who has adopted a campaign uniform of hooded sweatshirts and shorts that underlines his everyman appeal.
Other notable races on Tuesday saw firebrand Republican congressman Madison Cawthorn lose his bid for re-election to 61-year-old Chuck Edwards. Trump-endorsed Cawthorne, 26, riled party brass with a string of embarrassing scandals, including claiming that conservative leaders invited him to a cocaine-fuelled orgy and a video that showed him nude and gyrating against another person.
In North Carolina, a Trump-endorsed candidate, US Representative Ted Budd, won the state’s Republican US Senate nomination.
Budd, who beat former Governor Pat McCrory, will face Democratic former state Chief Justice Cheri Beasley for the open Senate seat, who is seeking to become the state’s first Black senator.
In Kentucky, libertarian Rand Paul, who regularly makes headlines for single-handidly holding up legislation otherwise supported by his Republican party, most recently a $40bn aid package to Ukraine, breezed to victory on Tuesday.