Why Trump’s Putting His Brand At STAKE…

Former President Donald Trump had an unblemished winning record last week: all 22 candidates that he endorsed in Indiana and Ohio won their Republican primaries.

The dirty little secret is that he padded his numbers by endorsing lots of incumbents who had no opponents, or who faced political nobodies. Still, there’s little doubt that the May 3 primaries were a Trump flex: In the most closely watched race of the day, the former president spent real political capital and powered J.D. Vance to the GOP nomination in a crowded Ohio Senate field.

Now comes Trump’s next test. He’s taken sides in the two biggest contests in the ballot Tuesday in West Virginia and Nebraska. The former president gave his blessing to Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) over Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) in a face-off between two Republican House incumbents. And in Nebraska, Trump backed agribusiness owner Charles Herbster — and remained steadfast in his support despite the recent revelation that eight different women accused Herbster of sexual assault.

We’ve asked six of our top political reporters to outline the biggest races on the May 10 ballot and explain the stakes for Trump today. Here’s what they had to say.

1. What are you watching for today?

ALLY MUTNICK, CAMPAIGN REPORTER: I think the member-vs-member primary in West Virginia between McKinley and Mooney is the most interesting one of the cycle. No matter who wins on Tuesday, some big rule of politics will be broken. Either Trump’s endorsed candidate (Mooney) loses, or he wins despite voting against bringing millions of federal dollars to rebuild the state’s crumbling infrastructure.

ALEX ISENSTADT, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I’m looking to see how Herbster fares in the Nebraska governor’s race. Trump has gone in big for Herbster, flying in to host a rally for him and holding a conference call on his behalf. But it’s a risk for Trump: Herbster has been accused of sexual assault by eight women, and if he falls short it would mark one of the first major defeats for Trump in a Republican primary.

ZACH MONTELLARO, STATE POLITICS REPORTER: The big statewide race today is in Nebraska, where Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts is term-limited. The race has been a proxy battle between former President Donald Trump and the outgoing governor, who have endorsed candidates on opposite sides in this contest. Trump is backing longtime ally Herbster — memorably described in a POLITICO headline as a “bull semen baron” — while Ricketts is behind Jim Pillen, a member of the University of Nebraska board of regents. Those two men, alongside state Sen. Brett Lindstrom, are all viable candidates to win the party’s nomination (and effectively the governorship, because solid-red Nebraska won’t be competitive in November.).

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