South Carolina voters delivered the revenge Donald Trump had sought when they elected Rep. Tom Rice, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach the former president, was ousted on a primary Tuesday.
But in a district south of Rice, another former Trump critic, Rep. Nancy Mace, narrowly facing a new challenge from a Trump-backed rival. The races immediately showed how difficult it is to survive in a GOP still dominated by Trump without accepting his grievances.
Meanwhile, Republicans in Nevada chose a vocal supporter of Trump’s lies about voter fraud as their nominee to become the state’s top election official.
And in the Rio Grande Valley, Republicans’ gains among Latino voters were seen in a special House election that could offer a glimpse of what will happen in several key states in November’s midterm elections.
Here are five takeaways from Tuesday’s races:
The former president set a new political score in South Carolina when Trump-backed state representative Russell Fry handily rep. Tom Rice defeated Pee Dee in a Republican primary.
Rice is the latest Republican to be expelled from the party after splitting with former President Donald Trump in the wake of the US Capitol uprising on January 6, 2021. Rice was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump . He later became one of 35 Republicans who voted to create an independent commission to investigate the storming of the Capitol, which was eventually blocked by Senate Republicans.
Fry’s ouster of Rice underscores the political danger facing many Republicans who have crossed Trump. Rice, a conservative Republican first elected in 2012, has faced death threats, disapproval from his state party and attacks from Trump himself.
When approving Fry in February, Trump said in a statement that Rice was “the coward who let his voters down by giving in to Nancy Pelosi and the radical left” and “should be removed from office.” Rice shot back that Trump was a “so-called tyrant” who is “consumed by resentment”.
While Rice got into trouble, another House Republican, Rep. Nancy Mace narrowly faced a Trump-fueled primary challenge by former state representative Katie Arrington in her Lowcountry district.
A key difference between the South Carolina Republican who lost a House primary on Tuesday and the one who survived: Rice voted to impeach Trump; Mace not.
Still, she had strongly criticized Trump in the wake of the January 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol uprising. “His entire legacy was wiped out yesterday,” she said of Trump in an appearance on CNN the next day.
Since then, Mace has tacked to the right. The month after the uprising, she picked a Twitter fight with New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, mischaracterizing the New York Democrat’s comments about the threat from rioters.
Trump backed Arrington. But Mace also had high-profile coverage in South Carolina, with former Governor Nikki Haley, Trump’s US ambassador to the United Nations, supporting her and appearing in advertisements.
Mace, who wins Tuesday’s primary, joins a small group of Republicans who survived Trump’s revenge attempts. Georgian government leader Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger both defeated the Trump-backed incumbent parties in last month’s primaries.
Jim Marchant, a former state legislator and leading proponent of Trump’s lies about widespread voter fraud, won the Republican primary on Tuesday for the Nevada secretary of state’s office — adding the Silver State to the growing list of those who vote deniers are positioning themselves to take over. the election machine ahead of the 2024 presidential race.
Marchant wants to replace Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican who has repeatedly said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election but who is barred from reelection by term limits.
Nevada is a presidential battlefield state. President Joe Biden beat Trump there by just 2.4 percentage points in 2020, and the state is poised to play a pivotal role again in 2024, when Republicans will try to turn their gains of years past among Latino voters into victories. .
Nevada is also a potentially crucial state in the November midterm elections. Republicans nominated two Trump-approved candidates for two major races: Former state attorney general Adam Laxalt, whose grandfather Paul Laxalt was a former governor, senator and a towering figure in Nevada politics, won the GOP’s primary against Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto.
And Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo came out of the Republican contest to challenge Democratic administration Steve Sisolak, who is seeking his second term.
Democrat Dan Sanchez’s concession to Republican Mayra Flores in a special election for what had long been a Democratic House seat in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley offered another glimpse of the GOP’s gains among Latino voters and the enthusiasm gap faced by Democrats as the midterm elections approach.
As of early Wednesday morning, Flores held back three other candidates in the low-turnout contest, including Democrat Dan Sanchez, and took 50% of the vote, which could have prevented her from running for a runoff.
The seat became vacant when former Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela stepped down in March to become a lobbyist. Vela’s decision to release early bail appears to have been costly for his party in the short term, as it would further shrink Democrats’ majority in Congress.
But it could also damage the position of Democrats in South Texas in the longer term: Flores is already poised to take on the Democratic Rep. in the redrawn 34th district in November. Vicente Gonzalez, who currently represents a neighboring district. The newly elected district is more favorable to Democrats than the district Flores did for Tuesday’s special election, but she would have the advantage of an established position.
For Republicans, Flores’ victory would be another sign that the party is getting through to Latino voters in the Rio Grande Valley. If the GOP can replicate that trend, even in part, in other states — most notably Arizona and Nevada, two presidential battlefield states with Democratic senators set to be re-elected this fall, and regions like Orange County, California, home to a host of competitive Households. races – it would fundamentally shift the political map of the country.
Bombastic former Republican Governor of Maine, Paul LePage, is now poised to take on Democratic Governor Janet Mills after Tuesday’s two snap primaries that were mere formalities, as neither faced an opponent.
Republican former Rep. Bruce Poliquin, meanwhile, survived a match with a conservative activist and will now try to win back his former congressional district in a rematch of a hard-fought 2018 race against Democratic Rep. Jared Golden.
Maine uses a ranked-choice voting system. In 2018, Poliquin even got more first-place votes than Golden. But after the ranked choice system eliminated outside candidates, Golden prevailed. But Trump won the district in 2020, giving Republicans hope they can win the New England seat again in November.
Meanwhile, Republicans in North Dakota nominated Senator John Hoeven for a third term, widely expected to win in November.