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Tracking Trump’s endorsement record in the 2022 primary elections

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Former President Trump is not appearing on any ballots, but he is seeking to make a strong imprint on this year’s midterm elections. Trump has made over 200 endorsements, weighing in on a range of races from marquee congressional battles to little-noticed statehouse posts. He wields his seal of approval to reward allies, punish enemies, perpetuate his false 2020 election fraud claims and increase his sway over the Republican Party.

The success of his chosen candidates can offer clues into how much of a political force Trump remains as he looks ahead to a likely White House run in 2024. Here is an ongoing look at some key tests of Trump’s endorsement power.

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Primary calendar

Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington held primaries Tuesday. In Arizona, where Trump lost by roughly 10,000 votes in 2020, the former president backed statewide candidates who perpetuate his election fraud myth, including former news anchor Kari Lake for governor, Blake Masters for U.S. Senate and, for secretary of state, Mark Finchem, who was involved in the “Stop the Steal” movement. In Washington state, Trump backed challengers to two Republicans who voted for his impeachment: Loren Culp, who ran against Rep. Dan Newhouse, and Joe Kent, who is vying against Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler. In Michigan, Trump weighed in at the eleventh hour to back Tudor Dixon, a former conservative commentator, who won a messy Republican primary. And on the eve of Missouri’s hotly contested Senate GOP primary, Trump in a social media post finally made his preference for “ERIC” known. One catch: There were two candidates named Eric in the race — Atty. Gen. Eric Schmitt and former Gov. Eric Greitens. Both immediately claimed the coveted endorsement was meant for them, but Schmitt won the race.

Key:
✈️ — Trump has appeared with the candidate
😡 — Revenge endorsement; running against a Trump foe
📸 — Celebrity candidate
Candidate advances
❌ — Candidate loses

Senate House Governor Secretary of State

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Senate

JD Vance, the venture capitalist and author of "Hillbilly Elegy,"

Ohio — May 3 primary

J.D. Vance

Wins primary

J.D. Vance, whose memoir, “Hillbilly Elegy,” was made into a movie, used to criticize Trump. He now says he was wrong and has modeled himself on Trump’s economic populism, anti-interventionist foreign policy and provocative Twitter presence. Vance’s candidacy was a major test of the power of Trump’s endorsements. The venture capitalist backed by tech billionaire Peter Thiel had lagged behind former state Treasurer Josh Mandel and businessman Mike Gibbons in the primary. But after gaining Trump’s endorsement, Vance surged in polls.

  • 📸 ✈️

FILE - This Dec. 4, 2019 file photo shows Dr. Mehmet Oz at the 14th annual L'Oreal Paris Women of Worth Gala in New York. Oz, joins the Republican field of possible candidates aiming to capture Pennsylvania's open U.S. Senate seat in next year's election. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Pennsylvania — May 17 primary

Mehmet Oz

Wins primary

Trump went for the celebrity in this race, backing the heart surgeon-turned-television host first brought to fame by Oprah Winfrey. Trump’s original choice, former Army Ranger Sean Parnell, withdrew from the race after facing domestic abuse allegations. Many people in the former president’s orbit, including former aide Hope Hicks, coalesced around former hedge fund Chief Executive David McCormick, whose wife, Dina Powell, had worked in the Trump White House. Oz had long faced criticism over the veracity of some medical claims on his TV show, which aired its last episode this year.

  • 📸 ✈️

Official photo of US Rep Ted Budd, R-NC

North Carolina — May 17 primary

Ted Budd

Wins primary

Speculation ran high that Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara — Eric Trump’s wife — would seek the open seat to replace retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr. Instead, she passed on a run and Trump made an early pick with Rep. Ted Budd. After a slow start, Budd emerged in the polls ahead of former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, whom Budd’s allies have blasted for his past criticism of Trump, and another contender, Baptist pastor and former Rep. Mark Walker.

