Most House Republicans who backed Trump challengers cruised to primary victories – The Washington Post

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Few House Republicans went against Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential primaries and endorsed one of his challengers. But among those who did and sought reelection, almost all have evaded competitive primaries of their own — or, in some cases, any opposition whatsoever.

The results belie the narrative that crossing the famously vindictive Trump can be a political death wish for members of Congress. But the races also played out during a presidential election year in which Trump needs a unified GOP in his rematch against President Biden and may be more preoccupied with his own race and four criminal cases.

Last week, two House Republicans who had endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) against Trump — Reps. Thomas Massie (Ky.) and Rich McCormick (Ga.) — cruised through their primaries. Massie defeated two challengers with over three-quarters of the vote, while McCormick was unopposed — and even got Trump’s endorsement two days before.

“Ultimately for me, I think it didn’t make a lot of difference, and in fact it may have helped me to have campaigned with Ron DeSantis and gone on national TV for him,” Massie said in an interview, saying he gained new donors aligned with DeSantis and “engendered some goodwill with some of my constituents who are Never Trumpers.”


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Most of the House Republicans quickly endorsed Trump after DeSantis or Haley dropped out. McCormick threw his support to Trump days after DeSantis ended his campaign, and while Massie has not formally backed Trump, he expects to be a delegate for him at the national convention.

Trump’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

The lack of primary competition is not for a lack of trying by Trump, either implicitly or explicitly. In some cases, he withheld reelection endorsements for House Republicans who endorsed DeSantis or Haley as he backed other GOP members from their states.

He publicly called for primary challengers to Rep. Chip Roy (Tex.) in December as Roy was making trips to Iowa for DeSantis. But the Texas filing deadline had passed a week earlier, and Roy was unopposed.

More recently, Trump issued a request for primary opponents to another DeSantis backer, Rep. Laurel Lee (Fla.), but the state’s candidate filing deadline passed last month without any high-profile names stepping forward.

Rep. Tom McClintock (Calif.), who also backed DeSantis, faced no GOP opposition in California’s nonpartisan March primary. And Rep. Ralph Norman, the only House Republican to endorse Haley, has not drawn any opposition in South Carolina’s June 11 primary.

The lone exception to the trend appears to be Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), who is in a fierce June 11 primary against a challenger, John McGuire, who has attacked him as a “Never Trumper” for backing DeSantis before Trump. Trump endorsed McGuire on Tuesday, saying Good “turned his back on our incredible movement” and was too late to fall in line behind the former president.

Good’s predicament is unique, however. He has also drawn the ire of former House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — whom he helped oust last year along with seven other Republicans — as well as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a vocal Trump ally who has said Good “betrayed” the former president.

Trump’s penchant for political retribution is well-known. Of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, just two are still in office — and Trump is backing a primary challenger to one of them, Rep. Dan Newhouse (Wash.).

Some of the House Republicans who endorsed Trump’s primary opponents took highly public roles with their campaigns. Norman introduced Haley at her campaign kickoff, and in addition to Roy, Massie and McCormick went to Iowa to campaign for DeSantis.

Lee’s support for DeSantis also stood out. A former secretary of state appointed by DeSantis, she was the only House Republican from Florida to endorse him.

Trump took to his Truth Social platform in late March to ask if “any great MAGA Republicans” were willing to challenge Lee, and if so, to “PLEASE STEP FORWARD.” Massie came to Lee’s defense, saying on X that more Republicans should denounce Trump’s “ridiculous bullying tactics.”

Lee ended up drawing two primary opponents: James Judge, who ran unsuccessfully for another Florida House seat in 2022, and Jennifer Barbosa, who ran for Congress in California as an independent in 2020 and got 6 percent of the vote.

Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio — a possible Trump running mate — endorsed Lee for reelection earlier this month.

“The Congresswoman greatly respects President Trump and supports his re-election fully,” Lee campaign spokesperson Sarah Bascom said in a statement. “We are focused on the Congresswoman’s re-election and supporting President Trump defeating Joe Biden.”

As for Norman, he said his “deep red track record” in a deep-red district was more important in his primary than his Haley backing.

“Almost every endorsement, regardless of the race or candidate, will churn up a few vocal individuals who threaten primary challenges,” Norman said in a statement. “However, a primary challenger needs more to run on than simply who his opponent endorsed.”

Rob Godfrey, a South Carolina Republican consultant who once worked for Norman, said one reason why Norman endorsed Haley is because they have a long-standing relationship and felt a loyalty to her that is the “kind of thing that President Trump and his team understand better than anything else.”

“At the end of the day, if you’re looking for people to challenge, Ralph Norman’s just not worth the time because he’s popular in his district and he’s somebody you’re going to be able to count on if you’re President Trump if you’re elected president again,” Godfrey said.

Norman was part of a group of House Republicans who traveled to New York earlier this month to show support for Trump during his hush money trial. Good was also in the group, but McGuire went separately the same day.

Eric Deters, one of Massie’s primary challengers last week, said Trump’s endorsement “means everything” but also said he understood the former president has to be discerning.

“In my race even if I had his endorsement I may not have won because Massie is pretty safe,” Deters wrote in an email. “I was pleased he did not endorse Massie knowing he would probably win.”

Massie has not formally endorsed Trump for president yet, but he downplayed any lingering tension. He has been elected to be a delegate from Kentucky to the national GOP convention where Trump is set to be formally nominated.

“Obviously I hope he beats Joe Biden,” Massie said, “and I’ll almost certainly be a delegate for him.”

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