Trump sway over Republicans up in air after mixed primary results
Donald Trump (AFP)

Is Donald Trump still the ultimate power player in the Republican Party? That question is unanswered after mixed results for candidates endorsed by the former president in key primary elections across the United States.

In the wake of Tuesday's contests to choose candidates to run for Congress or state governorships in November, Trump took to his own Truth Social -- which he launched after being barred from Twitter -- to emphasize the positive.

"A big night for Trump Endorsed candidates last night," he wrote early Wednesday.

Since the start of this month, when primary season kicked into high gear ahead of the crucial midterm elections, in which Republicans are seeking to seize control of Congress from President Joe Biden's Democrats, Team Trump has been riding high.

The vast majority of his candidates, from West Virginia to best-selling author J.D. Vance in Ohio, have won their races.

And on Tuesday, the Trump camp notched some signature wins: his choices earned the Republican nomination for governor in Pennsylvania and the party's Senate nod in North Carolina.

The Pennsylvania candidate, state senator Doug Mastriano, appeared at Trump's now-infamous Stop the Steal rally on January 6, 2021 -- which preceded the deadly Capitol riot by a pro-Trump mob.

But there were setbacks: scandal-plagued Trump darling Madison Cawthorn, 26, conceded defeat in his bid to seek reelection to the House of Representatives in his North Carolina district.

On Wednesday, all eyes were still on the Rust Belt battleground state of Pennsylvania, where television doctor Mehmet Oz -- initially seen as a shoo-in to be the Republican Senate candidate thanks to Trump's backing -- was locked in a nail-biter.

Despite the lack of a final count in the race, Trump weighed in to congratulate Oz, who became famous for his regular appearances on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

"Oz won!" he wrote on Truth Social.

- 'Ultra MAGA' -

Of course, he then covered his bases an hour later, explaining away an eventual loss.

"Remember, all three candidates in Pennsylvania were 'Ultra' MAGA!" he wrote, referring to his trademark Make America Great Again slogan.

Subtext: the billionaire real estate mogul turned populist politician has the party in his grip, for better or worse.

A few minutes later, still without a final result, Trump decries the vote count.

"Here we go again! In Pennsylvania they are unable to count the Mail-In Ballots. It is a BIG MESS," he wrote.

Trump often blamed write-in votes for his loss to Biden in November 2020.

In other primary races, Pennsylvania lieutenant governor John Fetterman -- the tattooed, hoodie and shorts-wearing frontrunner in the race for the Democratic Senate nomination, won despite suffering a stroke just days before the vote.

Fetterman said he had suffered no cognitive damage and was expected to make a full recovery but he remains hospitalized. His camp said Tuesday as the primary was unfolding that he would have a pacemaker implanted.