Politics

The 'big lie' looms on Tuesday's primaries in Nevada and South Carolina

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(WASHINGTON) — As the House Jan. 6 committee’s latest hearings ramp up, they overlap with a set of primary races on Tuesday featuring a slate of Donald Trump-endorsed candidates who support the same “big lie” about the 2020 election that investigators say fueled last year’s insurrection at the Capitol.

The first primary held during the much-watched investigation into last year’s pro-Trump rioting will feature races for Senate, House and gubernatorial seats in Nevada, South Carolina, North Dakota and Maine. Texas will hold a special election for its 34th Congressional District seat.

Many of the races in Nevada include candidates that support the former president’s evidence-free claims that the 2020 election was stolen, while two House candidates in South Carolina who were critical of Trump’s role in Jan. 6 or supportive of his impeachment afterward are now up for competitive races against targeted, Trump-endorsed opponents.

The leading candidate in the Nevada GOP Senate primary is the state’s former Attorney General Adam Laxalt, a fervent supporter of Trump. In 2020, he chaired Trump’s reelection campaign in the state and supported Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election.

Laxalt hails from a political dynasty. His grandfather Paul Laxalt served as a senator for Nevada and his father, Pete Domenici, was New Mexico’s longest-serving senator.

Some of the issues Laxalt is running on include stronger southern border policies, protecting the Second Amendment and changing how elections are conducted — echoing many other conservatives running at the local level who, like Trump, baselessly claim that there is widespread election fraud that needs to be addressed.

Laxalt has not only secured an endorsement from Trump but from other 2024 presidential hopefuls, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton.

But Laxalt still faces some competition in the primary as Sam Brown, a veteran and businessman, has been rising in the polls. In addition, there is frustration with voters in the silver state who believe Laxalt is too close to the Republican establishment.

While serving in Afghanistan as an ​​Army infantry lieutenant, Brown was wounded by a roadside bomb attack and was sent to Texas to recover from his severe burn injuries.

If Brown does pull off a win on Tuesday, it would be a political upset.

Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto does not face any serious challengers in her primary, but it’s the general election that will test the support she has within Nevada as voters grow frustrated with the first-termer over economic challenges in a tourist-driven state hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent fallout, including rising inflation.

Meanwhile, in the primary races for the House, although it’s expected that all three of Nevada’s incumbent Democrats will survive, the general election may give them all cause for worry. Their seats have been rated as toss-ups by the Cook Political Report.

Most in danger is Rep. Dina Titus, who said she got “f—–” by the state legislature on how they drew her district.

As for Nevada’s gubernatorial race, all eyes will be on the GOP primary, where Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo is leading the very crowded field. Lombardo — who has plenty of name recognition around the state’s most populated area, Las Vegas — has received an endorsement from Trump.

Nevada’s governor race later this year could potentially be a referendum on incumbent Democrat Steve Sisolak, who has had a somewhat difficult first term. Sisolak had to navigate the onset of COVID, which caused Nevada’s tourism-based economy to suffer.

Meanwhile, the GOP primary for secretary of state is drawing attention to Jim Marchant, the leading GOP candidate in the race who has falsely claimed that Trump won the 2020 election. Marchant’s candidacy is an example of a national trend involving supporters of the “big lie” who are running for offices like secretary of state in order to influence how elections are conducted.

If Marchant wins his primary, he will most likely face off against Cisco Aguilar in November.

On Tuesday in South Carolina, incumbent Republican Reps. Nancy Mace and Tim Rice are the two main objects of Trump’s rage after having denounced him in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack.

They’re now up against Trump-endorsed opponents for races the former president has called “two of the most critical primary elections in the country.”

Mace, the freshman congresswoman who just days into her term condemned Trump’s claims about his election being stolen, is being challenged by cybersecurity analyst and former state Rep. Katie Arrington, whom Trump called a “true Republican.”

“I am trying to communicate to my colleagues in Congress that rhetoric has real consequences.” Mace said on ABC News Live on Jan. 6, 2021.

“And in fact, when I came up for this weekend with my children for my swearing in, I actually put them on the first plane home on Monday morning because I was worried about what might happen today because of the rhetoric we’ve been hearing,” she said then.

Mace, running in the state’s 1st District seat, is endorsed by former Trump ambassador and two-term South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. Tuesday’s primary may put Haley — a rumored 2024 presidential hopeful — to the test against Trump.

A third candidate on the ballot, Lynz Piper-Loomis, makes a runoff in this race more possible if no candidate receives 50% of the vote.

In South Carolina’s 7th Congressional District, state Rep. Russell Fry has earned the endorsement of Trump against five term Rep. Rice, who has consistently defended his post-Jan. 6 impeachment vote and condemnation of Trump’s role in the insurrection.

Rice’s break with Trump is notable as his district has displayed staunch support for the former president: It voted for Trump by a 19-point margin in 2020.

The special election for Texas’ 34th District seat has been a study in the kinds of races national Democrats and Republicans may deem as winnable — all in a contest to serve just six months in an area carved up by redistricting anyway.

Voters there will head to the polls for a third time this election season to cast a ballot for a short-term representative; this race is separate from the one being decided in November’s general election contest.

The messy electoral timeline was caused by former Rep. Filemon Vela’s decision to resign in March in order to work in the private sector after the Democratic lawmaker already announced he would not seek reelection the year before.

The situation creates a sped-up political calendar for candidates already in the running, while also offering Republicans the opportunity to flex their growing popularity in the heavily Latino area. Meanwhile, national GOP groups appear to be going all-in on the possibility of upending Democrats’ head start ahead of the general election and are pouring money into the race.

National Democrats have largely steered clear of the special election, while Republicans have poured money into the race — just last month spending more than $1 million.

“A Democrat will represent TX-34 in January,” Monica Robinson, a spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement to the Texas Tribune. “If Republicans spend money on a seat that is out of their reach in November, great.”

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