6 midterm election takeaways: The 'Big Lie' won't die and what Cawthorn's loss means in NC

·5 min read

WASHINGTON – The "Big Lie" that Joe Biden did not win the presidency dominates the 2022 primary elections, nearly two years after the 2020 presidential election.

In a win for former President Donald Trump, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, a retired Army colonel, won the Republican nomination for governor of Pennsylvania on Tuesday night. Mastriano has repeatedly supported Trump's falsehoods about Biden's victory, although he attempted to tone down his rhetoric during a victory speech.

That wasn't Trump's only win.

Republican Rep. Ted Budd won North Carolina’s Senate primary, almost one year after Trump endorsed him. He defeated former Gov. Pat McCrory, whom critics accused of being a "Republican in name only."

Live updates: Cawthorn concedes to Edwards in NC; Fetterman wins Penn. Dem. Senate primary

It was a mixed night for Trump overall, as his highest-profile endorsees lost or faced a too-close-to-call struggle.

An official call has not been made in the highly watched Senate GOP primary in Pennsylvania. Trump backs celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, who is locked in a tight contest with former hedge fund manager David McCormick.

Controversial GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn lost his primary House race in North Carolina.

Here are the top takeaways from the contests in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Kentucky, Idaho and Oregon.

What to know about Tuesday's primaries: Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania, Madison Cawthorn in NC, plus Idaho and more

Rep. Madison Cawthorn loses primary race

Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., heads to a closed intelligence briefing at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on Feb. 3 in Washington.
Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., heads to a closed intelligence briefing at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on Feb. 3 in Washington.

Cawthorn, once a rising star within the GOP, lost his North Carolina House primary race to state Sen. Chuck Edwards. Luke Ball, a spokesperson for Cawthorn’s campaign, confirmed to USA TODAY that Cawthorn conceded before The Associated Press called the race.

"This is simply incredible," Edwards said in a statement. "Against all odds, we fought hard to win this election and provide clear conservative leadership for the mountains."

After a campaign season that involved allegations from Cawthorn that members of Congress indulged in cocaine and orgies, some GOP leaders rallied around Edwards, including Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., who provided an endorsement.

Not even last-minute help from Trump could save Cawthorn.

Trump urged support for Cawthorn, saying he made "foolish mistakes" but voters should "give Madison a second chance!"

Election denier wins Pennsylvania's GOP gubernatorial primary

State Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, a Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, speaks at a primary night election gathering in Chambersburg, Pa., May 17.
State Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, a Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, speaks at a primary night election gathering in Chambersburg, Pa., May 17.

Mastriano defeated several opponents, including former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta and former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, to become the Republican nominee for Pennsylvania governor, despite warnings from some GOP members that he could lose the general election in November because of his extremism.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the Democratic candidate, called Mastriano a "dangerous extremist."

Mastriano was spotted near the U.S. Capitol during the pro-Trump insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021, though he said he never entered the building. Mastriano denied accusations of being too extreme during his victory speech.

"We all love freedom," Mastriano told supporters, saying that people who believe in abortion rights and mask mandates are the real extremists.

In his endorsement of Mastriano, Trump said Mastriano "has been with me right from the beginning, and now I have an obligation to be with him."

Candidates of color make history

Democrat Charles Booker speaks to a group of supporters after his victory in the Kentucky primary in Louisville on May 17.
Democrat Charles Booker speaks to a group of supporters after his victory in the Kentucky primary in Louisville on May 17.

The primaries also saw candidates of color make history.

Former state Rep. Charles Booker became the first Black person in Kentucky to win a Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate – and any statewide office.

“If anybody tells you that ceilings can’t break, tell them: ‘Look at Kentucky,’” he told supporters Tuesday night, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

In Pennsylvania, state Rep. Austin Davis won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. If he wins in the fall, Davis would become Pennsylvania’s first Black lieutenant governor.

It wasn't just men making history.

Oregon state Rep. Andrea Salinas won her House Democratic primary and could become the state's first elected Latina in Congress. Salinas is backed by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus' campaign arm.

Former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley won her Democratic primary race in North Carolina, and if she prevails in November, she would be the state's first Black senator.

The GOP Senate race in Pennsylvania is too close to call

Pennsylvania Senate candidate Mehmet Oz is accompanied by former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Greensburg, Pa., on May 6.
Pennsylvania Senate candidate Mehmet Oz is accompanied by former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Greensburg, Pa., on May 6.

Despite an endorsement from Trump, the Pennsylvania GOP Senate race between Dr. Mehmet Oz and David McCormick remained too close to call Tuesday night.

"Unfortunately, we're not going to have resolution tonight," McCormick told supporters shorty after 11:35 p.m.

"We're not going to have a result tonight," Oz similarly told supporters.

Oz and McCormick were within 0.5% of each other, which could trigger an automatic recount.

Kathy Barnette, a commentator who is popular in conservative media, raced up pre-election polls in the weeks after Trump's endorsement of Oz. She remains in third place.

The Republican nominee winner takes on Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who won the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania.

Trump-backed governor candidate in Idaho defeated

Idaho Gov. Brad Little defeated his challenger on the right in his party's primary.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little defeated his challenger on the right in his party's primary.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little defeated the former president's preferred candidate, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, in the state's GOP gubernatorial primary.

McGeachin gained far-right support throughout the race but could not defeat the more traditional GOP candidate Little. The candidates have been at odds since 2018 when they were elected in separate campaigns.

Little is likely to win the general election in the fall in the safe Republican contest.

J.D. Vance and the power (or not) of Trump's endorsement

Former President Donald Trump has had trouble accepting the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Former President Donald Trump has had trouble accepting the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Trump's endorsement of J.D. Vance propelled the celebrity author to victory in the Ohio GOP Senate nomination this month, but the same cannot be said yet, if at all, for Oz in Pennsylvania.

Donald Trump won Ohio for J.D. Vance: Can he score victories in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia?

Next week's contests in Georgia will again highlight the power and the limits of Trump's control of the GOP. Trump-backed David Perdue lags Gov. Brian Kemp in the GOP gubernatorial primary race.

Kemp campaigned with Trump's vice president, Mike Pence and former GOP New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Primary election takeaways: Pennsylvania results, Trump's impact

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