Five takeaways from races in Nevada, South Carolina and Texas
Voters from different sides of the country headed to the polls on Tuesday evening, lending some new insight into what to expect going into the general election in November.
Former President Trump saw his endorsement put to the test in two key races in South Carolina, while Republicans saw victory in a South Texas congressional district that could bode well for their strategy in the region.
Meanwhile, progressives saw yet another defeat, this time in Nevada.
Here are five takeaways from the June 14 primaries.
Trump’s endorsement record takes another hit
Trump saw yet another high-profile defeat on Tuesday after incumbent Rep. Nancy Mace won her Republican primary against Trump-backed challenger Katie Arrington in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District.
The former president made Mace one of his top primary targets earlier this year when he endorsed Arrington in February. The primary divided much of the GOP. While Trump endorsed Arrington, Mace had the endorsements of two former Trump administration officials and ex-South Carolina politicians: former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who served as South Carolina governor from 2011 to 2017, and former White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who represented the state’s 5th Congressional District from 2011 to 2017.
While Mace did not vote to impeach the former president after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, she did not object to certifying the 2020 election results and later voted to refer to the Justice Department a criminal contempt case against Trump ally Stephen Bannon brought by the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot.
Despite not having the former president’s support, Mace tried to tie herself to him while acknowledging her differences with him over Jan. 6. Arrington, on the other hand, made the former president’s endorsement a centerpiece of her campaign.
But his political influence was on display elsewhere
While Trump’s candidate may have lost in South Carolina’s 1st District, the former president did get political revenge on Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.), who voted to impeach him last year.
Trump-endorsed challenger Russell Fry defeated the incumbent congressman on Tuesday. Rice’s district was seen as largely more favorable to a Trump-backed candidate than Mace’s.
Meanwhile, Trump’s pick for Senate in Nevada, Adam Laxalt, also won his primary. Laxalt had big GOP names behind him during the primary in addition to the former president, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). Laxalt served as the co-chair of Trump’s reelection campaign in Nevada in 2020. Democrats have seized on his vocal support for Trump’s unproven claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.
Another Trump-endorsed candidate, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, appeared poised to defeat a crowded field of GOP candidates in the gubernatorial primary. Lombardo will take on incumbent Gov. Steve Sisolak in November.
All in all, despite his one high-profile loss, Tuesday night proved that Trump still holds significant political sway in the party.
Alarm bells sound for Democrats in Texas
Republican Mayra Flores’s win in the special election for Texas’s 34th congressional district will likely raise alarm bells for Democrats in the Lone Star State. The GOP has increasingly focused on border districts and the southern part of the state after Trump performed well there during the 2020 presidential election.
Flores continued that trend on Tuesday, but also played particularly well with Hispanic voters. She carried Cameron County, which President Biden won by 13 points in 2020 and is nearly 90 percent Hispanic.
Democrats could sense the urgency in the district as the primary approached, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee helping their candidate Dan Sanchez’s campaign fund a $100,000 digital ad buy. Additionally, the House Majority PAC rolled out a $115,000 ad buy against Flores earlier this month.
House Republicans already have their sights set on the open seat in Texas’s 15th Congressional District and incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar’s (D-Texas) seat in the 28th District. The 15th, 28th and 34th districts are on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s target list.
Another disappointing night for progressives
Progressives saw yet more disappointment Tuesday, as Amy Vilela lost to incumbent Democratic Rep. Dina Titus (D) in Nevada’s 1st Congressional District.
Vilela previously served as Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) co-chair on his 2020 presidential campaign. Sanders endorsed her last week.
Her loss comes a week after progressives saw losses in San Francisco’s district attorney recall and in New Jersey’s 10th District, where Rep. Donald Payne Jr. survived a progressive primary challenge.
The last major victory for progressives took place last month, when Jamie McLeod-Skinner defeated incumbent Rep. Kurt Schrader in the Democratic primary for Oregon’s 5th District. Schrader had been endorsed by Biden.
A ‘blue wave’ Dem gets one step closer in longshot bid
Back in South Carolina, former Rep. Joe Cunningham (D), who was ousted by Mace in 2020, took one step closer to his longshot gubernatorial bid.
Cunningham defeated state Sen. Mia McLeod in the Democratic gubernatorial primary on Tuesday, teeing up a fight against incumbent Gov. Henry McMaster (R) in November. The former congressman will face an uphill climb against the governor, given the national mood, McMaster’s popularity and the state’s rightward tilt. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the race as “solid Republican.”
The victory marks a comeback of sorts for Cunningham. He was part of the Democratic “blue wave” in 2018, defeating Arrington in the general election for the 1st Congressional District before losing to Mace in 2020.