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Trump-backed candidates could add to primary wins

By AI HEPING in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-08-16 10:34

Nearly 180 candidates endorsed by former president Donald Trump have won their election primaries since May while fewer than 20 have lost, and Tuesday's contests are expected to strengthen his post-presidential effort to retain his hold on the Republican Party.

Trump's goal of unseating his Republican critics will be the top feature of the primary elections in Wyoming and Alaska, where two of his biggest critics — Representative Liz Cheney and Senator Lisa Murkowski — face Trump-endorsed challengers.

Murkowski is expected to win, but while Cheney took in millions of dollars for her campaign, outraising challenger Harriet Hageman, polls show Cheney trailing by large double-digit margins for a fourth term as Wyoming's lone member of the House of Representatives.

Hageman, a ranching industry attorney, is a former Cheney supporter who previously donated to her congressional campaign.

The daughter of former GOP vice-president Dick Cheney is a conservative who voted with Trump more than 90 percent of the time. Shortly after the Jan 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol, while Congress was in the middle of certifying the 2020 presidential election results, she condemned Trump and her GOP colleagues for spreading the unsuccessful claim that the election was stolen.

She joined nine other Republican House members in voting to impeach Trump for allegedly inciting his supporters to attack the Capitol.

Now she co-leads the House committee investigating the Jan 6 attack on the Capitol and has criticized Trump and even fellow Republicans during the hearings, starting with the panel's first publicly televised session: "I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible. There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain."

Murkowski faces a Trump-backed challenger after also voting to convict the former president during his second impeachment trial.

"I want him to resign. I want him out. He has caused enough damage," Murkowski said shortly after the Jan 6 attack on the Capitol building, making her the first Republican senator to call for his resignation.

Murkowski is seeking reelection to a seat she has held for nearly 20 years. She faces 18 opponents — the most prominent of which is Republican Kelly Tshibaka, who has been endorsed by Trump.

Murkowski is the only incumbent Republican senator whose opponent Trump has endorsed. The National Republican Senatorial Committee and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are backing Murkowski.

The Alaska contests also will see former Governor Sarah Palin's bid to join the House. Palin has been out of elected office for more than a decade. She was Senator John McCain's vice-presidential running mate in 2008. Endorsed by Trump, Palin finished first among 48 candidates to qualify for a special election.

Voters approved an elections overhaul in 2020, ending party primaries and instituting ranked voting in general elections. Palin is trying to secure the win against the Nos 2 and 4 finishers.

Tuesday's primaries will also see Wisconsin as the third state in which Trump and his former vice-president, Mike Pence, have backed opposing candidates for governor.

In Arizona, Trump's choice Kari Lake, a conservative commentator who has doubted the 2020 presidential election results, narrowly won the nomination. Pence's pick in Georgia, incumbent Governor Brian Kemp, defeated Trump-backed primary challenger David Perdue, a former senator, in a landslide.

In primaries on Aug 9, Trump's victories included a clean sweep of statewide elections in Arizona. Though many of his primary picks easily defeated opposing candidates, several will face strong opposition this fall, especially in governor's races in Democratic-leaning states such as Connecticut and Maryland.

While Trump's primary wins have been many, so are his legal entanglements, which have caused some consternation among his supporters.

But the FBI search of Trump's Florida residence last week caused such outrage among Republicans that even two of his potential rivals — Pence and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis — loudly supported him.

That outrage and the FBI search also have fueled his fundraising efforts. Ongoing investigations in Georgia and New York and the House select committee investigating Jan 6 all have given Trump loyalists a rallying cry ahead of the November midterm elections.

In Georgia, prosecutors are investigating Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. On Aug 10, Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination more than 500 times as he testified under oath in the New York attorney general's civil investigation into his business dealings.

Next month, public hearings by the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack, where testimony included damning details about Trump's behavior from Republican witnesses, will resume with promises of new material and witnesses.

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