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The big lessons from this year’s House of Representatives primaries: from the politics desk

Welcome to the online version of From the Political Bureauan evening newsletter featuring the latest reporting and analysis from the NBC News Politics team from the campaign trail, the White House and Capitol Hill.

In today’s edition, national political reporter Bridget Bowman breaks down how Trump’s influence has shaped the course of this year’s Republican Party primaries. Additionally, the campaign included Nnamdi Egwuonwu reports on the former president’s efforts to recruit rappers as surrogates on the trail.

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Two truths and a lie: lessons from the House of Representatives primaries so far

By Bridget Bowman

It’s still unclear whether House Freedom Caucus Chairman Bob Good has lost his Republican Party primary in Virginia, with mail-in and provisional ballots yet to be counted and a possible recount looming.

Still, the extremely narrow margin underlines two truths and one lie about this year’s Republican primary in the House of Representatives. The truths? It’s really, really hard to beat a sitting president. And it really, really helps to have it Trump at your side.

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The lie? That Trump’s approval is the most important thing in a Republican Party primary. Only good routes say Sen. John McGuire by a few hundred votes, a result that raises eyebrows for those who thought Trump’s seal of approval would help McGuire sail to victory.

But the fact that Good is so close to becoming the first member of Congress to lose to a primary challenger this cycle tells you that the former president remains a dominant force in the Republican fight.

Several other Republican incumbents have weathered tough primaries in recent weeks at Trump’s hand. On Tuesday, Rep. said Tom Cole of Oklahoma easily avoided a runoff, beating a wealthy challenger who had spent millions on the race. Cole told me last week that Trump’s support had been “tremendously helpful.”

Trump’s support also helped two South Carolina Republicans — Reps. Nancy Mace and William Timmons — win bitter primaries earlier this month.

While many insurgent primary challengers have tried to join the MAGA movement, the vast majority of Trump’s nearly 170 votes in the House of Representatives this cycle — about 85% — have gone to incumbents, much to the delight of the party leadership . And most of those lawmakers don’t face competitive primaries.

Trump has so far backed only two primary challengers against incumbents: McGuire and Jerrod Sessler, a Navy veteran who is running against the Republican Republican Party. Then Nieuwhuis of Washington, one of two remaining Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted to impeach Trump after the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot.

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Which brings us back to the first truth: Incumbents are hard to beat, in part because they have built-in advantages in brand awareness, fundraising and a ground game. Newhouse, aided by his state’s two-major primary system, defeated a Trump-backed primary challenger in 2022. We’ll find out on August 6 if Newhouse will be able to do it again.

Trump is courting rappers as campaign surrogates to win over more voters of color

By Nnamdi Egwuonwu

At Donald Trump’s Black voter outreach event at a Detroit church last weekend, a pastor and several prominent Black Republicans joined the former president on stage. So did another more unlikely figure: rapper Casada Sorrell, better known as Sada Baby.

Most Republican voters may not be familiar with Sada Baby, but chances are their children are. In 2020, he went viral with his single “Whole Lotta Choppas,” a pandemic mainstay on TikTok that was one of the first viral records on the app.

Years later, he sat inches away from Trump on stage and said, “He might be the first person to let me vote,” fueled in part by the simple fact that Trump’s team contacted him.

“For him to reach out to me showed me a kind of effort that no other candidate had ever shown,” Sorrell said, noting that Trump could have pursued a bigger name from Detroit, such as rapper Eminem (a notorious critic of his) . “I try to act like it doesn’t mean too much, but it does mean a lot.”

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And it is not a one-time action. As Trump works to woo young voters of color, one strategy his campaign has adopted is turning rap stars into surrogates, pursuing not only nationally known names but also smaller acts that are prominent in their local communities.

The campaign hopes the outreach will create a consent structure for undecided voters in communities with little history of supporting Republicans to at least consider Trump’s message. And Trump is embracing rappers — and they are embracing him — because polls show this election may bring a generational divide among black voters, with younger members of the community showing much more openness to the former president.

Icewear Vezzo, another Detroit rapper who was at Trump’s event in Michigan, encouraged his fans to consider Trump after receiving backlash for posing with him after the roundtable.

“Why can’t we respectfully disagree more,” Vezzo said in a message to his 1 million Instagram followers. “You know what created great companies and great civilizations? They all went and found a team of people who think differently than them.”

Read more →

That’s all from The Politics Desk for now. If you have any feedback – like it or not – please email us at politicsnieuwsbrief@nbcuni.com

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This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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