Mike Braun projected to win GOP Senate primary


The nasty GOP race buoyed Democratic confidence that Donnelly could survive.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Republican voters rejected ex-convict Don Blankenship Tuesday in a West Virginia Senate primary in which he sold himself as "Trumpier than Trump" but was vigorously opposed by the president.

Mike Braun, a self-described political outsider, defeated opponents Todd Rokita and Luke Messer to secure a bout with incumbent Joe Donnelly (D) in the general election in November.

The Republican primary race was mostly defined by personal attacks instead of policy differences, as each candidate was anti-abortion, pro-gun rights and pro-Trump.

Four states held primaries Tuesday night, all in states President Trump won in 2016.

However, in March, Messer and Rokita split on the $1.3 trillion budget bill that kept government open. Braun's brother Steve is running for the seat in the former, and Mike Pence's brother Greg is running in the latter. In TV ads, Rokita wears a "Make America Great Again" cap. With 4 6 percent of votes in, Braun has 41 percent, Messer has thirty percent and Rokita has 29 percent.

Messer repeatedly called himself a Trump ally and authored a formal letter nominating the president for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The marquee race for Democrats on Tuesday was the OH gubernatorial primary, where the former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich flopped in a comeback attempt against Richard Cordray, the former head of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB).

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"It's clear [Indiana voters] want a champion for working families in the Senate - one who'll work hard and reach across the aisle to protect their access to affordable health care, defend Medicare and Social Security, and keep good-paying jobs here in Indiana", Donnelly campaign manager Peter Hanscom said in a statement. And Congressman Luke Messer was touting his Indiana Red Republican credentials. Dan Canon, Robert Chatlos and Liz Watson all battled for that nomination in Indiana's 9th District.

Methodist minister-turned-health care company executive Mel Hall will be the Democratic challenger to Walorski for the northern IN congressional seat.

In North Carolina, an incumbent congressman lost his party's nomination for his re-election and in IN two sitting congressmen lost the GOP nod for the Senate to an outsider businessman.

Also in IN, watch the races for the 4th and 6th CDs. Others are intrigued by just how down and dirty the campaign has become with millions of dollars being spent on attack ads.

Braun was elected to the Indiana State House in 2014. He lost his left arm during combat in the Vietnam War. It's a signal the GOP is trying to unify behind their nominee ahead of a pivotal fall campaign against Sen. "But anytime you have a divisive primary, it's going to obviously help Donnelly", Republican Indiana donor Bob Grand said during a recent interview. He'll take on potentially vulnerable Republican incumbent Jackie Walorski.

Three-term Republican Sen. Mike Delph of Carmel survived a tough primary challenge from a former Carmel city official.

Over in IN, an acrimonious three-way race in the GOP Senate primary notable for its Trump lovefest ultimately saw a self-proclaimed "outsider" millionaire businessman nab the win. Christy Stutzman, the wife of former U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, will be the GOP candidate in northern Indiana's Elkhart County.