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Election Victories by Trump Allies Showcase His Grip on the G.O.P. Base


PHOENIX — Primary victories in Arizona and Michigan for allies of Donald J. Trump on Tuesday reaffirmed his continued influence over the Republican Party, as the previous president has sought to cleanse the party of his critics, install loyalists in key swing-state offices and scare off potential 2024 rivals with a show of brute political force.

In Arizona, Mr. Trump’s selection for Senate, Blake Masters, won a crowded primary as did his pick for secretary of state, Mark Finchem, an election denier who has publicly acknowledged his affiliation with the far-right Oath Keepers militia group. By Wednesday morning, Mr. Trump’s pick within the governor’s race, Kari Lake, had taken a narrow lead over Karrin Taylor Robson, the candidate backed by Mike Pence, his former vp.

And in a very symbolic victory for Mr. Trump, Rusty Bowers, the Republican speaker of the Arizona House who gained national attention after testifying against Mr. Trump on the Jan. 6 congressional hearings, lost his bid for State Senate.

In Michigan, a House Republican who voted to question Mr. Trump, Representative Peter Meijer, was defeated by a former Trump administration official, John Gibbs, and Mr. Trump’s last-minute selection for governor, the conservative commentator Tudor Dixon, who has echoed his false claims of election fraud, easily won her primary.

The previous president and his allies have been particularly focused on the vote-counting and certification process in each Arizona and Michigan, in search of to oust those that stood in the way in which of their attempts to overturn the 2020 election. The victory of Mr. Finchem, who marched on the Capitol on Jan. 6, was a key sign of how the “Stop the Steal” movement that was formed on a falsehood about 2020 has morphed right into a widespread campaign to attempt to take control of the levers of democracy ahead of the approaching elections.

Tuesday’s primaries in five states — Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, Kansas and Washington State — kicked off a final six-week stretch of races that may provide the fullest picture of the Republican Party’s priorities in 2022, how tight Mr. Trump’s hold stays on the bottom and the extent to which his falsehoods a couple of stolen election in 2020 have infected the electorate.

In Washington State, Mr. Trump had backed challengers to 2 Republican House members who voted for his impeachment. But each of those incumbents seemed to be in strong positions to advance over Mr. Trump’s preferred candidates — benefiting from the state’s top-two primary system, though neither race had been called early Wednesday.

Many Republican strategists are desperate to move beyond the primaries and this era of infighting to focus fully on defeating the Democrats this fall and to make the most of President Biden’s slipping support and growing voter frustrations about inflation and the state of the economy.

In a relief for national party strategists, Missouri Republicans rejected the political comeback attempt of Eric Greitens, the scandal-plagued former governor who ran for Senate. Party leaders had fearful that Mr. Greitens would have jeopardized an otherwise secure Senate seat for Republicans. Mr. Trump had stayed out of that race until a bizarre last-minute dual endorsement on Monday of “Eric” — with no last name — a blessing that covered each Mr. Greitens, who finished in a distant third place, and Eric Schmitt, the state attorney general, who won the Senate nomination.

In Kansas, voters offered a warning sign to bullish Republicans, as a ballot measure on abortion showed the electoral potency and shifting politics of the difficulty within the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. Voters there strongly rejected the trouble to amend the State Structure to remove the protected right to abortion.

Several of the marquee Republican contests on Tuesday were in Arizona, a top presidential battleground with an open governor’s race, a contested Senate seat and multiple competitive House races in 2022.

In the competition for governor, Mr. Trump endorsed Ms. Lake, a telegenic former newscaster who had change into an unabashed champion of Trumpism. Mr. Trump is in search of some redemption after struggling earlier this 12 months in other governor’s races, most notably failing in his try to oust the Republican governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp.

While the Trump wing of the Republican Party flexed its muscle, voters in deep-red Kansas delivered a loud warning to the G.O.P. on abortion rights.

Unlike Mr. Kemp, the Republican governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, who earned Mr. Trump’s ire by supporting the outcomes of the 2020 election, was term-limited and never on the ballot himself. Mr. Ducey put his support behind Ms. Robson, a wealthy real estate developer who spent greater than $18 million on her run.

