The 2022 midterm primary elections in West Virginia and Nebraska were seen as two more tests of former President Donald Trump’s influence over the Republican party. Tuesday night’s results proved to be a mixed bag for the former president.
In perhaps the most watched primary race Tuesday night, University of Nebraska regent Jim Pillen won the Republican nomination in the state’s upcoming gubernatorial election. According to Nebraska’s elections website, Pillen took in 33.87% of the vote, beating out businessman Charles Herbster (30.23%) and State Sen. Brett Lindstrom (25.76%).
“Thank you Nebraska. You made this possible,” Pillen tweeted late Tuesday night. “Tonight, we will celebrate a great victory. Tomorrow, it’s back to work in the fight to keep Nebraska great.”
Trump had backed Herbster in the race, even making a trip to Nebraska to stump for him last month. Pillen was endorsed by many top GOP leaders in the state, including outgoing Gov. Pete Ricketts, former Gov. Kay Orr, and renowned former University of Nebraska football coach and congressman Tom Osborne.
Trump earned a big win in West Virginia. Rep. Alex Mooney beat fellow incumbent Rep. David McKinley in West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District Republican primary. The race wasn’t particularly close, with Rep. Mooney pulling in 54.21% of the votes compared to Rep. McKinley’s 35.62%, according to the state’s elections website.
“The voters of West Virginia spoke loud and clear tonight,” Mooney said in his victory speech Tuesday night. “Tonight should be a wake up call to all liberals in either party who spend our nation into over 30 trillion of debt while shutting down lending. Businesses and states like West Virginia mountaineers are far worse off under the presidency of Joe Biden.”
Trump had criticized McKinley for breaking with his party as one of 13 Republicans to vote with the Democrats to support President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. Trump called McKinley a RINO, or “Republican in Name Only,” and endorsed Mooney the day Biden signed the bill into law.
“I also want to thank President Donald Trump for his endorsement and support of my campaign. When Donald Trump puts his mind is something you better watch out,” Mooney said Tuesday night. “Donald Trump loves West Virginia and West Virginia loves Donald Trump.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.