May 25

By Lisa Hagen

Former President Donald Trump has had a series of successes – and some losses – since the midterm primary season ramped up in May. But in Tuesday’s primaries in Georgia, most statewide candidates endorsed by Trump suffered major defeats, hurting his political clout.

The Republican incumbents who earned the ire of Trump not only prevailed but had massive margins over Trump-endorsed candidates and avoided being forced into a runoff election. The former president has made dozens of endorsements in 2022 races, but he was most invested in taking out political foes in Georgia and made the rare move of using his own resources.

The most notable of those races was Georgia’s gubernatorial race, where incumbent Brian Kemp trounced former Sen. David Perdue by a margin of more than 50 percentage points. Trump went in big for Perdue, who lost his reelection for Senate in 2020 and frequently amplified the former president’s unsubstantiated claims about fraud in the presidential race.

But Kemp easily won with more than 70% of the vote and will now square off in a high-profile rematch with Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams in the fall. It’ll be one of the most watched races in the country as Georgia tests whether it’ll remain a swing state or turn red again.

In other major races, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger also easily defeated Rep. Jody Hice. Raffensperger was a huge target for Trump after 2020, when the top election official upheld President Joe Biden’s narrow victory in Georgia. Trump-endorsed candidates also lost in the primaries for state attorney general and insurance commissioner.

The string of losses comes after Trump has seen some electoral success in other primaries earlier this month. In Ohio, J.D. Vance captured the GOP Senate nomination in a crowded field that didn’t have a breakout candidate for most of the race. Trump’s preferred candidate prevailed in a member vs. member House primary in West Virginia.

But Trump has had mixed success in other states. Last week in Pennsylvania, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who ran far to the right, won the gubernatorial primary following an 11th-hour endorsement from Trump. But in the expensive and bitter Senate race, Trump-endorsed Mehmet Oz is locked in a tight race with David McCormick that could be headed to a recount.

And Trump had some expected wins in Georgia and beyond in Tuesday’s primaries.

His former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders prevailed in the Arkansas governor’s race for the GOP nomination.

And in Georgia, Herschel Walker, a former professional football star, easily won the Republican primary to take on Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in November. Walker won in a six-person race with more than 68% of the vote.

Georgia’s Senate race will be one of the most competitive of the midterm cycle and could help determine which party takes the majority. Warnock is seen as one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents of the cycle because of an expected turbulent political environment for the party, which controls the White House and both chambers of Congress.

But Republicans worry that if Walker doesn’t address his past, including allegations of domestic violence, which he has denied, and clarifications about his business record, he could face a much harder challenge in flipping the seat for his party.

“It’s up to Herschel Walker to close that gap in the general election,” Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan said Tuesday in an MSNBC interview. “If he’s going to beat Raphael Warnock, he’s going to have to close the gap on the issues. He’s going to have to talk about his past.”