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ICYMI: GOP primary fights escalate after Trump’s endorsements [The Hill]

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The Hill: GOP primary fights escalate after Trump’s endorsements
By Tal Axelrod
November 17, 2021

Key Points:

  • Republican candidates who missed out on former President Trump’s endorsement aren’t packing it up. In some cases, they’re starting to hit back harder against their Trump-backed rivals.
  • In marquee Senate races in Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina, the former president’s endorsement has proved far from the field-clearer many expected it would be and candidates running against Trump-backed Republicans in primaries are going on offense to try to offset their opponents’ advantage.
  • Candidates with enough of a platform of their own who are running without his support are finding ways to maintain their footing against an onslaught from Trump’s allies — and at times flawed opponents.
  • Pennsylvania’s Senate race is increasingly being marked by that kind of back-and-forth. Sean Parnell, a former House candidate who is running with Trump’s endorsement for the open seat being vacated by Sen. Pat Toomey (R), has been hit with scandal over allegations of domestic abuse by his estranged wife, leaving Jeff Bartos, the most prominent Republican alternative in the race, with an opening.
  • The controversy surrounding him was first on reporters’ radars after the Bartos campaign dropped opposition research revealing temporary protective orders that were filed against Parnell by his wife.
  • In Georgia, Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker has coalesced support from the GOP establishment after first winning the backing of Trump, an old ally. There too, Walker has been accused of domestic abuse, including that he threatened his ex-wife’s life.
  • Gary Black, Georgia’s agriculture commissioner and another GOP Senate candidate… released documents, including police reports filed regarding Walker, and gave a press conference calling Walker’s behavior “wrong”… Black’s campaign insists that it’s worth discussing Walker’s baggage before the GOP primary while the party still has a choice to make about its nominee.
  • And in Nevada, where Republicans are hoping to knock off Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D), Trump-backed Republican Adam Laxalt is still trying to fend off first-time candidate Sam Brown, who raised more than $1 million in the third quarter of 2021.
  • The back-and-forth in the GOP primaries has shown no signs of abating. And while primaries are still months away, leaving time for candidates to drop out or unforeseen developments to shake up the field, concerns are brewing over increasingly ugly nominating contests…brutal primaries in marquee contests could damage the ultimate GOP nominee and hand Democrats an edge in races.

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