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Analysis: Where Donald Trump went wrong with his 2022 endorsements

But in a few high-profile races, that eagerness to exert his influence over the GOP has backfired.

In a statement, Trump said he was pulling his support from Brooks after the congressman made several comments about wanting to move past the 2020 election, which the former President has continued to falsely claim was rigged.

(Brooks added another layer to the controversy with his own statement, saying Trump pressured him to overturn the 2020 election results and hold a new special election even after Congress had affirmed the results on January 6, 2021. Brooks said he had “repeatedly advised” Trump “that January 6 was the final election contest verdict.”)

Left unsaid in Trump’s statement is that he wanted to save face after it became increasingly clear he had backed the wrong horse way back in April of last year. At that point, the race to replace retiring Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby was still taking shape. