By David Morgan WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Republican U.S. Representatives Tom Rice and Nancy Mace waited on Tuesday to learn their political fates in South Carolina after closely watched primary election campaigns against two challengers endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Rice, a five-term incumbent, and Mace, a freshman, each ran afoul of Trump after his supporters […]
Two Republicans try to fend off Trump challengers in South Carolina
By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Republican U.S. Representatives Tom Rice and Nancy Mace waited on Tuesday to learn their political fates in South Carolina after closely watched primary election campaigns against two challengers endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
Rice, a five-term incumbent, and Mace, a freshman, each ran afoul of Trump after his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, while Congress worked to certify the 2020 presidential election. The riot is now the subject of a bipartisan congressional investigation that focused this week on Trump’s false claims of a stolen 2020 election.
Rice, one of 10 congressional Republicans to vote for Trump’s impeachment, trailed his Trump-backed challenger Russell Fry 46% to 27% with about a quarter of the vote counted, according to Edison Research.
Mace, who drew Trump’s ire by refusing to back Republican efforts to challenge the 2020 presidential election results, led Trump-endorsed Republican Katie Arrington 56% to 41%, with about one in six expected votes counted.
Trump, who turned 76 on Tuesday, had asked supporters to give him two birthday presents by defeating Rice and Mace.
The congressional candidates each need more than 50% of Tuesday’s vote to avoid a June 28 run-off. Whoever ultimately wins the two Republican contests will likely be elected to Congress in November.
The results will be seen as a measure of Trump’s continued influence over the Republican Party as he hints at another run for the White House in 2024. His endorsees so far have had mixed success in battleground states including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina.
Voters also cast ballots on Tuesday in Nevada, Maine and North Dakota to choose party nominees to compete in the November general elections for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
With Democratic President Joe Biden slumping in the polls and soaring inflation souring voters’ moods, Republicans are expected to win control of the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate. That would bring Biden’s legislative agenda to a halt and give Republicans the power to launch investigations that could be politically damaging.
A Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll completed on Tuesday showed Biden’s public approval rating at 39%, in its third straight weekly decline, approaching the lowest level of his presidency. Fifty-six percent of Americans disapprove of Biden’s job performance.
REPUBLICANS EYE SENATE PICKUP
In Nevada, Trump-endorsed Adam Laxalt leads a crowded field of Republican primary contenders seeking the party’s nomination for a crucial U.S. Senate race.
Republicans are looking to pick up the seat held by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the 2022 midterm campaign.
Laxalt, a former state attorney general, holds a 15-point advantage over his nearest rival, political newcomer Sam Brown, according to a May poll by the Nevada Independent. Laxalt is the son of former New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici and the grandson of former Nevada governor and U.S. Senator Paul Laxalt.
Republican Jim Marchant, who falsely claims the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, is vying for a chance to become Nevada’s top election official.
Among 2020 election deniers running for elections posts across the country, Marchant has distinguished himself by claiming that elections have been rigged for decades and by arguing that electronic voting machines should be replaced by paper ballots. He blamed his own 2020 U.S. House loss to Democratic Representative Steven Horsford on election fraud.
Marchant faces six other Republican candidates in the secretary of state contest and has received endorsements from high-profile conservatives, including former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and pro-Trump businessman Mike Lindell.
Republicans also will select nominees to run against three vulnerable House Democrats from Nevada – Horsford, Dina Titus and Susie Lee.
Titus, who entered Congress in 2009, faces a challenge for her party nomination from progressive Democrat Amy Vilela, who is endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders.
The Republican field in Titus’ district includes former Nevada Trump campaign aide Carolina Serrano, retired Army Colonel Mark Robertson and pro-Israel activist David Brog. Brog is endorsed by Trump’s former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
In Maine, Paul LePage, whose turbulent eight years as the state’s governor foreshadowed Trump’s rise, ran unopposed for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Governor Janet Mills in November.
LePage, who once described himself as “Donald Trump before Donald Trump became popular,” was widely criticized as governor for his inflammatory remarks on a host of topics from immigration, the environment and LGBTQ issues to abortion and voting rights. He left office with an approval rating below 40%.
(Reporting by David Morgan; additional reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Cynthia Osterman)