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Trump’s power will be tested during Tuesday’s primaries

The strength of former President Donald Trump’s support will be tested Tuesday, with his favored candidates facing hotly contested Republican primaries across the country.

Trump has swept into the Senate primaries, the House of Representatives and the governorships of Maine, Nevada, North Dakota and South Carolina as he looks to further demonstrate his influence among the Republican base and shape the party’s future. Tuesday’s primaries also come less than two weeks after Trump was convicted of 34 crimes in the New York hush-money case.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has notably tried to support two Republican members of Congress from South Carolina who are facing conservative challengers.

He supports Rep. Nancy Mace, who has previously been critical of Trump as she faces a well-funded primary opponent in attorney Catherine Templeton. After initially calling on the Republican Party to step away from Trump following the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot, Mace won over her main 2022 challenger, Katie Arrington, who had Trump’s support.

Mace fervently supported Trump during the 2024 presidential election and won his endorsement for re-election. Although Trump’s support is coveted in Republican Party primaries, he lost Mace’s 1st Congressional District in the Charleston area to Nikki Haley in February while winning the state’s overall primary.

Mace drew the ire of some Republicans after he voted last year to oust Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House of Representatives. Templeton has support from McCarthy, including donations from his leadership PAC, and she said she asked the former California congresswoman to help her raise campaign money.

Outside groups linked to McCarthy allies have also taken to the airwaves to attack Mace, while the conservative Club for Growth Action has launched ads to boost Mace, according to the ad tracking company AdImpact. Winning for Women Action Fund, a group that backs female GOP candidates and endorsed Mace in 2022, is now backing Templeton. Longtime Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., also endorsed Templeton over his House colleague last week.

These primaries may not end on Tuesday. Mace, Templeton and Navy veteran Bill Young are on the ballot, meaning the race could be pushed to a June 25 runoff if no candidate wins a majority of primary votes.

Trump has endorsed another incumbent facing a significant challenge: South Carolina Rep. William Timmons in the 4th District, which includes heavily evangelical parts of the state in Greenville and Spartanburg.

Timmons faces state Rep. Adam Morgan, chairman of the Freedom Caucus in the South Carolina statehouse and has drawn support from far-right members of Congress such as Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Bob Good of Virginia.

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Timmons has touted Trump’s support in the race, launching an ad featuring the former president speaking directly to the camera to boost the three-term congressman. Timmons, who narrowly avoided a primary runoff in 2022, has had some on-air help in this race from Defend American Jobs, a group with ties to the cryptocurrency industry, and an outside group called America Leads Inc.

Timmons’ opponent in the 2022 primary, Pastor Mark Burns, won nearly a quarter of the vote. But Burns is now running, with Trump’s endorsement, in South Carolina’s open 3rd District race to replace retiring Republican Rep. Jeff Duncan. Trump also appeared in a TV ad for Burns, reportedly filmed on the evening of April 19 at Trump Tower in New York City, the same day Trump was in court for his hush money trial.

Given the crowded primary field, the 3rd District race is expected to end in a runoff.

Burns, nurse Sheri Biggs and state Rep. Stewart Jones are considered the top candidates. The race also features Kevin Bishop, a former aide to South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Trump makes a last-minute choice in Nevada

Trump’s approval is also at stake in Nevada’s Republican Senate primaries, where the winner will face Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen in one of the nation’s top Senate races.

The top candidates in the crowded field are military veteran Sam Brown, who received Trump’s endorsement this weekend, and Jeffrey Gunter, who served as Trump’s ambassador to Iceland at the end of his administration.

Brown lost the state’s 2022 Senate primary in an effort to move to the right of former Attorney General Adam Laxalt, but has emerged in this race as the party’s preferred choice to take on Rosen . He has tried to soften his stance on abortion as his wife has decided to open up about how having an abortion has affected her life.

Gunter has played up his service in the Trump administration and tried to portray Brown as insufficiently conservative. Gunter calls himself “110% pro-Trump,” a message that could be diluted by Trump’s late decision to put his thumb on the scale for his opponent.

