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An endorsement from President Trump – it’s the most coveted prize nowadays in Republican primary politics.
And on Tuesday, the potency of a Trump endorsement in a contested GOP race was on display once again as two candidates backed by the president won their primary battles in New Hampshire, which was holding federal and state primary contests.
Republican Senate candidate Bryant ‘Corky’ Messner edged out retired Army Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc in the GOP Senate primary, thanks in part to support from the president. And Matt Mowers, another Trump backed candidate, crushed his rivals in the Republican House primary in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District.
Both candidates received shoutouts from the president when Trump held a re-election campaign event in New Hampshire a week and a half ago. Messner quickly used the clip of the president praising him in his closing TV commercial in the race. The spot also showcased a clip of Messer speaking earlier at the rally pledging to “help President Trump bring this economy back.”
Mowers, a veteran political operative and strategist who worked on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign before serving in the State Department during the first two years of the Trump presidency, told supporters in his victory speech that “I want to thank a good friend of all of ours, the President of the United States for his early support in this campaign.”
Taking a page from the president’s playbook, Mowers has made a push for law and order central to his campaign. In a TV ad, he accused Democratic incumbent Rep. Chris Pappas of siding “with violent mobs over our police.”
Trump endorsed both Messner and Mowers earlier this summer. Besides praising them during his New Hampshire stop late last month, the president also tweeted his support for both candidates on the eve of Tuesday’s primary.
And both candidates also had the support the Trump re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee, much to the chagrin of their rivals.
Messner will now mount a longshot campaign against popular two-term Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who was the first woman in America to be elected both governor and senator. And Mowers will be considered the underdog as he challenges Pappas, who’s running for a second term in Congress.
Nearly all of the president’s endorsements in contested GOP primaries have paid off this cycle. Only two candidates endorsed by the president have gone down to defeat. Trump backed businesswoman Lynda Bennett lost a GOP runoff for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District on June 23. And freshman Rep. Denver Riggleman lost his re-nomination primary battle in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District in an unusual drive-through convention – after sparking outrage for officiating at a same-sex wedding.
But what helps in a GOP primary may hurt in the general election – at least in blue and purple states. New Hampshire’s a general election battleground, and state and national Democrats immediately began targeting Messner and Mowers for their “blind loyalty” to Trump.
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