Trump-Backed Primary Candidates Score in Arizona and Michigan, Fall in Washington

Trump-Backed Primary Candidates Score in Arizona and Michigan, Fall in Washington
Former President Donald Trump arrives to speak at the America First Policy Institute Agenda Summit in Washington on July 26, 2022. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
John Haughey

Former President Donald Trump’s endorsees were on ballots in five Aug. 2 Republican primaries, scoring wins in Arizona and Michigan, dual defeats in Washington state, and a draw, of sorts, in Missouri.

According to a Ballotpedia analysis of the 2022 primary cycle through Aug. 2, 12 of 15 Trump-endorsed gubernatorial candidates have won Republican primaries with four pending; 99 of 104 U.S. House Trump endorsees have advanced with more than 20 pending; and 15 of 16 U.S. Senate candidates with his endorsment have advanced with four pending.

The vast majority are incumbents who faced no or nominal primary challenges.

Of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, four have retired, three survived primary challenges by Trump-backed candidates, two lost their seats to America First inter-party rivals, and one—Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.)—awaits her fate in Wyoming’s Aug. 16 Republican primary.

Looking ahead, Trump has made several notable endorsements in Wisconsin’s Aug. 9 Republican primaries, including Tim Michels for governor, incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), and Derrick van Orden in the Republican primary for the state’s 3rd Congressional District.

Trump has also issued several prominent endorsements in Aug. 16 primaries.

Most notably: Kelly Tshibaka in her Alaska campaign against moderate three-term incumbent Sen. Lisa  Murkowski (R-Alaska) and the long-anticipated showdown in Wyoming’s Republican congressional district primary between Harriet Hageman and Cheney, co-chair of the House January 6 Investigation Committee and an avowed, vocal antagonizer of the former president.

Here’s a roundup of how key Trump-endorsed candidates fared in the Aug. 2 primaries:

Arizona Secretary of State

State Rep. Mark Finchem defeated his closest rival, Beau Lane, scoring 38 percent of the vote. Lane received 26 percent with two other hopefuls drawing at least 16 percent in a crowded field.
Finchem has made election integrity a cornerstone of his campaign following the disputed 2020 election and the forensic audit in Maricopa County.

“At the end of the day, I stand for the rule of law, that nobody has their thumb on the scale of election integrity and election justice,” Finchem told The Epoch Times.

“Mark was willing to say what few others had the courage to say,” Trump said, complimenting his “incredibly powerful stance on the massive voter fraud.”

Finchem will face former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, a Democrat, in the general election on Nov. 8. Fontes defeated Reginald Bolding 53 percent to 47 percent to win his party’s nomination.

Arizona U.S. Senate

Trump-endorsed tech entrepreneur Blake Masters blew past four other Republicans in the Arizona U.S. Senate Republican primary. In the Nov. 8 general election, he'll face incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), who didn’t face a primary challenger.

Masters received $15 million in campaign support from venture capitalist and longtime employer Peter Thiel and secured Trump’s endorsement in May.

“He’s strong on everything needed to keep Arizona first,” Trump said in a Masters ad that ran in July. “Mark Brnovich and Jim Lamon, on the other hand, will only let you down.”

In the last two days before the election, Trump surrogates campaigned for Masters. Stumping for him in Tucson and Phoenix were Richard Grenell, former director of national intelligence under Trump, and Kash Patel, chief of staff to the Trump Administration’s Secretary of Defense.

Masters has said that he believes Trump won the 2020 election that put President Joe Biden in the White House. That set him up in stark contrast to the early favorite in the race, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

Arizona Governor

With about 88 percent of the votes counted, Kari Lake had pulled ahead of Karrin Taylor Robson in a five-way battle for the Republican nomination for governor. Lake held the lead with 46.2 percent of the vote. Robson, a real estate developer and Arizona Board of Regents member, trailed at 44.4 percent.

