3 primary contests to watch Tuesday in West Virginia and Nebraska
In the Republican strongholds of West Virginia and Nebraska, bitter divisions within a few notable GOP primary contests take center stage Tuesday.
Former President Donald Trump has endorsed candidates in competitive races in both states, making Tuesday another evaluation of his influence over the Republican Party after a successful showing for Trump-supported candidates last week.
West Virginia's 2nd Congressional District
The latest round of redistricting has eliminated a House district from West Virginia, leaving two incumbent Republican congressmen, David McKinley and Alex Mooney, to fight for control over one seat — and it hasn't been pretty.
Trump has endorsed Mooney, who has attacked McKinley over his support of the infrastructure bill that President Biden signed into law last year, and for backing the creation of an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection.
McKinley, who has defended his infrastructure vote, is endorsed by Republican West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and, notably, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.
Mooney has been branded by opponents as an outsider to West Virginians.
"Alex Mooney has proven he's all about Alex Mooney," Manchin says in an ad for McKinley, "but West Virginians know that David McKinley is all about us."
Three Republicans are neck-and-neck for the party's gubernatorial nomination to succeed term-limited GOP Gov. Pete Ricketts: businessman Charles Herbster, farmer and University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen and state Sen. Brett Lindstrom.
Trump and Ricketts have competing endorsements in the race, with the governor backing Pillen and Trump throwing his support behind Herbster, a move that fueled party tension and division — and possibly leaves space for Lindstrom to drum up support.
Herbster's campaign was hit last month after eight women told the Nebraska Examiner that he "touched them inappropriately" at various events around the state. Herbster denies the allegations, and Trump is continuing to support him.
Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District
Three-term moderate Republican Rep. Don Bacon is expected to carry his party's primary on Tuesday, despite past calls from Trump for a Republican to challenge him.
While Bacon's chances of retaining his seat in November are probable in what's expected to be a good year for the GOP, his district, which includes Omaha, remains competitive for Democrats. In 2020, before redistricting altered the 2nd district somewhat, Biden won there by 6 percentage points.
On the Democratic side of the race, state Sen. Tony Vargas will square off against mental health clinical supervisor Alisha Shelton.
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