Republican voters in Nevada on Tuesday elevated conservative candidates who have fervently embraced Donald J. Trump’s false claims of electoral fraud, turning a major swing state this fall into a contest between embattled Democrats and Republicans who insist President Biden won the election. 2020 has stolen.
The Nevada primaries victories for Mr. Trump were the culmination of a series of elections on Tuesday that saw a South Carolina Republican legislator who passed over Mr. Trump went down, survived another her Trump-backed challenge and a Hispanic Republican a South Texas clinched House seat vacated by a Democrat.
Those results gave mixed signals about Mr Trump’s continued hold over the party, even as scrutiny of his actions intensifies after his defeat in 2020. At the same time, Tuesday’s election suggested Republicans remain on track for strong gains in November’s midterm elections.
By flipping the Rio Grande Valley seat of former Texas Representative Filemon Vela, Mayra Flores became the first Republican to represent the majority Hispanic district in the seat’s 10-year history, and she became the first Republican Latina to hold the seat. state has ever sent to Congress.
Due to the sheer number of tossup competitions, few states will rival Nevada this fall. Republicans see opportunities to oust a host of Democrats, including Governor Steve Sisolak; Lt. Governor Lisa Cano Burkhead; three Democratic members of the House; and Senator Catherine Cortez Masto.
Among the Republicans who won their primaries on Tuesday were Adam Laxalt, a Senate candidate and former Nevada Attorney General who spearheaded Mr Trump’s efforts to reverse the 2020 election results, and State Councilman Jim Marchant, a candidate for secretary of state who has pushed conspiracy theories. about voting machines and hopes to oversee the 2024 elections in the state.
Election night on Tuesday kicked off with the South Carolina defeat of Representative Tom Rice by a Republican primary challenger backed by Mr Trump, while another South Carolina Republican, Representative Nancy Mace, survived.
Both Mr. Rice and Ms. Mace had crossed the former president as he struggled to maintain power after the Jan. 6 attack, which is now in the spotlight of congressional hearings. Mr Rice, a staunch Conservative in a coastal district conservative, was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him for inciting the riot. Ms Mace said in her maiden speech as a newly elected freshman that Mr Trump was responsible for the deadly chaos, although she did not vote to impeach him.
In turn, Mr. Trump backed Katie Arrington to take on Ms. Mace and State Representative Russell Fry to challenge Mr. Rice, who said Mr. Trump was on a “traveling revenge quest”. Mr Trump, who turned 76 Tuesday, called on South Carolina voters to get him “a beautiful, beautiful birthday present” — two defeats to both Ms. Mace and Mr. Rice.
The South Carolina games had their own dynamics – Mr. Rice was defiant and disdainful of Mr. Trump to the very end, while Ms. Mace tried her best to regain the good graces of Trump administration officials, if not Mr. Trump himself. The results of both races could hold deep meaning for the party as it considers renaming the former president for another White House run.
“It’s taken a while, but we’re finally here,” Ms Mace told those in attendance for a victory party in Charleston, thanking Ms Arrington for “boarding the arena.” She added: “This is going to make our campaign even stronger in November.”
Tuesday’s election was sort of the focal point of a Republican season that sent decidedly mixed signals to party leadership. Mr. Trump has racked up a number of significant victories, propelling his elected Senate candidates to primary victories, such as JD Vance in Ohio and Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania. However, his approved candidates have lost primary runs for governor in Georgia and Nebraska, as well as a key secretary of state in Georgia.
There are still contests high on his revenge list, such as Representative Liz Cheney’s primary in Wyoming on Aug. 16. Ahead of the Aug. 2 primary in Arizona, Mr. Trump has backed Kari Lake, a promoter of his bogus stolen election claims to be the state’s next governor. To face Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona, he singled out Blake Masters, who was caught on tape promoting the conspiracy that a third of the people outside the Capitol were FBI agents on Jan. 6.
