Trump's kingmaker status faces test in Nebraska and West Virginia primaries

Republicans to select their candidates for US midterm elections

Former US president Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a rally for farming executive Charles Herbster running in the Nebraska gubernatorial race. AP

Voters in the US states of Nebraska and West Virginia pick their candidates for November's midterm election on Tuesday, in another test of former president Donald Trump's sway with Republicans.

Tuesday's primaries come a week after Hillbilly Elegy author and Trump-backed candidate JD Vance defeated six other Republican candidates for the US Senate race in Ohio.

In Nebraska, Mr Trump has backed multimillionaire farming executive Charles Herbster, who is accused of sexually assaulting eight women. State senator Julie Slama told The Nebraska Examiner last month that Mr Herbster sexually assaulted her in 2019, while the other seven women made accusations anonymously.

Mr Herbster denies the allegations but is facing a backlash from conservatives in the state, where he is vying to be the next governor.

“He's been badly maligned and it's a shame. That's why I came out here,” the former president said of Mr Herbster at a rally earlier in May.

“I defend people when I know they're good. He's a good man.”

Nebraska could be the first place where a Trump candidate is rejected, after the 55 candidates he endorsed in Texas, Indiana and Ohio all won their races or advanced to run-off elections.

The second may be in Georgia's gubernatorial race, where Trump-endorsed candidate David Perdue has fallen behind incumbent Brian Kemp.

Voters will also pick nominees for Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District in the Omaha area. Three-term Republican Republican Don Bacon faces a long-shot challenge from Steve Kuehl, a consultant who received a shoutout from Mr Trump when the former president visited earlier this month.

Mr Trump blasted Mr Bacon as a “bad guy” during the recent rally in the state and previously criticised him for his support of a federal infrastructure bill that most Republicans opposed.

Mr Bacon also has been mildly critical of Mr Trump in the past, saying the former president bore some responsibility for the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.

In West Virginia, voters will decide between Dave McKinley and Trump-backed Alex Mooney for seats in the House of Representatives. Mr McKinley faced the former president's ire for backing the bipartisan infrastructure deal last year and for his support for the creation of the January 6 commission.

Mr McKinley is backed by Republican Governor Jim Justice and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who strongly backed the infrastructure bill.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: May 10, 2022, 8:01 PM
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