US election

US primaries set fresh test of Trump’s popularity

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Voters in the US states of Nebraska and West Virginia pick their candidates for November’s midterm election on Tuesday, in another test of former president Donald Trump’s sway with Republicans.

As with last week’s Ohio nominating contest – known in the United States as a “primary” – the intrigue is mostly on the Republican side.

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In Nebraska, Trump has backed multimillionaire farming executive Charles Herbster, who is accused of sexually assaulting eight women.

The 67-year-old denies the allegations but faces a backlash from conservatives in the state, where he is vying to be the next governor.

“He’s been badly maligned, and it’s a shame. That’s why I came out here,” the former president said of Herbster at a rally earlier in May.

“I defend people when I know they’re good. He’s a good man.”

Nebraska could be the first place where a Trump candidate is rejected, after the 55 candidates he endorsed in Texas, Indiana and Ohio all won their races or advanced to runoff elections.

A WPA Intelligence poll conducted between April 30 and May 2 shows Herbster five points behind Jim Pillen, who is endorsed by the state’s term-limited Republican governor, Pete Ricketts.

West Virginians will decide between congressmen Alex Mooney – who has Trump’s support – and Dave McKinley, who angered the Republican leader by backing a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package signed into law last year.

McKinley crossed another red line for Trump on his support for the creation of a commission to investigate the 2021 US Capitol riot, over which the former president was impeached.

The candidates – both current US representatives – were forced into the tussle in a newly-drawn district after West Virginia lost a House seat.

McKinley is backed by Republican Governor Jim Justice and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who strongly backed the infrastructure bill.

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