In South Carolina, Mr. Rice was only the second of 10 impeaching Republicans to present his case for reelection to the party’s primary voters, and he was the first to lose. The other, Representative David Valadao of California, is clinging to a small lead over a Trump-aligned challenger as the vote count continues after the primary there last week. The defeat of Mr. Rice means half of the 10 will not return to Congress next year, while other contests are yet to come, including Ms. Cheney.
Ms Mace’s reelection round had divided the Trump community. The Trump administration’s most prominent South Carolinians — former Representative Mick Mulvaney, his budget director and acting chief of staff, and former Governor Nikki Haley, who served as United Nations ambassador — both supported Ms. Mace against Ms. Arrington, who is a proven gamble for the party since losing the seat to a Democrat in 2018.
Ms. Haley, who is considering her own candidacy for president in 2024, had made an effort to support Ms. Mace before Mr. Trump could support Ms. Arrington, a move that established some independence without openly contradicting the former president.
“It’s a great day in South Carolina!” Mrs. Haley proclaimed with Mrs. Mace’s victory.
In South Texas Republican turmoil, Ms. Flores won a special election to fill the remainder of Mr. Vela’s term through the end of the year, becoming one of three Latinas to ever represent the state in Congress. The seat will again be up for grabs in the November general election. But even her temporary victory portends wider Republican victories in the Democratic stronghold of South Texas.
Ms. Flores — who was born in Tamaulipas, Mexico, and is the wife of a border patrol officer — raised 16 times the amount pledged by her closest Democratic competitor, Dan Sanchez.
Understand the 2022 midterm elections
Why are these midterms so important? This year’s races could tip the balance of power in Congress to Republicans, shattering President Biden’s agenda for the second half of his term. They will also test former President Donald J. Trump’s role as GOP kingmaker. Here’s what you need to know:
She had not received formal endorsement from Mr. Trump, but she had campaigned as a Trump-inspired Republican focused on border security. Her campaign signs emphasized three words: “Dios, familia, patria.” God, family, country.
In one of her first campaign ads, she made her way through a thick field of blooming cotton in South Texas, stirring up a Democratic Party that she said insisted on selling Hispanics with the idea that they should be dependent on a big government.
“When I was 13 years old, I worked every day, all day in this cotton field, in the hot Texas sun,” she said, adding that immigrants like her came “the legal way” to pursue the American Dream. . She called for a militarization of the border, embraced Mr Trump’s false claims about voter fraud and often denounced the “radical socialist communist agenda.”
In Nevada, Republican candidates largely sought to align themselves with Mr Trump, taking hard-right stances on abortion, guns, immigration, and teaching race and gender in schools.
In the Senate race, Mrs. Cortez Masto will face off against Mr. Laxalt, the grandson of a former Nevada governor and senator who fought off a late wave of veteran Sam Brown.
But it was Mr Marchant who worries many Democrats the most. During events with MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and other Trump allies, Mr. Marchant has embraced some of the most far-fetched and debunked electoral conspiracy theories. He has insisted that all votes be cast and counted by hand, and he organized the “America First” secretary of state to elect candidates who have embraced false claims about the 2020 election.
As it has been in recent elections, Nevada promises to be a battleground in the 2024 presidential campaign, and the person leading the election will be Mr. Marchant or Cisco Aguilar, a Democrat and former aide to the late Senate leader Harry. Reid.
“Enough of the falsehoods. We need to focus on the truths in a twofold way,” Mr Aguilar told The Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Outside of those statewide offices, three seats in the Nevada House are considered fall tossups, a potential windfall for Republicans as they seek control of Congress.
In Nevada, where Mr. Reid and the state’s Culinary Union have built an influential Democratic political machine, a racially diverse coalition of workers and Latino voters has won crucial Democratic victories in presidential elections since 2008. But the president’s party tends to lose ground in Nevada. midterm elections. This is especially true for the Democrats in Nevada. Democratic turnout in the state’s midterm elections tends to take a sharp nosedive, in Republicans’ favor.
Maya King and Jennifer Medina reporting contributed.