  • ✈️

Mo Brooks, Official Portrait, 112th Congress

Alabama — May 24 primary

Mo Brooks

Endorsement withdrawn

Loses primary

Rep. Mo Brooks went from being one of Trump’s strongest allies in contesting the 2020 election results to earning an unorthodox unendorsement in March. The former president attributed his about-face to Brooks calling on supporters to move past 2020 and focus on upcoming elections. Trump accused Brooks of going “woke” and deciding “to drop everything he stood for.” Nevertheless, Brooks finished in second place, forcing top vote-getter Katie Britt, a former chief of staff to retiring GOP Sen. Richard Shelby, into a runoff. Trump endorsed Britt just over a week before the runoff, which she won.

  • ✈️

CHARLOTTE, NC

Georgia — May 24 primary

Herschel Walker

Wins primary

A University of Georgia football legend and former contestant on “Celebrity Apprentice,” Walker is a longtime friend of Trump, who urged him to get into the race. The former NFL player is the rare candidate to be backed by both Trump and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, who was won over by Walker’s fundraising prowess despite the candidate’s troubled business history and allegations of domestic violence. Though some Republicans have voiced concern about his viability against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, Walker easily clinched the GOP nomination.

  • 📸 ✈️

Alaska Department of Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka

Alaska — Aug. 16 primary

Kelly Tshibaka

Kelly Tshibaka is running against incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a frequent Trump target. The former president dubbed Murkowski the “Disaster from Alaska,” underscoring his antagonism toward the moderate Republican who voted to convict in his second impeachment trial following the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Tshibaka, former commissioner of the Alaska Department of Administration, has lagged behind Murkowksi in polls and fundraising. The senator has fended off more conservative challengers before — in 2010, she notched a rare win as a write-in candidate — and she is expected to benefit from the new ranked-choice voting rules in Alaska.

  • 😡 ✈️

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House of Representatives

Republican congressional candidate Max Miller

Ohio — May 3 primary

Max Miller

Wins primary

Max Miller, a former Trump White House aide, is running for a redrawn congressional district. He was originally set to challenge Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, who was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach the former president after the riot at the Capitol. Months after the Miller endorsement, Gonzalez announced he would not seek reelection; Trump responded in a statement: “Good riddance to Anthony, he can now get himself a job at ratings-dead CNN or MSDNC!” Miller has promoted Trump’s false claims of a stolen election and said the deadly Capitol riot was “not an insurrection.”

  • 😡 ✈️

Greg Pence, Republican candidate for Indiana's 6th Congressional District

Indiana — May 3 primary

Greg Pence

Wins primary

Rep. Greg Pence is, for the time being, the only member of the Pence family getting the thumbs-up from Trump. His brother, former Vice President Mike Pence, has had a more fractious relationship with his former running mate after he refused Trump’s entreaties to block the certification of President Biden’s win on Jan. 6, 2021. Rep. Greg Pence voted against a congressional committee to investigate that day’s events, which included his brother being hastily removed from the Capitol as some rioters called for him to be hanged. But the congressman also said Trump was wrong to believe the vice president could stop the certification and said he loves and stands by his brother.

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Official Portrait of Representative Madison Cawthorn

North Carolina — May 17 primary

Madison Cawthorn

Loses primary

In 2020, Trump supported Madison Cawthorn’s opponent in a primary runoff, but he soon came around to the brash GOP upstart. Cawthorn made a name for himself as a combative Trump acolyte, but he irked his fellow Republicans this spring when he alleged, without evidence, that members of Congress took part in drug-filled orgies. Since then, Cawthorn has faced controversies including twice being caught driving with a revoked license, bringing a gun to a TSA checkpoint and allegations of insider trading. Cawthorn was defeated by Chuck Edwards, a state legislator endorsed by North Carolina Sen. Thom Thillis.

  • ✈️

Ryan Zinke's official United States Secretary of Interior portrait

Montana — June 7 primary

Ryan Zinke

Wins primary

Zinke was an early Trump endorser in 2016 who then left his seat in Congress to join the former president’s administration as Interior secretary. Zinke’s tenure in the administration was riddled by scandal — including a plan to install new office doors at a cost of more than $130,000. He resigned in December 2018 amid multiple ethics investigations. Like many other Trump endorsees, Zinke made the pilgrimage to Trump’s Florida resort Mar-A-Lago to visit with the former president and raise money.

Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif.

