Here are four takeaways from Tuesday night’s primaries — and a look ahead to more stress tests for former President Donald Trump in the coming week.
Trump’s winning run stalls in Nebraska
Trump’s midterm election streak ended Tuesday night in Nebraska.
A week after he swept into the state and spoke for two hours at a rally for Charles Herbster in the Republican governor’s primary, a wide majority of voters rejected his advice and instead chose Jim Pillen, the contender backed by the GOP establishment.
In one of the most expensive and vicious political campaigns in recent Nebraska memory, it was the endorsement from Gov. Pete Ricketts that mattered most. Ricketts not only supported Pillen and guided his campaign from the start, he also invested millions of his own money to defeat Herbster.
Trump implored voters to ignore sexual misconduct allegations against Herbster, saying the claims from eight women were “malicious.”
For Trump, it was not his only failure of the night.
Nebraska GOP gets the matchups it wants in House races
Rep. Don Bacon, a Republican who drew the former President’s ire for supporting the bipartisan infrastructure plan, easily won his primary on Tuesday night, despite Trump’s calls to defeat him.
Bacon had been mildly critical of the former President over the January 6, 2021, riot at the US Capitol and voted for Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure legislation. Trump, at his speech in Nebraska earlier this month, called Bacon a “bad guy” and shouted out his challenger, businessman Steve Kuehl.
“Good luck, Steve,” Trump said, “whoever the hell you are.”
In the end, even those kind words weren’t enough. Trump did not endorse in the race and Bacon now has a November date with CNN’s projected winner in the Democratic primary, state Sen. Tony Vargas. Highly regarded in Democratic circles, Vargas is expected to lodge a legitimate challenge to Bacon in a district, centered in Omaha, that Biden won in the 2020 presidential election.
While Trump carried Nebraska with 58% of the vote in 2020 — and would almost certainly win again if he decides to run for President in 2024 — the outcome of the state’s primary showed the limits of the power of his endorsements. And even bigger tests for Trump are still to come this month in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and beyond.
Meanwhile, the political fate of former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who resigned in late March after being convicted of lying to the FBI, was sealed by Republican primary voters in the state’s 1st Congressional District.
Keep reading here for more takeaways: