Is Trump Still the Leader of the Republicans?

Eighteen months after leaving the White House, does Donald Trump still have the power to conduct and cancel elections in the United States? The ex-president’s political clout will be tested in a series of Republican primaries throughout May.

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A dozen U.S. states, starting with Ohio on Tuesday, are organizing primary elections in May to determine who their Republican nominee will be in the midterms, the general election scheduled for November.

These polls will probe the soul of the Republican Party, where a particularly bitter battle is being waged between various hard-right candidates.

Many of them launched the worst abuse to get Donald Trump’s attention and official support.

A sign that he still has a stranglehold on the Republican Party, the former president’s name weaves through election commercials from Pennsylvania to Georgia, via Alabama and North Carolina.

And beware of anyone who doesn’t swear allegiance to Donald Trump.

In Ohio, where we’re voting Tuesday, one of the Republican contenders for the senatorship, JD Vance — author of a best-selling book about America in the grips of deindustrialization that inspired a Netflix production (“An American Ode”) — got it right .

JD Vance

The 37-year-old candidate, once a critic of the Republican billionaire, is now fervently boasting about his perceived closeness to Donald Trump, who has announced his support for the US Senate.

political capital

That didn’t stop the ex-president from scratching the candidate’s name during a campaign session on Saturday…

“We supported JP, didn’t we? JD Mandel,” Mr. Trump told the crowd, appearing to confuse Mr. Vance with his closest rival, Josh Mandel.

Is Trump Still the Leader of the Republicans?

The former president’s endorsement nonetheless proved to be a major boon for JD Vance, who is five points clear of his rivals since his announcement, according to polls.

Then, on May 17, the spotlight shifts to the once-steel-milling state of Pennsylvania, where Donald Trump is backing a former TV star.

Donald Trump’s endorsement of Mehmet Oz – superstar surgeon who has long been at the helm of a hugely popular medical daily show – seems like “Dr. Oz” to overtake his closest rival in the polls, former Treasury official David McCormick.

Mehmed Oz

“The outcome of the primaries will decide whether the Republican base is still Trump’s base,” analyzes Alexander Heffner, a specialist in American politics, with AFP.

miniature crucible

This will be particularly critical in Georgia, a miniature melting pot of debates that will enliven the United States in the coming months.

The southeastern US state, best known for its capital, Atlanta, is both at the center of a bitter struggle for African American voting access and at the epicenter of a disinformation campaign about voter fraud.

Donald Trump has repeatedly scolded Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, a candidate for his re-election, for confirming the results of the 2020 presidential election, in which he was defeated by Joe Biden.

The former White House renter instead supports former Senator David Perdue, who regularly makes foot calls to Donald Trump supporters, perpetuating the idea that the presidential election was “stolen” from him – a thesis repeatedly denied, but still believed by millions of Americans.

David Perdue

After May’s ordeal, Donald Trump’s influence will be tested further in a new August primary when one of his favorite congressional candidates, Republican-elect Liz Cheney, faces a former president-backed candidate.

An unfavorable outcome of these elections could cost Donald Trump dearly, who is increasingly openly flirting with the idea of ​​a presidential candidacy in 2024.

“If Trump-backed candidates don’t perform as expected,” warns Alexander Heffner, “the road to the 2024 presidential race will be different.”

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