Ms. Lake, who has made voter fraud a centerpiece of her candidacy, declared victory at a moment when she was actually behind within the vote counting. “We won this race,” Ms. Lake said at her election-night party. “Period.” She later took a narrow lead, but that contest remained too near call on Wednesday.

Within the Senate race, Mr. Masters, a 35-year-old political newcomer, won the Republican nomination to face Senator Mark Kelly, a Democrat, who’s in search of a full six-year term after ousting a Republican in 2020. The race is anticipated to be amongst essentially the most contested of the autumn midterms.

The first victory represents the second major win for Peter Thiel, a enterprise capitalist and major Republican donor who co-wrote a book with Mr. Masters. Mr. Thiel put $15 million of his own money into an excellent PAC backing Mr. Masters and one other $15 million right into a separate super PAC supporting J.D. Vance, who won his Senate primary in Ohio this spring.

Mr. Masters defeated Jim Lamon, a businessman who pumped $14 million of his personal fortune into his campaign, and Mark Brnovich, the Arizona attorney general who Mr. Trump had attacked repeatedly for not investigating his baseless theories of voter fraud.

Holly Law, a 53-year-old who lives in Phoenix, said the determining think about her votes for Ms. Lake and Mr. Masters was the previous president’s blessing.

“The Trump endorsement — that’s it,” she said on Monday at a pre-election rally. Ms. Law insisted, despite the dearth of evidence of fraud, that the 2020 election was stolen from Mr. Trump and said she had stopped watching Fox News entirely since it was the network that first called her state for Mr. Biden.

“Newsmax — 100%,” she said of her current viewing habits, referring to the conservative news network.

In Michigan, Mr. Trump had delivered a late endorsement to Ms. Dixon, who easily won the Republican nomination for governor after two top rivals were tossed from the ballot for turning in fraudulent petitions. Amongst those on the ballot and amongst those defeated on Tuesday was Ryan Kelley, who led in an early poll after he was arrested in June by the F.B.I. and charged with trespassing and other crimes connected to the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6. Mr. Kelley was in fourth place early Wednesday.

The Democratic primaries on Tuesday for statewide offices were less drama-filled. In Arizona, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs won the Democratic nomination for governor, and in Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer formally became her party’s nominee for a second term.

Michigan did have some intense Democratic House primaries, including an expensive one within the Detroit suburbs where Representatives Andy Levin and Haley Stevens were drawn into the identical district. Ms. Stevens won with the heavy financial support of the brand new super PAC arm of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, amongst others.

But the very best profile House race in Michigan was Mr. Meijer’s re-election bid. His primary rival received a surprise late boost from the political arm of House Democrats, which spent lots of of hundreds of dollars on television ads because Mr. Gibbs was seen as easier to defeat this fall in a swing seat.

“I’m proud to have remained true to my principles, even when doing so got here at a major political cost,” Mr. Meijer said in an announcement conceding defeat.

Mr. Trump personally called Mr. Gibbs to congratulate him.

“Yes, sir, your endorsements have a extremely, really good record,” Mr. Gibbs told him.

“I’m very happy with you. That’s an excellent job,” Mr. Trump said.

The meddling by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for a pro-Trump candidate has earned backlash from fellow Democrats, who saw such involvement as undermining the party’s overall message that election deniers are a threat to democracy.

“I’m disgusted that hard-earned money intended to support Democrats is getting used to spice up Trump-endorsed candidates,” Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota said last month, calling Mr. Meijer “one of the crucial honorable Republicans in Congress.”

For the opposite two Trump impeachers, Washington State’s top-two primary system was poised to assist them survive, drawing a bigger crowd of candidates and splitting the vote amongst their Republican rivals.

Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler was ahead of her Trump-backed challenger Joe Kent, a retired Green Beret, with greater than half the vote counted. Mr. Kent, whose wife was killed by a suicide bomber in 2019 in Syria, first met Mr. Trump at Dover Air Force Base when he went to view his late wife’s stays.

Representative Dan Newhouse, one other Republican who voted to question Mr. Trump, counted amongst his challengers Loren Culp, a Trump-supported candidate who ran for governor in 2020 and refused to concede that race despite losing by a large margin. Mr. Culp was not among the many top two candidates with roughly half the votes counted.

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