Washington (Times Of Ocean)- Former US President Donald Trump has endorsed more than 130 candidates so far in 2022, casting a wide net – and testing his influence at the top of the Republican Party.
Trump’s Texas 2022 campaign got off to a strong start with all 33 of his endorsed candidates winning their primaries or going into runoff races in strong positions. A source familiar with Trump’s thinking said he is more cautious about throwing his weight behind contenders in some key upcoming primaries due to the poor performance and stumble of some of his chosen candidates, and bad advice he received about them.
While Trump is no longer in office, some of the performances have raised questions about the potency of his endorsements and the impact he will have on Republican primary voters. He failed to clear the field for his preferred candidate in places like Georgia, North Carolina, and Alabama.
However, his selectiveness elsewhere has made his endorsement all the more coveted. Several candidates are jockeying for former President Trump’s blessing in Ohio’s crowded Republican primary for an open Senate seat on May 3rd by positioning themselves as being substantially more “pro-Trump” or “America first” than their competitors and requesting facetime with him.
Since leaving the White House, candidates and political groups have visited Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida and Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey, a sign of Trump’s power. According to FEC records, at least $750,000 was spent at the two properties in 2021 by campaigns for federal office and political committees.
Jane Timken, the former Ohio GOP state chair, will visit Mar-a-Lago next week, according to a source familiar with the matter. The rivials, Josh Mandel, JD Vance, and Mike Gibbons are also seeking endorsements. As early voting begins there next week, candidates are waiting for Trump’s decision.
In Ohio, the first of several races that month that will put the former president’s influence to the test. For certifying Georgia’s election results, Trump backed former senator David Perdue in his challenge to incumbent Brian Kemp, who he regards as his number one enemy. Representative Ted Budd is running for an open Senate seat in North Carolina, and Trump endorsed him. However, Budd is locked in a tight primary race with former governor Pat McCrory.
In Pennsylvania and Alabama, the former president could still endorse candidates for senate and gubernatorial primaries that month. In those states, he is searching for new favorites after his initial choices did not work out.
In the Alabama Senate race, he pulled his endorsement from Rep. Mo Brooks, who has been trailing two other Republicans. Sean Parnell, who was endorsed by Trump, dropped out of the race after losing a custody battle with his estranged wife.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan, Carol Miller, Mike Johnson, Brian Mast, Kat Cammack have been also endoresed by Donald Trump.
Trump has taken to the road to rally support for his chosen candidates as the primaries draw closer. Over the weekend, he went to Georgia to campaign for Perdue and a number of other candidates he is backing. He’s expected to be in Michigan this weekend to rally for the candidates he’s chosen for attorney general and secretary of state. Afterward, he will travel to North Carolina to support Budd.
A Trump endorsement gives candidates a significant bump in the polls, say campaign operatives.
Saving America’s goal is to ensure all voters are engaged and educated ahead of these important elections, says Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich. As of the end of February, Save America held $110 million in cash.
Sources familiar with Trump’s decision-making process say he considers both the polling and fundraising of candidates and keeps a close eye on debates and considers how well candidates may implement his vision for the GOP.
A former president’s endorsement will only take you so far. Former Trump campaign official: “It will take a long time, but you’ve got to raise money, you need a ground game, and you have to fight for what Trump is fighting for.”
“It’s not a problem of Trump’s endorsement losing its power; it’s the issue of campaigns not capitalizing on the endorsement,” said another Trumpworld operative.
According to strategists, Trump underestimated the importance of Kemp’s incumbency, and that primary voters there may be more oriented toward the present than the past.
“What you’ve seen over the last year is Joe Biden reminding Republican voters why they don’t like him and his policies, and hitting them in their pocket book,” said one Georgia GOP consultant aligned with Kemp. “That benefits us. It’s no longer, ‘I’m pissed about the last election,’ it’s ‘I’m pissed about what’s happening right now.'”
Donald Trump’s endorsement of Perdue has an impact on the margins, but “they didn’t unveil anything new to change the conversation,” said the consultant.
Some Republican operatives believe that Trump’s endorsement hasn’t been making a huge impact in races because he is still the most powerful force in Republican politics, but he is losing some of his influence.
“Anyone who gets the endorsement should be happy,” said one GOP operative working on multiple campaigns, who asked to speak anonymously to speak candidly. “If you get the endorsement of a guy who the grassroots really like, that is without a doubt a good day for you, but that doesn’t mean that you’re the next governor, senator or congressman.”
That operative told CBS News that candidates do not have to shut down their campaign if they don’t earn Trump’s endorsement.
“You’ve got to say, ‘let’s keep going’ because there is now a blueprint out there,” the operative said, citing McCrory’s standing as an example of how to stay competitive in a race where Trump has backed someone else. “It’s not game over.”
Trump is sometimes testing out the support of a candidate without formally endorsing them. In Missouri’s open Senate race, the former president asked last week if voters there had considered Rep. Billy Long. “Do they appreciate what they have in him, a warrior and the first major political leader to say, ‘You better get on the Trump Train, it’s leaving the station.'” Trump stated: “This is not an Endorsement, but I’m just askin’.”
Former Trump supporters and administration officials have also lined up for the race. Timken hired Corey Lewandowsky, who was removed from his position at a Trump super PAC for allegedly making unwanted sexual advances toward a donor, and David Bossie, a former Trump campaign aide. Kellyanne Conway, who used to work for the Obama White House, is also helping Timken and Long in their Senate primary campaigns, as well as state senator Jake Corman in his gubernatorial campaign.
Peter Thiel, a billionaire who donated large sums of money to the Trump campaign in 2020, has endorsed Vance in Ohio and Blake Masters in Arizona. Tony Fabrizio is a pollster for Trump’s super PACs that supports Vance and Masters. Attorney General Mark Brnovich is being helped by a firm started by former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien and his lawyer Justin Clark.
Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and former White House communications director Hope Hicks campaigned with McCormick, who is married to Trump’s former deputy national security adviser Dina Powell. Sean Hannity, who advised Trump, supports Mehmet Oz.
Trump hasn’t commented on Arizona’s highly competitive Senate race, in addition to Ohio and Pennsylvania. Neither Missouri nor Arizona hold their elections until August, giving the former president time to consider his options. However, the other races are just a few weeks away.
He will look for candidates who he believes have a chance of winning the primary and its general election. Yet he acknowledged Tuesday night in an interview with Real America’s Voice that he might support some candidates who lose.
“If I lose one along the way, which you have to, right? They’re going to say this was a humiliating experience,” Trump said. “I could have 100 wins and one loss and they could make it sound like this is humiliating.”