President Donald Trump makes and breaks candidates. In fact, he’s been called a ‘King Maker’ and a ‘King Breaker.’ Because most of the time, what Trump endorses, wins.
Still, while a Trump endorsement can help a stagnant campaign, it’s not the Holy Grail.
Let’s take J. D. Vance for example. Vance managed to come out as a King. He beat a field of many, and garnered about one-third the vote. In other words, two-thirds of the people either didn’t take Trump’s advice, or were completely checked out from the election cycle.
Still, the author of the bestselling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy” and a former venture capitalist, surged to the lead in the GOP primary over the last two weeks, fueled by a Trump endorsement in mid-April. Vance had been stuck in third place prior to receiving Trump’s backing.
The result is a boost for Trump’s political fortunes ahead of several primaries in other states where the former president’s preferred candidate faces long odds. A big question for Trump is how much credit he gets for Vance’s victory in the eyes of Republican politicians, donors and activists.
President Trump’s endorsement was important, but so was the $13.5 million Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel used to jump-start Vance through a super-PAC. Never forget that money is power in politics.
But not all races went as smooth as Vance’s.
Jesters and Kings
The Republican gubernatorial primary in Nebraska and the 2nd Congressional District Republican primary in West Virginia produced mixed results.
Jim Pillen, a businessman and member of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, won his race against Trump’s endorsed candidate, wealthy businessman Charles Herbster. I must admit, I don’t know why Trump backed Herbster. Perhaps they’re both part of the same “rich boys club,” but one would think Trump would step far, far away from a man that has eight women alleging sexual abuse against him.
To be fair, they could be eight lying skanks, I haven’t bothered to do the research. But perception is everything; image makes the man. These are fundamentals Trump mastered early on in life. And he should stick to the tried and true principles that put him in the Oval Office to begin with. The point is Herbster was a bad choice, thus a jester he became.
On the flip side, the West Virginia race turned out pretty differently. Incumbents Rep. David McKinley and Rep. Alex Mooney faced off against three other challengers in the primary. Trump put his weight behind Mooney. Perhaps because Mooney isn’t scared to acknowledge the Big Cheat.
Yet, McKinley had the support of Republican West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. In fact, Manchin went as far as releasing an ad in which he said, “Alex Mooney has proven he’s all about Alex Mooney. But West Virginians know David McKinley is all about us.”
Were the endorsements the deciding factor?
It’s hard to know for sure. What I do know is that West Virginia is among the poorest states of our nation. And voters know McKinley jumped ship and helped Democrats pass Biden’s massive infrastructure bill that is expected to funnel $6 billion to the state. Mooney stood with the GOP and voted against Biden’s plan. It was then that Mooney secured Trump’s support. In the end, McKinley is the jester, and Mooney is the King. Exactly as Trump said it should be.
ABC News elaborates:
Greg Thomas, a Republican political consultant in the state who knows both candidates and once worked for McKinley, was of the belief that Trump’s support for Mooney could, in fact, be a tipping point.
“Trump’s personality isn’t something that we see a lot here in West Virginia. But his issues, these are West Virginia conservative issues and have been before Trump came along,” he told ABC News.
It will be interesting to see how many kings Trump makes during midterms, and just what the GOP will make of Trump’s endorsements along the way.