Sunday, February 5

More tests for Trump’s influence in the GOP

Former President Donald Trump’s picks swept the primaries last week in Ohio, but this week’s contests will be another test of his influence – especially when the candidate is tainted by scandal.

In the primary for the GOP nomination in the Nebraska governor’s race, Trump has endorsed longtime ally Charles Herbster, who has been accused of groping by multiple women, including two who have spoken of their experiences openly.  

Herbster has denied the allegations, and his campaign manager told The Nebraska Examiner, which first reported the allegations, that it was “a political hit-piece built on 100% false and baseless claims.”

At a rally last week in Nebraska, Trump called Herbster a “good man.” 

“He’s been badly maligned, and it’s a shame,” Trump said of Herbster. “I defend people when I know they’re good.”

Former President Trump Rallies Supporters In Nebraska
Campaign posters supporting Nebraska candidate for governor Charles Herbster decorate the grounds of the I-80 Speedway prior to the start of a rally with former President Donald Trump on May 01, 2022 in Greenwood, Nebraska. 

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Herbster is facing two opponents: state Senator Brett Lindstrom and businessman and University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen, who has the endorsement of the influential current Republican governor, Pete Ricketts, and longtime Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne.

Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen told CBS Omaha affiliate KMTV that he projects a 35% statewide turnout Tuesday, which would be the highest since 2006.

Nebraska voters will also be choosing a nominees for the congressional seat formerly occupied by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who resigned in March after he was convicted of lying to federal authorities about an illegal campaign donation from a foreign national. State Sen. Mike Flood, who has received endorsements from Ricketts and former Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, and Democrat state Senator Patty Pansing Brooks are also running in a separate race on June 28 to fill out the remainder of Fortenberry’s term. 

In West Virginia, redistricting has cost the state a congressional seat, so two Republican incumbents are duking it out in the state’s 2nd Congressional District. Rep. David McKinley, a six-term Republican congressman and seventh-generation West Virginian, is backed by popular Governor Jim Justice and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. But McKinley voted for the bipartisan infrastructure package and Trump, who won every county in the state in 2020, has backed Rep. Alex Mooney. 

A poll released Friday by MetroNews West Virginia shows Mooney leading McKinley by 15 points among likely voters. 

Scott MacFarlane and Sarah Ewall-Wice contributed to this report. 

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