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Gunter has also launched brutal attacks on the airwaves, including one that Brown calls “the latest creature to emerge from the swamp.” That ad highlights the scars on Brown’s face after suffering severe burns in a life-threatening explosion while serving in Afghanistan.

Brown has been by far the biggest fundraiser in the race. He’s helped Gunter raise $7.1 million to $3.3 million, while spending $4.6 million to $3 million as of May 22. But Gunter outspent him on air by a 3-to-1 margin.

Approval may be tempered by the fact that Trump waited until the weekend before the primaries to announce his choice in a state that largely votes by mail. Moreover, Brown was already seen as the favorite.

Further down the ballot, Trump has endorsed former North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee in the competitive 4th District to face Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford. Democratic Reps. Susie Lee in the 3rd District and Dina Titus in the 1st District will also face their Republican opponents on Tuesday, but Trump has not endorsed in either of those contests.

Trump and a VP contender are taking opposite sides

In North Dakota, Republican primaries are essentially electing a new governor after GOP Gov. Doug Burgum decided not to seek re-election. The state has not elected a Democratic governor since the 1988 elections, and Trump won it in 2020 by more than 40 percentage points.

The Republican Party primary was contentious between the state’s lone member of Congress, Rep. Kelly Armstrong, and Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller. Armstrong has the support of Trump and both of the state’s U.S. senators, while Burgum, who sees Trump as his running mate, is backing Miller.

While Burgum recently downplayed the idea of ​​him and Trump facing off, the race has become volatile.

In a recent ad, Miller made a not-so-veiled attempt to criticize her main opponent, criticizing “selfish politicians” and saying, “Nobody gave me a ladder to get there.” Climbing the ladder is what politicians do, and they will step on anyone to get to the top.”

Meanwhile, Armstrong’s campaign ran an ad warning that Miller has “way too many red flags,” criticizing her for a handful of small past donations to Democrats.

Senator Merrill Piepkorn is the only Democrat running for governor and will face the winner of the Republican Party’s primary.

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Armstrong’s bid leaves his seat in the at-large House open, giving North Dakotans another statewide primary to be decided by Tuesday’s ballot. The top candidates are State Commissioner Julie Fedorchak, who is backed by Trump, Burgum and GOP Sen. John Hoeven; former state Rep. Rick Becker, a former plastic surgeon backed by conservative figures like Ron and Rand Paul, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Bob Good and the Club for Growth; and Alex Balazs, a veteran who has the backing of the state party.

Most of the oxygen has been absorbed by Becker and Fedorchak, the top fundraising candidates in the race and those whose allies have dominated the airwaves.

The Club for Growth spent more than $700,000 on the airwaves during the race, largely destroying Fedorchak. But the group canceled its ad buys after Trump’s endorsement, and Fedorchak’s allies have largely matched the club’s spending while launching attacks on Becker.

Meanwhile, in Maine, Trump has endorsed the competitive 2nd District in the Republican primary, where Rep. Jared Golden is one of five Democrats running for re-election in a district Trump carried in 2020. The former president endorsed state Rep. Austin. Theriault, a former NASCAR driver.

The GOP is poised to strengthen its majority in the House of Representatives in Ohio’s special election

Voters in Ohio will send a new member to Congress in a special election for the seat vacated by former Republican Rep. Bill Johnson earlier this year.

Republican Sen. Michael Rulli is the favorite to serve out the remainder of the term in Ohio’s 6th District, which Johnson won by 35 points in 2022 and Trump by nearly 30 points in 2020, according to data compiled by Daily Kos Elections. His Senate district is in the Youngstown area, which is part of the congressional district, and his family owns grocery stores in the area.

Democrats have nominated Michael Kripchak, an Army veteran and retired police officer. But Rulli was the overwhelming fundraising leader in the deep-red district. A Republican victory would help expand Republicans’ slim majority in the House of Representatives.

During special elections in these types of districts, turnout is usually low. But all eyes may be on this area again in the fall, even if the congressional district is not expected to change hands. That’s because the Youngstown area will be crucial to Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio in his bid to win re-election within a year. Trump is expected to keep the state at the top of the list.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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