California — June 7 primary

Ken Calvert

Wins primary
Calvert has represented the Inland Empire in Congress for nearly 30 years. The newly formed 42nd District — redrawn after the 2020 census — will include more Democratic-leaning Palm Springs and parts of the Coachella Valley, possibly creating a challenge for the Republican. He voted against both Trump impeachments and voted to object to some states’ 2020 election results.

Katie Arrington as the Chief information security officer for acquisition for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment.

South Carolina — June 14 primary

Katie Arrington

Loses Primary
Former state Rep. Katie Arrington got Trump’s endorsement over freshman Rep. Nancy Mace, who was just days into her term when she said the former president was to blame for the Jan. 6 riot. She did not vote for Trump’s impeachment, however, and tried to tout her support for the former president in a video taped outside Trump Tower in New York. This was the second time Trump endorsed Arrington in hopes of ousting one of his critics; in 2018, he backed her over Rep. Mark Sanford. Arrington won that primary but lost in November to a Democrat.

  • 😡 ✈️

Washington gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp

Washington — Aug. 2 primary

Loren Culp

Result pending

Formerly an unsuccessful candidate for governor, Loren Culp is challenging incumbent GOP Rep. Dan Newhouse, who voted for Trump’s impeachment after the Capitol riot. In his endorsement of Culp, Trump lambasted Newhouse as “absolutely terrible” and a RINO — Republican in name only. Culp, like Trump, has baselessly alleged fraud in the 2020 election. He also encouraged supporters to buy unproven treatments for COVID-19 and suggested on Twitter that a Black man charged with attacking a woman in an incident caught on video should be lynched or face a firing squad and that some judges and prosecutors should face the same fate.

  • 😡

Joe Kent at 'Justice for J6' Rally in Washington, D.C.. on 9/18/21

Washington — Aug. 2 primary

Joe Kent

Result pending

Joe Kent, a military veteran, met Trump at Dover Air Force Base in 2019 as he was retrieving the remains of his wife, a Navy linguist killed in action in Syria. During the 2020 presidential campaign, Kent vouched for the then-president’s respect for the troops following reports that Trump had disparaged fallen soldiers. Kent picked up an early endorsement in his bid to oust Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, one of the 10 GOP members of Congress who voted for Trump’s second impeachment. As a candidate, he came under scrutiny for his connection to Nick Fuentes, a prominent white nationalist. Kent said Fuentes briefly consulted with him on social media strategy, but the candidate disavowed Fuentes’ politics — a stance that brought blowback from the far right.

  • 😡

Morgan Ortagus Former Spokesperson for the United States Department of State

Tennessee — Aug. 4 primary

Morgan Ortagus

Removed from ballot

Trump said he “couldn’t be happier” that Morgan Ortagus, a former State Department spokesperson in his administration, would run in a district that grew more Republican when new lines were drawn after the 2020 census. But the state GOP was less pleased. It removed Ortagus — who relocated to Nashville in 2021 — from the ballot, citing the party’s requirement that candidates vote in three of the last four statewide primaries.

Harriet Hageman, Republican U.S. Representative candidate for Wyoming

Wyoming — Aug. 16 primary

Harriet Hageman

Few fellow Republicans have gotten under Trump’s skin like Hageman’s opponent, Rep. Liz Cheney. Since the Capitol riot, Cheney has been a vocal critic of the president; she voted for his second impeachment and is a lead player in the House Jan. 6 committee hearings on the insurrection. “Unlike RINO Liz Cheney, Harriet is all in for America First,” Trump said when he officially backed Hageman. Many of Cheney’s House Republican colleagues have followed Trump’s lead, including GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, who took the extraordinary step of endorsing and fundraising for a sitting member’s challenger.

  • 😡 ✈️

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Governor

ONLY FOR USE WITH TRUMP ENDORSEMENT STORY — NOT HIGH RES. Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin

IDAHO — May 17 primary

Janice McGeachin

Loses primary

Idaho’s lieutenant governor, Janice McGeachin, has openly feuded with Republican Gov. Brad Little, going so far as attempting to overturn Little’s pandemic-related policies when he was out of state. Trump sided with McGeachin last fall, calling her “a true supporter of MAGA since the very beginning.” Since then, she drew condemnation in the state for making a taped appearance at a conference founded by a prominent white nationalist and antisemite; she said later she didn’t know much about the organizer’s views.

