'Not a foregone conclusion:' Republicans confront limits of Trump's endorsement

Adam Wollner, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

Similarly, the former president’s opposition hasn’t ensured defeat. Of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice was the only one who was outraised by a primary challenger in the last fundraising period.

“Trump’s endorsement is a powerful card to play in a Republican primary,” said veteran Republican pollster Neil Newhouse. “Just an endorsement by itself will make a difference, but not the difference.”

Trump did notch a victory earlier in the year by endorsing Republican Julia Letlow, who went on to win the special election in Louisiana’s 5th congressional district.

He will face his next test on Tuesday in Ohio’s 15th congressional district, where he endorsed former energy lobbyist Mike Carey in the 11-candidate GOP primary. A Trump-aligned super PAC started airing $350,000 worth of ads on Carey’s behalf this week.

Several Republicans have shown a willingness to buck Trump in the race. A super PAC tied to Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has run nearly $500,000 in ads boosting former state Rep. Ron Hood.


Former Rep. Steve Stivers, who previously held the seat, endorsed state Rep. Jeff LaRae. And Debbie Meadows, the wife of former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, is supporting former Columbus NAACP President Ruth Edmonds through her Right Women PAC.

As in Texas, Republicans say they anticipate a low-turnout and unpredictable election in Ohio. Trump released a statement this week reminding voters that Carey “is the only one who has my Endorsement.”

Doug Preisse, the former chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party in Ohio, said Carey has embraced the endorsement “wholeheartedly” throughout the campaign.

“It is an interesting test case that a lot of people are watching closely,” Preisse said.

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