The biggest question mark around the 2018 midterm elections has been whether or not candidates endorsed by President Trump would be successful in their primaries. On August 7th, a slew of primaries were held in key states across the country including Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington. A special election also took place for the house seat in Ohio’s 12th congressional district. Prior to Tuesday, primaries had already been held in 31 states, and the following candidates in those states both won the endorsement of Trump and won their primary
- Lou Barletta: GOP nominee for United States senator from Pennsylvania
- Marsha Blackburn: GOP nominee for United States Senator from Tennessee
- Kevin Cramer: GOP nominee for United States Senator from North Dakota
- Ted Cruz: Incumbent GOP Senator from Texas
- Mitt Romney: GOP nominee for United States Senator from Utah
- Roger Wicker: Incumbent GOP Senator from Mississippi
- Katie Arrington: GOP nominee for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District
- Dan Donovan: Incumbent GOP Rep. from New York’s 11th Congressional District
- David Kustoff: Incumbent GOP Rep. from Tennessee’s 8th Congressional District
- Martha Roby: Incumbent GOP Rep. from Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District
- Greg Abbott: Incumbent GOP Governor from Texas
- John Cox: GOP nominee for Governor of California
- Brian Kemp: GOP nominee for Governor of Georgia
- Adam Laxalt: GOP nominee for Governor of Nevada
- Bill Lee: GOP nominee for Governor of Tennessee
- Henry McMaster: Incumbent GOP Governor from South Carolina
The primaries held on August 7th proved to be another big success for President Trump as all candidates endorsed by Trump won their primaries, and won the 12th congressional district in Ohio.
In Kansas, Secretary of State Kris Kobach narrowly beat out incumbent Governor Jeff Colyer who was appointed in January after former Governor Sam Brownback was appointed as an ambassador to the Netherlands by President Trump. Colyer had previously served as Lieutenant Governor of Kansas with Brownback from 2011-18 while also previously serving in the Kansas House & Senate. Meanwhile, Kobach has served in his role since 2011 as well, previously being the chair of the Kansas Republican Party from 2007-09. Polling done as recently as August 3rd had Colyer narrowly winning the primary by 2 points, however after Trump gave a ringing endorsement to Kobach, he pulled ahead by just enough to win by less than 200 votes and only 0.1%. Also in Kansas, incumbent representative Kevin Yoder won the GOP primary in the 3rd congressional district.
In Michigan, GOP nominees for Senator and Governor who received endorsements from Trump won their primaries handily. The GOP nominee for Governor, Bill Schuette won his primary by 26 points, winning by large margins in the heavily Democratic areas of Kent & Wayne county. In fact, he won the GOP race by a higher percentage in those counties than his Democratic challenger for November won in her primary. Iraqi war veteran and businessman John James also won his primary in Michigan. James received a big endorsement from Trump just days before the primary, Trump called James a “great guy” and “future star” of the Republican Party. James won his primary by 10 points, also carrying Kent & Wayne counties, similar to Schuette.
Missouri showed the biggest support for a Trump endorsed candidate, as despite having 11 candidates in the GOP race, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley won 59% of the vote in his Senate primary victory. Hawley is a relative newcomer to the political world, having only served as Attorney General of Missouri since 2016, and previously being a law professor. Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill received only 82% of votes in her primary, despite facing candidates largely unheard of, who have never held any political offices.
Finally, in the heavily watched special election for Ohio’s 12th congressional district, Troy Balderson pulled ahead late and won the election by less than 1% over Democrat Danny O’Connor. Balderson won by only 1,700 votes in an election he was projected to lose before President Trump went to Ohio to campaign for him. Due to this being a special election where the term is supposed to end this November, this race will be run again with the same 2 candidates on Election Day, November 6th.
So far, a Trump endorsed candidate has yet to lose a primary for a Senate, House or Gubernatorial seat in 2018. More primaries are coming up later this month and early into September, with key races being held in Arizona, Florida, Minnesota and Wisconsin among other states.