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Politics Rightward tilt of GOP primaries worry some Republicans

17:45  07 may  2018
17:45  07 may  2018 Source:   msn.com

Early GOP primaries shaping up as rightward march with Trump

  Early GOP primaries shaping up as rightward march with Trump As primary season kicks into high gear, Republicans are engaged in nomination fights that are pulling the party to the right, leaving some leaders worriedLoad Error

In this April 30, 2018, photo, Senate candidates from left, Todd Rokita, Luke Messer and Mike Braun speak with each other following the Indiana Republican senate primary debate in Indianapolis. As primary season kicks into high gear, Republicans are engaged in nomination fights that are pulling the party to the right, leaving some leaders worried their candidates will be out of a step with the broader electorate in the November election. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, Pool) © The Associated Press In this April 30, 2018, photo, Senate candidates from left, Todd Rokita, Luke Messer and Mike Braun speak with each other following the Indiana Republican senate primary debate in Indianapolis. As primary season kicks into high gear, Republicans are engaged in nomination fights that are pulling the party to the right, leaving some leaders worried their candidates will be out of a step with the broader electorate in the November election. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, Pool)

As primary season kicks into high gear, Republicans are engaged in nomination fights that are pulling the party to the right, leaving some leaders worried their candidates will be out of a step with the broader electorate in November.

Are Republicans about to nominate a Democrat for the Senate in Indiana?

  Are Republicans about to nominate a Democrat for the Senate in Indiana? One of the top candidates in Indiana's GOP primary is labeled in the Republican National Committee's voter files as a "hard Democrat." Mike Braun is an Indiana businessman and former state representative who is seen by operatives in both parties as the front-runner headed into Tuesday's Republican primary to determine who takes on Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in November.

Primaries in four states on Tuesday, all in places Donald Trump carried in 2016, showcase races in which GOP candidates are jockeying to be seen as the most conservative, the most anti-Washington and the most loyal to the president. It's evidence of the onetime outsider's deepening imprint on the Republican Party he commandeered less than two years ago.

In Indiana, Republicans will pick from among three Senate candidates who have spent much of the race praising Trump and bashing each other. In West Virginia, a former federal convict and coal baron has taken aim at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., with racially charged accusations of corruption.

In Ohio, Republicans are certain to nominate someone more conservative than outgoing GOP Gov. John Kasich, a 2016 presidential candidate, moderate 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 following Democrats' 2010 health insurance overhaul.

Party Primaries Are a Problem for the GOP

  Party Primaries Are a Problem for the GOP Ideologically motivated primary voters keep nominating dud candidates who can’t win general elections.Tomorrow, Republican voters in West Virginia head to the polls to decide who will be the party’s nominee in the Senate contest against Senator Joe Manchin. Manchin is a longtime figure in the Mountain State, but as a Democrat in one of the most pro-Trump places in the country, he is vulnerable.

With Trump's job approval hanging around 40 percent and the GOP-run Congress less than half that, the abandonment of the middle has some Republicans raising alarms.

"The far left and the far right always think they are going to dominate these elections," said John Weaver, a Trump critic and top strategist to Kasich, who has been become a near-pariah in the primary to succeed him.

"You may think it's wise in a primary to handcuff yourself to the president," Weaver said. "But when the ship goes down, you may not be able to get the cuffs off."

North Carolina Republicans will weigh in on the fate of Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger, facing a primary challenger who almost upset him two years ago. Pittenger features Trump prominently in his campaign. Challenger Mark Harris, a prominent Charlotte pastor, has tried to turn the table, saying Pittenger is a creature of Washington who refuses to help Trump "drain that swamp."

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Tough primaries certainly don't have to be disastrous. They often gin up voter attention and engagement, and can signal strong turnout in the general election.

Dallas Woodhouse, who runs the North Carolina Republican Party, said candidates benefit because they must "make their arguments and voters become more aware of the election."

Trump and his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton each survived internal party battles in 2016. Clinton won the national popular vote that year, but in the states that mattered most — Ohio and North Carolina, among them — wary Republicans gravitated back to Trump while Clinton struggled to hit the usual Democratic base targets.