The high-profile race pitted Trump-backed Lake versus Robson, who was endorsed by former vice president Mike Pence and eight past and present Republican governors, most notably former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Lake, a former Fox10 anchor, quickly gained momentum in the polls when Trump endorsed her in June. On July 22, he appeared at a “Save America” rally in Prescott Valley to support Lake. She characterized Robson as an “Establishment RINO” aligned with Arizona Democrats and establishment Republicans.

“I’m up against a billionaire—actually, her husband’s a billionaire,” Lake said at a Tucson campaign rally. “She’s spending more money than ever in a statewide race in the history of this country to try to defeat us. We’re not going to let her win. Arizona is not for sale and can’t be purchased. We’re going to send them a message.”

Robson portrayed Lake as an unknown quantity: an Obama Democrat turned Trump Republican only when she decided to run for office.

If she hangs on, Lake will face Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s current secretary of state, in November’s general election. Hobbs won the Democratic gubernatorial primary in a landslide.

Bowers Bounced

Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who delivered testimony to the House January 6 panel, lost his Republican primary bid to Trump-backed state Sen. David Farnsworth by more than 20 percentage points in a resounding rout.

Bowers has been censured by the Arizona Republican Party for “[demonstrating] he is unfit to serve the platform of the Republican Party of Arizona” and for going against “the will of the voter of the Republican Party in Arizona.” The state Republican Party called on voters to “expel him permanently from office” during the contest.

Trump criticized Bowers a day before the primary and called on voters to oust him.

“Remember Arizona, your so-called ‘Speaker,’ Rusty (an appropriate name because he is Rusty, just like steel gets rusty and weak) Bowers, is absolutely terrible,” he wrote on Truth Social.

In testimony in June before the House committee, Bowers claimed that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani had no evidence for election fraud after the November 2020 election.

Farnsworth said Bowers isn’t conservative enough and has become less so since becoming House speaker following the 2018 state elections.

“Of course, the big issue, I think, for everybody is the fact that I strongly believe that there was fraud in the 2020 election,” Farnsworth told the Associated Press last week. “And I feel like Rusty failed ... to take responsibility as speaker of the House and look into that election.”

Missouri U.S. Senator

The race to earn the Republican nod to succeed retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) was shaken up by Trump’s last-minute Aug. 1 endorsement in which he pledged his support to “Eric.”

Two of the top three contenders in the race were named Eric: Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens. Both accepted Trump’s endorsement, which he publicized on Truth Social as an endorsement for their respective campaigns.

But it was Schmidt who won, resoundingly, with Decision Desk HQ calling the race roughly an hour after polls closed on Aug. 2. He amassed nearly 300,000 votes, almost 46 percent of the tally, to easily cruise to a win. Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), who Trump definitively non-endorsed in July, finished second with 22 percent and Greitens closed with just less than 19 percent of the vote.

Schmitt, a former state treasurer who has served as Missouri attorney general since 2019, will face Democratic primary winner Trudy Busch Valentine, an heiress to the Anheuser-Busch brewing fortune, in the Nov. 8 general election.

Greitens served as governor of Missouri between 2017 and 2018, when he resigned while under investigation for ethical and sexual misconduct.

Michigan Governor

Tudor Dixon, a former steel sales manager and conservative commentator, got a late-campaign endorsement from Trump and cruised to a runaway win in Michigan’s Aug. 2 Republican gubernatorial primary.

A conservative online news anchor, Dixon founded Lumen News, a “pro-America, pro-Constitution” morning news program broadcast on Facebook. She'll challenge incumbent Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who didn’t face a primary test.

The Michigan Republican Party Committee declared Dixon the primary winner on Twitter shortly after 9 p.m., calling her “our gubernatorial candidate and the next governor of our state.”

She transitioned from unknown outsider to frontrunner amid the crowded Republican gubernatorial pack when Trump praised her—but none of the other hopefuls—at an April rally in Macomb County. However, Trump didn’t formally endorse Dixon until July 29.

Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District

Trump-endorsed John Gibbs defeated incumbent Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) in Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District Republican primary on Aug. 2, garnering more than 52 percent of the vote in a 4 percentage point victory.

Meijer was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach. Trump endorsed Gibbs for the Republican nomination.

