•   
  •   
  •   

Offbeat GOP outsider tests Trump's influence in WV Senate contest

01:55  09 may  2018
01:55  09 may  2018 Source:   msn.com

Republicans vie to challenge vulnerable Manchin, Donnelly in looming primary battles

  Republicans vie to challenge vulnerable Manchin, Donnelly in looming primary battles Republicans hope that four primaries in the coming weeks will yield the kind of top-tier candidates good enough to beat at least a couple vulnerable-but-seasoned Democratic incumbents and solidify the GOP’s Senate majority. But outsider candidates and negative campaigns in two high-value targets -- Indiana and West Virginia -- threaten to foil GOP plans. West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has been a top GOP target since at least Nov. 2016 -- when Republican Donald Trump won the state with 68.7 percent of the vote.Many voters have said they were resentful about what they called the Obama administration’s “war on coal.

FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2018, file photo, former Massey CEO and West Virginia Republican Senatorial candidate, Don Blankenship, speaks during a town hall to kick off his campaign in Logan, W.Va. Voters in the heart of Trump country are ready to decide the fate of Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship, a brash businessman with a checkered past who’s testing the appeal of President Donald Trump’s outsider playbook in one of the nation’s premiere midterm contests. The West Virginia primary comes as voters across four states decide primary elections Tuesday in states Trump carried in 2016. In most cases, the candidates are jockeying to be seen as the most loyal to the president. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)© The Associated Press FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2018, file photo, former Massey CEO and West Virginia Republican Senatorial candidate, Don Blankenship, speaks during a town hall to kick off his campaign in Logan, W.Va. Voters in the heart of Trump country are ready to decide the fate of Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship, a brash businessman with a checkered past who’s testing the appeal of President Donald Trump’s outsider playbook in one of the nation’s premiere midterm contests. The West Virginia primary comes as voters across four states decide primary elections Tuesday in states Trump carried in 2016. In most cases, the candidates are jockeying to be seen as the most loyal to the president. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Republicans were deciding Tuesday between a brash GOP outsider who embraced Donald Trump's political playbook — but was opposed by the president — and a more traditional party candidate to take on vulnerable Democrat Joe Manchin this fall in an election both parties view as key to Senate control.

Republican House members seek Nobel Peace Prize for Trump

  Republican House members seek Nobel Peace Prize for Trump A group of House Republicans is seeking the Nobel Peace Prize for President Donald Trump because of his work to ease nuclear tensions with North Korea. Indiana Rep. Luke Messer has released a letter sent to members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee that was signed by 18 Republicans. The letter says North Korea ignored international demands to cease its aggressions but that Trump's "peace through strength policies" are bringing North Korea to the negotiating table. It said the Trump administration united China and others in imposing strict sanctions.

Trump and his allies made their preference clear. And it wasn't former coal executive Don Blankenship, who served a year in prison for his role in a deadly mine disaster and more recently attacked the Asian heritage of the top Senate Republican's wife.

As Trump did unsuccessfully in a special Alabama Senate primary last year, the president warned on the eve of this primary election that Blankenship would destroy Republicans' chance of winning this fall. Yet it's unclear whether voters will heed that warning, even in the state where Trump claimed his largest margin of victory in 2016.

West Virginia voter Wayne Sturgeon, who voted Tuesday for Blankenship, said he's a Trump supporter but was bothered by the White House intrusion.

GOP frets over West Virginia as 4 states decide primaries

  GOP frets over West Virginia as 4 states decide primaries Voters in the heart of Trump country are ready to decide the fate of Don Blankenship, a brash West Virginia businessman and Republican outsider with a checkered past who is testing the appeal of President Donald Trump's outsider playbook in one of the nation's premiere Senate contests. Voters across four states Trump carried in 2016 are deciding primary elections Tuesday. The stakes are high as the GOP braces for potential major losses this fall.Load Error

"I think it should be left up to the people," Sturgeon said.

Blankenship has embraced Trump's tactics — casting himself as a victim of government persecution and seizing on xenophobia, if not racism — to stand out in a crowded Republican field that includes state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Republican Congressman Evan Jenkins.

The West Virginia Republican Senate contest headlined a slate of primary elections across four states on Tuesday that will help shape the political landscape in this fall's midterm elections. Control of Congress is at stake in addition to state governments across the nation.

The first Indiana polls closed at 6 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, while polls close at 7:30 p.m. in West Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina.

In most cases, the Republican candidates on the ballot Tuesday have competed to be seen as the most conservative, the most anti-Washington and the most loyal to the Republican president.

Businessman Mike Braun wins GOP Indiana Senate nomination

  Businessman Mike Braun wins GOP Indiana Senate nomination Businessman Mike Braun is the projected winner of the Indiana GOP primary, vanquishing two sitting congressmen in what became one of the nastiest primaries in the country. CNN and NBC both called the race for Braun not long after 8 p.m. EST.Braun's victory over GOP Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer gives Republicans their nominee as they look to knock off Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), one of the most vulnerable incumbents of the el ection cycle.With 45 percent of precincts counted, Braun had received roughly 41 percent of the vote, compared to about 29 percent of the vote each for both Rokita and Messer.

In Indiana, Republicans will pick from among three Senate candidates to take on another vulnerable Democrat, Joe Donnelly, this fall.

All three fought to paint themselves as being strong Trump supporters. Rep. Todd Rokita sometimes carried around a cardboard cutout photo of the president. Businessman Mike Braun also tied himself closely to Trump.

Indiana voter Chris Thurston said he chose Rep. Luke Messer in the contest because he wants someone who will be an independent thinker.

"Just because the president says to do something isn't necessarily why it needs to be done," Thurston said.