David Perdue - Former Georgia Senator. Perdue is currently a candidate for Governor of Georgia in 2022.

GEORGIA — May 24 primary

David Perdue

Loses primary

Trump has nursed a grudge against Gov. Brian Kemp ever since the Republican rejected Trump’s efforts to overturn 2020 election results. Former U.S. Sen. David Perdue challenged Kemp at Trump’s urging and premised his campaign on false claims of voter fraud. Trump rallied in Georgia for Perdue, and his PAC gave more than $3 million to groups running attack ads against Kemp. But voters forcefully sided with the incumbent governor, who beat Perdue in a landslide.

  • ✈️ 😡

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo

Nevada — June 14 primary

Joe Lombardo

Wins primary
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo was the front-runner in a crowded Republican field vying to challenge Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak. Lombardo has recognized President Biden as the winner of the 2020 election in recent interviews, a departure from the former president and most of his preferred candidates. Still, Lombardo has played to GOP fears of election fraud, with calls for stricter voting laws, including overturning a new law to send mail-in ballots to all voters.

Republican governor candidate for Arizona Kari Lake

Arizona — Aug. 2 primary

Kari Lake

Result pending

Former local news anchor Kari Lake scored an early endorsement after embracing the lie that Trump won the 2020 presidential race in Arizona. Lake said she would not have certified Biden’s win in the state, unlike term-limited Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, whom Trump frequently attacks. The former president praised Lake in a statement for making “the Fraudulent 2020 Election a primary part of her campaign” and disparaged her GOP competitors as “weak.”

  • ✈️

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Secretary of state

Jody Hice United States 116th Congress official photo

Georgia — May 24 primary

Jody Hice

Loses primary

The Georgia congressman ran against Republican incumbent Brad Raffensperger, who in 2020 resisted pressure from Trump to overturn election results in his state. Trump — who pressed Raffensperger to “find” him votes — was fixated on ousting him as well as Gov. Brian Kemp. Hice, who promoted false claims of election fraud, was rewarded with an early endorsement from the former president and onstage appearances at Trump rallies. But Raffensperger beat Hice by double digits and avoided a runoff by winning more than 50% of the vote.

  • 😡 ✈️

Mark Finchem (Republican Party) is a member of the Arizona House of Representatives, representing District 11.

Arizona — Aug. 2 primary

Mark Finchem

Wins primary

State Rep. Mark Finchem was a key figure in the “Stop the Steal” movement, which sought to overturn Trump’s election loss. He was spotted at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and was a prominent supporter of the chaotic partisan review of Maricopa County’s election results. He is now seeking to be the state’s top elections official and has appeared at Trump rallies both in his home state and in Iowa.

  • ✈️

Kristina Karamo, Republican candidate for Michigan Secretary of State

Michigan — Nov. 8 general election

Kristina Karamo

Nominated at convention

Kristina Karamo, a community college professor, claimed to have witnessed fraud in the 2020 election. Election reviews debunked her allegations, but the charges won her Trump’s approval. The state GOP nominated her in April (it will become official in August); Michigan law allows parties to select their own candidates for certain races. Karamo is looking ahead to facing the Democratic incumbent, Jocelyn Benson, in November.

  • ✈️

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About this story

Text by Melanie Mason and Terry Castleman. Page design by Terry Castleman.

Photo credits:
Topper: Photo illustration by Allison Hong/Los Angeles Times; Alex Brandon/Associated Press
Senate: Jeffrey Dean/AP, Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, Republican National Committee, U.S. House Office of Photography, U.S. House Office of Photography, Mark Thiessen/AP
House: Joe Maiorana/AP, Michael Conroy/AP, House Creative Committee, Interior Department, Jose Luis Magana/AP, Defense Department, Ted S. Warren/AP, JT/STAR MAX/IPx 202, State Department, Tristan Wheelock/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Governor: Idaho Lt. Governor Office, U.S. Senate, John Locher/AP, Mario Tama/Getty Images
Secretary of State: House Office of Photography, Arizona House of Representatives, Junfu Han/Detroit Free Press via AP
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