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. Blankenship has unleashed a political ad that takes swipes at © 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. Blankenship has unleashed a political ad that takes swipes at "China people" and calls the Senate majority leader "Cocaine Mitch." His ad says McConnell has created jobs for "China people" and charges that his "China family" has given him millions of dollars. McConnell's wife is U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, whose parents are originally from China.(AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

Few national Republicans look at West Virginia and see helpful enthusiasm.

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.

Former coal executive Don Blankenship has accused McConnell of creating jobs for "China people" and charges that the senator's "China family" has given him millions of dollars. McConnell's wife is Trump's transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, who was born in Taiwan.

Trump urged West Virginia voters to reject Blankenship, predicting the former coal company executive would lose the general election as Republican Roy Moore did in Alabama after allegations of sexual misconduct came to light.

Trump tweeted on Monday: "To the great people of West Virginia we have, together, a really great chance to keep making a big difference. Problem is, Don Blankenship, currently running for Senate, can't win the General Election in your State...No way! Remember Alabama. Vote Rep. Jenkins or A.G. Morrisey!"

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said on Monday on Fox and Friends the president was trying to avoid internal battles and "find the very best person" in West Virginia to defeat incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, in the general election.

Indiana Senate candidates are trying to appeal to Trump voters by adopting the president's harsh immigration rhetoric and penchant for personal insults. The candidates have even channeled Trump by assigning derisive nicknames to one another: "Lyin'" Todd Rokita, Luke "Missing" Messer and "Tax Hike" Mike Braun.

4 pot companies merge, will focus on bundled services

  4 pot companies merge, will focus on bundled services The burgeoning cannabis industry, rife with mergers these days, is adding another to the list. Four businesses agreed to join forces as TILT Holdings Inc., which will have a market capitalization of more than $500 million and plans to trade on the Canadian Securities Exchange, the company said Tuesday. The merger focuses on bundling services -- from software to development of indoor cultivation, rather than amassing marijuana volume, according to Chief Executive Officer Alex Coleman.Pot M&A is front of mind for many after Aurora Cannabis Inc. agreed to buy Canadian rival MedReleaf Corp.

In several of the Tuesday primaries, Democrats are watching with delight, and having less trouble aligning behind nominees. The chief beneficiaries would be Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, both sitting on healthy campaign accounts after avoiding their own primary fights.

The leading Democrat for the North Carolina seat, Marine veteran Dan McCready, has raised almost $2 million, slightly more than Harris and Pittenger combined, in a district Trump won by about 12 percentage points. "He will absolutely make this competitive," Harris said.

In the Ohio governor's race, liberal former Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former state Attorney General Richard Cordray have managed to avoid open warfare. Cordray, who also led the federal consumer watchdog agency launched under President Barack Obama, is the favorite.

Republicans watched their state party, led by pro-Trump leadership that replaced Kasich allies after the 2016 elections, endorse state Attorney General Mike Dewine, while Taylor has effectively shunned an earlier endorsement from Kasich.

"If Ohio Republicans are divided into Trump Republicans and Kasich Republicans, the Trump Republicans have won," said the state Democratic chairman, David Pepper. "That helps us."

Gallup measures Trump with an 89 percent job approval rating among Republicans nationally, but 35 percent among independents and 42 percent overall. Historically, presidents below 50 percent watch their party suffer steep losses in midterm elections.

Democrats must flip about two dozen Republican-held seats to reclaim a House majority, and they must do it with Republican-run legislatures having drawn many districts to the GOP's advantage. In North Carolina, Harris said the makeup of the district, which stretches from Republican areas of metro Charlotte east through small towns and rural counties, makes his pro-Trump, anti-establishment message a primary and November winner.

Senate Democrats are just two seats shy of a majority, but must defend 26 incumbents, 10 in states where Trump won, including Ohio, Indiana and West Virginia. Republicans are defending nine seats, just one in a state Trump lost.

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Barrow reported from Washington and Atlanta. Follow Barrow on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BillBarrowAP

Never-ending Russia probe could fuel GOP's midterm message .
As Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe hits the one-year mark Thursday, Republicans in midterm elections have started to see an opportunity to use the Trump controversy to their advantage – by appealing to voters tired of the never-ending investigation. Candidates in some GOP primaries this year already have worked to woo Trump supporters by arguing it’s time to end the Russia probe. Other Republicans are likely to follow suit amid a sense of Mueller investigation fatigue.

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