In Ohio, the governor's race was the main attraction. Republicans were likely to nominate a far more conservative candidate than outgoing GOP Gov. John Kasich, a 2016 presidential candidate and frequent Trump critic. Even Kasich's former running mate, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, has pledged to unwind some of Kasich's centrist policies, including the expansion of the Medicaid government insurance program.

One Ohio voter, Jeffrey Whipple, of Toledo, supported Democratic candidate Richard Cordray in the Democrats' primary because he liked his work as the consumer watchdog under President Barack Obama.

Trump-backed congressman wins Ohio Senate primary

  Trump-backed congressman wins Ohio Senate primary Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), a well-known candidate who was backed by President Trump, is projected to win the GOP primary in a top Senate race. The Associated Press called the race for Renacci at 9:24 p.m. EDT.The congressman defeated his main opponent, investment banker and GOP donor Mike Gibbons, for the Republican nomination. Renacci will now go on to face Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in November. Renacci, who has served in Congress since 2011, was widely expected to win the nomination. He was originally running for Ohio governor until leading Republican Senate hopeful Josh Mandel dropped out of the Senate race.

"Hopefully what Trump's done can be undone," Whipple said.

Ohio also featured primary elections in both parties to decide the candidates for an August special election to replace GOP Rep. Pat Tiberi, who resigned earlier in the year.

North Carolina Republicans weighed in on Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger, who faced a primary challenger who almost upset him two years ago. Pittenger featured Trump prominently in his campaign, while challenger Mark Harris, a prominent Charlotte pastor, called Pittenger a creature of Washington who refuses to help Trump "drain that swamp."

Yet none of Tuesday's other contests was expected to have more impact on the midterm landscape than West Virginia.

The state's Republican electorate is overwhelmingly white, working class and rural, in contrast to other states that feature more suburban voters. Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton by 42 points here less than two years ago, but there are far more Democrats than Republicans registered to vote.

The stakes are high for a Republican Party bracing for major losses in this fall's midterm elections. A victory on Tuesday for Blankenship could make it hard for Republicans to gain a Senate seat in this deep-red state in November. But the anti-establishment fervor unleashed by Trump's 2016 campaign has proved difficult for GOP leaders to rein in.

Dear Washington, you stink

  Dear Washington, you stink oters still don’t think Washington listens to or understands them, and they are still on a mission to drain the swamp.May 8 primary night proved that a key theme from the 2016 elections is far from over. People still can't stand Washington. Voters passed on Melania Trump's advice to "Be Best" and instead bullied members of Congress up and down and off the ballot in several cases.

West Virginia Republican Chairwoman Melody Potter downplayed concerns about Blankenship, pointing to another Republican outsider who ultimately proved the establishment wrong.

"You know, when Trump was running, some of those same people said that, too," Potter said.

No matter Tuesday's winner, Trump's team was keeping pressure on Manchin. A pro-Trump political action committee America First was airing ads promoting Gina Haspel, Trump's nominee to be CIA director, and urging residents to call Manchin to support her confirmation.

Trump and his allies had invested significant resources in an effort to influence another high-profile Senate race recently as well.

Last year, Trump endorsed Republican Sen. Luther Strange for the Alabama seat vacated by Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions. Former state Supreme Court Judge Roy Moore won the GOP runoff and was defeated by Democrat Doug Jones after Moore was accused of sexual misconduct with teenage girls decades earlier.

In that race, Trump ultimately endorsed Moore.

Trump and his party leaders have been more united against Blankenship in recent weeks. The head of the Senate Republican campaign arm has highlighted Blankenship's criminal history. And a group allied with the national GOP, known as Mountain Families PAC, has spent more than $1.2 million in attack ads against Blankenship.

The retired businessman was released less than a year ago from a prison term for a 2010 mine explosion that left 29 men dead. Blankenship led the company that owned the mine and was sentenced to a year in prison for conspiring to break safety laws, a misdemeanor.

Trump to discuss their agendas over lunch with Senate GOP

  Trump to discuss their agendas over lunch with Senate GOP President Donald Trump's Capitol Hill lunch with Senate Republicans comes as the White House and its GOP allies try to coalesce around a political message ahead of midterm elections. The White House says the meeting Tuesday is to discuss the administration's agenda, as well as the upcoming Senate vote on Trump's nominee for CIA director.Trump routinely drops in on congressional Republicans. The White House says the meeting Tuesday is to discuss the administration's agenda, as well as the upcoming Senate vote on Trump's nominee for CIA director.

He has repeatedly blamed government regulators for the disaster, casting himself as the victim of an overzealous Obama-era Justice Department — an argument Trump regularly uses to dismiss federal agents investigating his campaign's ties to Russia.

The Senate candidate took aim at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in an ad claiming that McConnell has created jobs for "China people" and that his "China family" has given him millions of dollars. McConnell's wife is U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, born in Taiwan.

Even as Blankenship rebuffed Trump's criticism this week, he described himself as "Trumpier than Trump" and played up his outsider credentials.

"West Virginia will send the swamp a message: No one, and I mean no one, will tell us how to vote," Blankenship declared.

___

Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press writers Bill Barrow in Charleston, West Virginia, and John Seewer in Toledo, Ohio contributed to this report.

Obama officials set for Senate grilling on Russia, as Comey stands up committee .
The Senate Intelligence Committee is preparing to question top Obama administration intelligence officials behind closed doors on Wednesday on their explosive assessment that officially accused Russia of meddling in the 2016 presidential election to boost then-candidate Donald Trump. The committee, led by Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., invited former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan, former National Security Agenda Director Michael Rogers (who retired earlier this year) and former FBI Director James Comey.

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks

Topical videos:

usr: 1
This is interesting!