Bitter Republican U.S. Senate races in West Virginia and Indiana featuring candidates who have fought to prove their loyalty to President Donald Trump will highlight a slate of high-stakes party primaries in four states on Tuesday.
Simultaneously voters in Ohio and North Carolina also pick candidates on Tuesday for November’s congressional elections. When Democrats must pick up two seats in the Senate. 23 more in the House of Representative to recapture control of Congress and blunt Trump’s agenda.
All four of the states holding primaries were won by Trump in 2016. and Republicans have made Democratic incumbents Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana states that Trump won by double-digit margins two of their top U.S. Senate targets in November.
But Republican Senate prospects in either state could hurt by bruising party primaries. That has seen the top contenders battle to show who is closest to Trump or less. Like a conventional Washington politician.
Trump waded into the West Virginia race on Monday to urge Republicans to reject former coal executive Don Blankenship. Who released from prison last year? After serving time for safety violations in a 2010 disaster that killed 29 miners?
“Remember Alabama,” Trump warned voters. When recalling the Democratic victory in a special Senate election last year in the deeply conservative state. After Republicans nominated Roy Moore, accused of sexual harassment and assault of teenage girls in his 30s.
Blankenship has attacked Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, accusing him of undermining Trump, creating jobs for “China people” and running TV ads highlighting the Taiwanese heritage of McConnell’s wife, drawing widespread condemnation.
Under those circumstances “I will say, all the media attention isn’t hurting him at all,” Patrick Hickey, a political scientist at West Virginia University, said of Blankenship. “There is a real sense here that career politicians are only out for themselves.”
However, in Indiana, the top three Republican contenders to challenge Donnelly have also sharply criticized one another while praising Trump. U.S. Representatives Luke Messer and Todd Rokita, longtime rivals, and self-funding businessman Mike Braun, have traded personal insults.
“There is absolutely no daylight between them on any issues,” to quote Marjorie Hershey, professor of political science at Indiana University. “The race has been almost entirely personal attacks.”
But Braun, a former state legislator who has spent more than $5 million of his own money on the race, has made headway portraying the two members of Congress as indistinguishable “swamp creatures” who are products of Washington.