Trump suffers another surprise primary blow as MAGA candidate defeated in New Jersey

Real estate developer Curtis Bashaw is predicted to secure the nomination

Martha McHardy
Wednesday 05 June 2024 16:44 BST
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Trump makes history as first criminally convicted former US president

Trump-endorsed MAGA candidate Serrano Glassner is set to lose the GOP nomination for the New Jersey Senate race, according a projection from the Associated Press, in another setback to the former president.

Real estate developer Curtis Bashaw is predicted to secure the nomination, meaning he will compete for the seat which has been held by Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, who is embroiled in a federal corruption case in which he is facing charges of bribery and other offenses.

The incumbent chose not to run for the Democratic nomination following the indictment against him and widespread calls within his party to resign, but he officially launched an independent bid for the seat on Monday. He denies all allegations of wrongdoing.

Republicans hope Menendez’s candidacy could split the vote in the solidly blue state, putting the seat more in play despite no Republican being elected to the Senate from New Jersey in more than 50 years.

Rep Andy Kim won the Democratic nomination to compete for the seat in a landslide victory on Tuesday

As of Wednesday morning, Bashaw had 45 per cent of the vote in the GOP race, while Glasser had 38 per cent. Two other candidates, former Tabernacle Committeeman Justin Murphy and US Navy veteran Albert Harshaw, had 11 per cent and five per cent, respectively.

While Glassner had the support of Donald Trump, Bashaw had the support of most of the county Republican parties in the state, which are particularly influential in New Jersey, meaning he secured the county line in a majority of the counties in the state.

Christine Serrano-Glassner was defeated in the New Jersey GOP Senate primary
Christine Serrano-Glassner was defeated in the New Jersey GOP Senate primary (Fox News)

The state has for decades used a ballot organization system known as the county line in which candidates who receive the county endorsement are given the most optimal positioning on the ballot.

This means Bashaw had the preferred ballot spot in the same column as Trump.

Despite having institutional support from the state Republican party, Trump dismissed Bashaw as “a Christie person,” referencing New Jersey’s former Governor, Chris Christie, a one-time ally of the former president who has since fallen out with him. Trump instead opted to endorse Glassner at a rally on 11 May, reshaping the race. Glassner’s husband, Michael Glassner, is a longtime Trump campaign aide.

After Trump’s endorsement, a whole host of other MAGA-affiliated figures from around the country, among them several sitting senators, added their names to Serrano Glassner’s endorsement list.

But Glassner ultimately failed to secure the nomination.

“I want to thank all those New Jerseyans who voted for me and supported me throughout this primary campaign. While we did not achieve the outcome we had sought, I am grateful to those who joined me on this journey and who are ready for commonsense solutions to save America. I look forward to supporting President Trump and America First candidates in the election this November and ensuring that we elect officials with integrity who stand for the hard-working men and women of New Jersey,” Glassner said following her defeat.

The primary result comes as another blow to Donald Trump, who last week became the first former US president to be criminally convicted in his hush money trial.

Amid his conviction, some political observers had wondered if Republican voters might sour on Trump’s divisive candidacy.

The former president has already suffered unexpected setbacks in other Republican primary races, including in Indiana, where Nikki Haley picked up more 20 per cent of the vote, despite having already dropped out of the race in a blaze of publicity.

Haley suspended her campaign following the Super Tuesday primary results in early March, saying it was up to Trump “to earn the votes of those in our party and beyond it who did not support him”.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has made explicit overtures to her voters.

“Donald Trump made it clear he doesn’t want Nikki Haley’s supporters,” he said when she dropped out of the race.

A few weeks later, his campaign spent $1m on an advert showing clips of Trump attacking Haley and her supporters, which ran for three weeks across battleground states.

One of those states was Pennsylvania where, in last month’s primary, Haley won 16.6 per cent of the vote to Trump’s 83.4 per cent.

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