Gibbs will face Democrat Hillary Scholten in the Nov. 8 general election in a redrawn 3rd Congressional District that once favored Republicans, but is now friendlier to Democrats. Scholten ran unopposed.

Meijer is “unelectable in November,” Gibbs told The Epoch Times before casting his vote on Aug. 2 in Byron Center, because the freshman legislator voted to impeach Trump and also “voted for the gun control bill.”

“Those are just two reasons why many Republicans would not support him in November,” he said.

Gibbs was a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) official during the Trump administration. He was appointed by Trump to lead the Office of Personnel Management but wasn’t confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Meijer voted to impeach Trump three days after the freshman legislator was sworn into the 117th Congress.

On Aug. 1, in a column that appeared on the Substack page Common Sense, Meijer criticized the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) for intervening by spending $435,000 in advertising to bolster Gibbs.

While the spot appeared to attack Gibbs, it also provided airtime for a campaign that didn’t have the funds to increase its name recognition on television in the Grand Rapids market, which critics say was the DCCC’s ultimate objective.

Meijer wrote that it would seem like “the Democrats would look at John Gibbs and see the embodiment of what they say they most fear. That as patriots they would use every tool at their disposal to defeat him and similar candidates that they’ve said are an existential threat. Instead, they are funding Gibbs.”

He noted that the ad purchase “was more than Gibbs raised over the entire duration of his campaign” and was almost 100 times what Trump provided to Gibbs, which amounted to “a single $5,000 contribution from the Save America Super PAC.”

“In other words, the Democrats are not merely attempting to boost a candidate over the finish line: They are subsidizing his entire campaign,” Meijer wrote.

He raised 10 times more money than Gibbs and had spent $2.1 million on the campaign compared to Gibbs’s $340,000 as of mid-July.

Four Republican Michigan House Incumbents

Trump-backed incumbent Republican Michigan Reps. John Moolenaar, Tim Walberg, and Lisa McClain all easily won their primaries against nominal opponents, while John James, the former president’s endorsee to take the seat now occupied by retiring Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.)—among the 10 Republican reps who voted for impeachment—won his primary.

Washington’s 3rd Congressional District

Trump-backed candidate Joe Kent failed to dislodge Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) from receiving the Republican nod in Washington state’s 3rd Congressional District, finishing third in the state’s ranked-choice “jungle” primary system, meaning that he won’t appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The leading 3rd Congressional District primary vote-getter was actually Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez with 32 percent of the tally. Six-term incumbent Beutler finished in second place with 24.5 percent and Kent finished third with less than 20 percent. Only the top two vote recipients in each primary contest, regardless of party, will advance to the Nov. 8 general election.

Buetler was among the 10 Republican congressional representatives to vote for Trump’s impeachment. The former president has called her a “RINO” and said that “she fights for the Washington swamp, not for the Washington state.” During a July 25 telephone rally for Kent, the former president called the former U.S. Army Green Beret a “tough cookie with a big, fat, beautiful heart.”

Washington’s 4th Congressional District

Trump-backed Loren Culp fell short in getting onto the Nov. 8 ballot. Four-term Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), among the 10 Republican congressional representatives who voted for impeachment, finished first in the race with 27.3 percent of the vote, Democrat Doug White finished second at 26 percent, and Culp finished third at 21.8 percent.

Finishing third in Washington’s ranked-choice “jungle” primary system means that you won’t appear on the general election ballot.

In June, Culp told The Epoch Times that he obtained Trump’s endorsement in February.
“I didn’t chase anybody’s endorsement, so Trump’s phone call was a complete surprise,” he said. “He read the endorsement letter to me and said he’s behind me 100 percent. Of course, all the other candidates attack me because they have to get through me first. We’re dealing with that.”
John Haughey reports on public land use, natural resources, and energy policy for The Epoch Times. He has been a working journalist since 1978 with an extensive background in local government and state legislatures. He is a graduate of the University of Wyoming and a Navy veteran. He has reported for daily newspapers in California, Washington, Wyoming, New York, and Florida. You can reach John via email at [email protected]
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