US 2022 primaries: Trump seeks to boost Republican candidates

Former United States President Donald Trump has been seeking revenge ever since Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger refused his demands that they overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia.

That battle is coming to a head on Tuesday as voters in Georgia go to the polls to choose preferred Republican and Democratic candidates for the November general elections that will determine control of Congress. Other primary races to watch are happening in Alabama, Arkansas and Texas.

Should the Republicans gain a majority in either the House of Representatives or the Senate, it would be a blow to President Joe Biden, a Democrat, as they would almost certainly block his legislative agenda.

In Georgia’s governor’s race, Trump has backed former US Senator David Purdue against Kemp but Purdue has lagged in fundraising and opinion surveys. Kemp has drawn broad support from other Republicans and is favoured to win.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s top elections official Raffensperger is facing a challenge by Representative Jody Hice, a US congressman who has backed Trump’s false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Congressman Jody Hice, a Trump ally who is running to be Georgia’s secretary of state, attends a rally in Perry, Georgia [Dustin Chambers/Reuters]

Georgia

In Georgia on Monday, former Vice President Mike Pence is set to campaign with Kemp, while Trump will participate in a virtual rally for Purdue.

Since leaving office, Pence has put distance between himself and Trump over the former president’s claims about the 2020 election.

“Mike is trying to get involved, and he’s a very nice man, but he really let us all down. He let us down,” Trump told a radio talk show earlier this month. Trump had recruited Purdue to take on Kemp.

Kemp would face Stacey Abrams, a Democrat who is unopposed, in a rematch of their 2018 battle.

Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker speaks to supporters during a campaign stop, May 14, 2022, in Ellijay, Ga.
Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker speaks to supporters during a campaign stop on May 14 in Ellijay, Georgia [Mike Stewart/AP Photo]

Trump’s candidate for US Senate in Georgia, American football legend Herschel Walker, appears to be cruising to the Republican nomination.

But some Republicans have warned that Walker will be unelectable in November against incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock. Walker has been accused of threatening his ex-wife’s life, exaggerating his business record and lying about graduating from the University of Georgia.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, a political lightning rod, is trying to stave off multiple Republican challengers to win renomination for the House of Representatives.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., departs the House chamber at the end of votes, at the Capitol in Washington.
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene is testing Republican voters’ tolerance for controversy in the May 24, 2022 Republican primary [File: J Scott Applewhite/AP Photo]

The Trump acolyte was stripped of her committee assignments last year over racist remarks, her embrace of conspiracy theories and a past endorsement of violence.

A group of voters tried but failed to knock her off the ballot, accusing her of helping foment the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol.

Alabama

An opening created by the retirement of longtime Senator Richard Shelby has launched a heated primary battle for the Senate seat in Republican-dominated Alabama.

US Representative Mo Brooks, a Trump ally, faces Katie Britt, the former leader of the Business Council of Alabama and Shelby’s former chief of staff, and businessman Mike Durant, best known as the Army helicopter pilot shot down and held captive the 1993 “Black Hawk Down” incident in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., speaks with reporters, March 23, 2022, in Hueytown, Ala.
Trump ally Representative Mo Brooks speaks with reporters in Hueytown, Alabama [Kimberly Chandler/AP Photo]

Arkansas

In Arkansas, two-term US Senator John Boozman hopes to fend off a challenge from three Republican rivals in a race in which he has had to lean on his endorsement from Trump.

The mild-mannered Boozman has taken a more aggressive tone in his campaign ads, vowing to complete Trump’s wall along the US-Mexico border.

Boozman’s rivals include a former NFL player, who has attacked Boozman as not conservative enough, and a conservative activist and former TV reporter.

Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders speaks at a campaign stop at a Dairy Queen in Little Rock, Ark.
Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders speaks at a campaign stop at a Dairy Queen in Little Rock, Arkansas [Andrew DeMillo/AP Photo]

Trump’s former spokesperson Sarah Sanders is heavily favoured in her Republican primary for governor. She faces a long-shot primary challenge from a former talk show radio host. Her father Mike Huckabee had served as governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007.

Sanders has shattered fundraising records and has focused mainly on national issues, running TV spots criticising Biden on issues like inflation while ignoring her rivals.

Texas

Runoff votes in Texas will finally settle two primary races of interest. Republican George P Bush, a nephew of former US President George W Bush, is contending for attorney general against incumbent Ken Paxton, who has faced legal scandals.

.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, talks to a member of the media during a campaign event. Cuellar, a 17-year incumbent is facing a Democratic primary runoff against progressive Jessica Cisneros.
Henry Cuellar, a 17-year House incumbent from Texas, is facing a Democratic primary runoff against progressive Jessica Cisneros [File: Eric Gay/AP Photo]

Among Democrats, Representative Henry Cuellar, an anti-abortion politician, is facing a challenge by Jessica Cisneros, a 28-year-old immigration attorney and abortion rights supporter.

More broadly, Republican voters are divided on another Trump presidential run.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has been gaining in national name recognition, came out on top in a straw poll of Wisconsin Republican activists over the weekend, according to a WisPolitics.com report. Party convention participants favoured DeSantis by 38 percent to Trump’s 32 percent in the race for the US presidency.

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