Former President Donald Trump showed again that his endorsements are game-changers in GOP primaries, scoring big wins in Connecticut and Wisconsin.
Also in Tuesday’s primaries, Rep. Ilhan Omar, a member of the ultra-liberal “squad” in the U.S. House, nearly lost her seat to a pro-police Democrat in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District.
In Connecticut, Cuban-born Leora Levy, who was endorsed by Mr. Trump a week ago, beat polling and predictions by defeating her moderate Republican opponent, Themis Klarides, in the GOP Senate primary.
With 99% of the vote counted Wednesday, Ms. Levy received 51%. Ms. Klarides, a former state House minority leader who had the backing of the state party, received 40%, and immigration lawyer Peter Lumaj had 9%.
Mr. Trump held a tele-rally for tens of thousands of Connecticut voters on the eve of the election, and delivered a robocall for Ms. Levy on Election Day.
“We’re making history here,” Ms. Levy said in her victory speech. “Thank you, President Trump, for your strong, clear, unequivocal endorsement. I will not let you down.”
Ms. Levy is a Republican National Committee member whom Mr. Trump nominated to be U.S. ambassador to Chile, though she was never confirmed.
In November she will face two-term Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who has a campaign war chest of $8 million and has never lost an election in his 37-year career. Mr. Blumenthal is a vitriolic foe of Mr. Trump.
“Here in Connecticut, Dick Blumenthal is Joe Biden,” Ms. Levy told supporters. “Dick Blumenthal supported defunding the police.”
Mr. Trump has said that Ms. Levy “will defeat the corrupt Richard Blumenthal in November, and what a victory that will be.”
Mr. Lumaj called the primary results “a huge victory for President Trump in our state.”
“The target remains Blumenthal and the failed liberal policies,” he said. “Obviously, the endorsement by [Mr. Trump] changed the political landscape in our state.”
Larraine Rubacha, a prominent Klarides supporter, told the Hartford Courant she was stunned by Ms. Levy’s win.
“I’m heartbroken,” she said. “I never saw this coming, it’s shocking … The Trump factor must have played a large role, but who saw this coming in Connecticut? Not me and not anyone I know.”
In Wisconsin, Mr. Trump’s endorsed candidate, construction company owner Tim Michels, beat GOP establishment candidate Rebecca Kleefisch in the Republican primary for governor.
With 98% of the vote counted Wednesday, Mr. Michels had 47.1%. Ms. Kleefisch, a former lieutenant governor who was endorsed by former Vice President Mike Pence, had 42%.
Mr. Michels’ construction company was awarded a contract for the Keystone XL pipeline during the Trump administration, but the work was stopped when President Biden canceled the project in early 2021.
Mr. Trump did fail in his bid to take down Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who narrowly defeated Trump-endorsed challenger Adam Steen. Mr. Trump had repeatedly criticized Mr. Vos, the state’s longest-serving speaker, for failing to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin.
In Minnesota, Mr. Trump scored another win with his endorsement of Republican Secretary of State candidate Kim Crockett, who has said that the 2020 election was rigged.
And Ms. Omar, who was first elected in 2018 and has become nationally recognized as one of several ultra-liberal Democratic lawmakers, narrowly won her primary against moderate Democrat Don Samuels by a margin of 50.4% to 48.2%.
Supporters of Mr. Samuels said they were unhappy with Ms. Omar’s vote against President Biden’s infrastructure bill and her failed proposal to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new “Department of Public Safety.”
The district is heavily Democratic and it is uncertain whether Ms. Omar’s narrow escape in her party’s primary signals general vulnerability, or a race-defining weakness on the crime issue when running against Republican Cicely Davis in November.