According to a report from WRAL, Donald Trump's rally in Selma, North Carolina on Saturday night will be a test of his influence when he tries to promote the candidacies of possible November nominees who are opposed by local Republicans skeptical of their chances of winning in the general election.
The twice-impeached former president is expected to attempt to bolster the campaign of 26-year-old former college football player Bo Hines, who has yet to move into the district he would be representing, as well as Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R) who has angered Republicans in his home state as well as nationally with his shenanigans.
According to WRAL's Bryan Anderson, "The candidates Trump supports represent a wing of the party that is further right ideologically, and in some cases, heavily opposed by veteran politicians," adding, "While Trump is backing Cawthorn, three of the state’s top lawmakers—Moore, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis and state Senate leader Phil Berger — have thrown their support to Cawthorn’s top primary competitor, state Sen. Chuck Edwards."
Anderson added, "It’s unusual for leaders of a party to support an opponent of an incumbent from their own party, let alone one backed by a former president. But the contest underscores tension between hardline conservative newcomers and the state’s political establishment."
Chris Cooper, a Western Carolina University political scientist, explained the former president is "... still the de facto leader of the Republican Party. I think you certainly see that in polling, but local roots can matter.”
While Cawthorn, who will speak on Saturday, has the power of incumbency on his side, Hines will need all the support Trump can muster up for him.
"Trump’s endorsement of Hines and more than $1.3 million in ads placed by Club for Growth Action this week will prove helpful, said Cooper, the Western Carolina political scientist. But he also views Hines as the most vulnerable Trump-backed North Carolina candidate this election cycle because of the limited time the candidate has spent in the district," the report states. "Former U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers and lawyer Kelly Daughtry, the daughter of former state Rep. Leo Daughtry, are widely seen as Hines’ top opponents. Republicans DeVan Barbour, Kent Keirsey, Jessica Morel, Chad Slotta and Kevin Alan Wolff are also running."
WRAL's Anderson added, "While a Trump endorsement may be the most coveted one for North Carolina Republicans, it hasn’t always led to success. In 2016, Trump backed U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers over fellow GOP incumbent George Holding. Ellmers lost by 30 percentage points. Ellmers, who is running against Hines in the 13th Congressional District, said in an interview at a Wake County GOP event last month that voters should keep in mind Trump’s track record of backing candidates who lost."
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