Factbox-Power of Trump's endorsements faces test in 12 U.S. midterm primaries

·6 min read

(Reuters) - Former U.S. President Donald Trump seeks to demonstrate his power over the Republican Party with more than 150 endorsements of candidates ahead of a midterm election on Nov. 8 that will determine control of Congress for 2023 and 2024.

Twelve picks in primary elections taking place stand out among the many. Some are Republicans opposing incumbent members of his party.

WINNERS IN PRIMARIES

Ted Budd

* Seeks U.S. Senate seat for North Carolina vacated by retiring Republican Senator Richard Burr

A rank-and-file member of the House of Representatives, Budd had little statewide name recognition before he sought the Republican nomination for what is expected to be a tight race in November. But following Trump's endorsement, he surged in public opinion polls and easily defeated former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory in the May 17 primary.

In November, Budd will face Democrat Cheri Beasley, a Black woman who formerly served as the state's chief justice.

J.D. Vance

* Seeks U.S. Senate seat for Ohio vacated by retiring Republican Senator Rob Portman

Trump-backed Vance triumphed in a crowded May 3 Republican primary and is favored to win in November against Democrat Tim Ryan, currently a U.S. Representative for Ohio, although some political observers expect a stiff challenge from Ryan.

Vance is best known as the author of best-seller "Hillbilly Elegy" which documented the descent of factory towns in states like Ohio into poverty and drug abuse. He has styled himself as an angry populist in the Trump mold, seeking to shed his prior reputation as a Trump critic.

STILL UNDECIDED

Mehmet Oz

* Seeks U.S. Senate seat for Pennsylvania vacated by retiring Republican Senator Pat Toomey

Oz, a celebrity doctor whose endorsement by Trump divided Republican leaders in Pennsylvania, remained locked on Wednesday in a race with former hedge fund CEO David McCormick that is so tight it might automatically trigger an official recount.

Votes were still being counted in the May 17 Republican primary. The eventual winner will face Democrat John Fetterman in what is expected to be among the tightest races of the November election.

UPCOMING RACES

Herschel Walker

* Seeks to defeat incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia

* May 24 Republican primary

A retired football star, Walker is favored to win the Republican nomination contest and public opinion polls already point to a close race in November against Warnock, a pastor. But Trump-endorsed Walker, who has never held elected office, has vulnerabilities including past allegations of domestic abuse. Groups backing Walker's Republican primary opponents are planning ad campaigns that argue Walker cannot beat Warnock because of his baggage.

David Perdue

* Seeks to defeat Georgia incumbent Republican Governor Brian Kemp

* May 24 Republican primary

In 2021, Perdue conceded that he lost his U.S. Senate seat to Democrat Jon Ossoff, but in March 2022 reversed himself, voicing false claims that the election was stolen, although the evidence of fraud that he cited was part of a case that was ultimately dismissed by a judge. Kemp angered Trump by dismissing the former president's false statements about election fraud but holds a double-digit lead over Perdue in opinion polls.

Katie Arrington

* Seeks to defeat incumbent U.S. Republican Representative Nancy Mace

* June 14 Republican primary for South Carolina's 1st congressional district

The South Carolina state representative is challenging a sitting Republican lawmaker who voted against Trump's impeachment. Mace irked the former president shortly after taking office in January 2021 when she said Congress should consider censuring Trump for his role in his supporters' assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Arrington has trailed Mace in public opinion polls.

Russell Fry

* Seeks to defeat incumbent U.S. Republican Representative Tom Rice

* June 14 Republican primary for South Carolina's 7th congressional district

Trump's pick to unseat Rice, one of a handful of Republicans who voted to impeach the former leader, is a state representative whose campaign had nearly a half million dollars in the bank on March 31, pointing to a potentially competitive race with Rice.

Loren Culp

* Seeks to defeat incumbent U.S. Republican Representative Dan Newhouse

* Aug. 2 Republican primary for Washington's 4th congressional district

Trump's pick to challenge Newhouse is former small-town police chief Loren Culp, who in March called for the execution of a Black man accused of badly injuring a woman by throwing her down the stairs of a train station. Trump had endorsed Culp in February, angered by Newhouse's 2021 impeachment vote.

John Gibbs

* Seeks to defeat incumbent U.S. Republican Representative Peter Meijer

* Aug. 2 Republican primary for Michigan's 3rd congressional district

A former housing official under Trump, Gibbs' nomination to head the U.S. Office of Personnel Management floundered after lawmakers from both parties questioned his history of inflammatory tweets, including references to baseless conspiracy theories about Democrats and Satanism. His opponent Meijer, who voted to impeach Trump, is far ahead in fundraising. The winner of the nomination contest will face a Democrat in what is expected to be among the tightest House races in November.

Joe Kent

* Seeks to defeat incumbent U.S. Republican Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler

* Aug. 2 Republican primary for Washington's 3rd congressional district

Former special forces officer Kent has campaigned with far right U.S. representative Matt Gaetz of Florida and told Oregon Public Broadcasting he held a social media strategy call with white nationalist Nicholas Fuentes, though he said he disagreed with Fuentes' "ethno-nationalism." Kent's campaign had more than $1 million in the bank on March 31, setting up a strong challenge to incumbent Herrera Beutler, who voted to impeach Trump.

Kelly Tshibaka

* Seeks to defeat incumbent U.S. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska

* Aug. 16 open primary contest

Trump is backing Tshibaka, a former Alaska state administration commissioner, to unseat Murkowski, who was one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump in 2021 on charges he incited insurrection. The Alaska contest has taken on the shade of a proxy war between Trump and Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, who vowed to do everything possible to help the campaign of Murkowski, one of the Senate's few Republican moderates.

Harriet Hageman

* Seeks to defeat incumbent U.S. Republican Representative Liz Cheney

* Aug. 16 Wyoming at-large-district Republican primary

Trump threw his backing behind Hageman, a land-use lawyer, in September 2021, looking to punish Cheney, who was stripped of her role as the No. 3 House Republican for voting to impeach the former president on a charge of inciting insurrection. Hageman led Cheney by 20 percentage points in a December poll.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Scott Malone and Howard Goller)

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