Two Trump-backed candidates win US midterm election primaries

PHILADELPHIA – Republican candidates endorsed by Mr Donald Trump won their party’s nominations for governor in Pennsylvania and for the US Senate in North Carolina on Tuesday (May 17), underscoring the former president’s clout in his party ahead of November’s midterm elections.

But Mr Madison Cawthorn, a Mr Trump-backed Republican congressman, lost his for a second term after angering party leaders with a dizzying string of self-inflicted scandals.

Pennsylvania state Senator Doug Mastriano, who has amplified Mr Trump’s false claims of 2020 voter fraud and marched on the US Capitol on Jan 6, 2021, will face Democratic Attorney-General Josh Shapiro in a governor’s race that could have major implications for abortion rights and election integrity.

Some Republican Party insiders feared that Mr Mastriano’s primary victory would prove Pyrrhic if he turned off moderate voters in the Nov 8 general election.

Mr Trump has endorsed more than 150 candidates as he tries to solidify his status as his party’s kingmaker, though his picks have not always prevailed.

Control of the US Congress – and with it the ability to advance or blockade Democratic President Joe Biden’s agenda – is at stake in the midterms.

In Pennsylvania’s marquee US Senate race, Lieutenant-Governor John Fetterman – a goateed, tattooed liberal whose fondness for hoodies and shorts has given him everyman appeal – won the Democratic nomination despite having been hospitalised since Friday after suffering a stroke.

Mr Fetterman, a progressive, defeated moderate US Representative Conor Lamb just hours after having had a pacemaker implanted to address the irregular heart rhythms that caused the stroke. He has said doctors expect a full recovery.

His Republican opponent remains to be decided, with another Mr Trump-backed candidate, TV wellness celebrity Mehmet Oz, locked in a tight battle with former hedge fund executive David McCormick.

With 90 per cent of the expected vote reported, Mr Oz was ahead of Mr McCormick by just over 500 ballots out of nearly 1.3 million counted, according to Edison Research. Conservative political commentator Kathy Barnette was far behind in third.

Under Pennsylvania law, any margin of 0.5 per cent or less triggers an automatic recount.

Both Mr Oz and Mr McCormick told supporters late on Tuesday that they expected to win but that a final result was not expected that night, given the number of outstanding mail ballots still to be counted.

“We’re not going to have a result tonight,” Mr Oz said.

In a statement, Mr Biden praised Mr Fetterman while warning that whoever prevails in the Republican contest “will be too dangerous, too craven, and too extreme” for the state.

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