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‘The battle for party control’: Republican candidates nationwide test the value


  • Some Republican candidates are running in primaries against candidates endorsed by Donald Trump.
  • The value of Trump’s endorsement will be tested in states like N.C., Ohio, Texas and Alabama.
  • Trump and some allies say his endorsement is the most valuable commodity in politics.
  • Other Republicans said Trump’s endorsement is valuable, but not necessarily decisive.

Corrections & clarifications: This story has been updated to remove an incorrect reference to Trump’s endorsement in the 2017 Alabama Senate primary.

DALLAS – Donald Trump says his endorsement is the most valuable commodity in Republican politics, but some GOP candidates seem willing to test that claim.

As conservative activists gathered over the weekend in Texas, the state’s outgoing Republican Party chairman, Allen West, announced he will challenge incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott in a primary next year, even though Abbott has the coveted Trump endorsement.

Beyond Texas, the value of Trump’s endorsement will be tested in North Carolina, Alabama and other states with competitive Republican primaries in which the former president has picked a candidate.

Some delegates to the Conservative Political Action Conference at a high-end Dallas hotel said they respect Trump, but he won’t necessarily determine their vote in elections.

“It’s a factor, but I don’t know if it’s going to be the decisive factor,” said Deb Blencowe, 63, a community college teacher from nearby Collin County who leans toward West over Abbott in next year’s GOP primary.

Michael Ward, 24, a meter reader technician from Henderson County, said Trump will be very influential in elections, but that doesn’t mean nonendorsed Republican candidates should give up.

“It’s definitely a challenge to beat a Trump endorsement,” Ward said. “But that does not mean another candidate cannot be a challenger.”

Testing Trump’s influence

Trump put his influence on the line by backing primary challengers to Republicans who supported impeaching him over the insurrection by his supporters Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol, or otherwise opposed his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden.

At CPAC, Donald Trump targets the Republican Party of Liz Cheney and Mitch McConnell

‘His presence is dominating’: How state and local Republican parties are turning ever more toward Trump

The former president discussed his 2022 campaign plans in a 90-minute address Sunday to CPAC, predicting Republicans will win back Congress thanks to him.

In an address that touched on familiar themes, particularly his false claims about election fraud in 2020, Trump told adoring delegates that “our endorsement has become – and it’s really not just my endorsement, it’s your endorsement – has become the most powerful weapon in politics.”

The 45th president remains popular with Republican base voters who show up for primaries, political analysts said. Trump easily won a 2024 presidential preference poll at this weekend’s CPAC, topping Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis 70%-21%.

His endorsements will affect different races in different ways, and it’s not known how strong the Trump brand will be when elections roll around over the next year and a half.

“I think the Trump endorsement is helpful but not determinative,” said Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Ethics and Public Policy Center.

West, who spoke at CPAC on Sunday and received a warm welcome, is a decided underdog in his bid to unseat Abbott. He has said that although he supports Trump, “I don’t serve President Trump,” whose endorsement doesn’t decide anything.

“I serve God, country and Texas,” West…

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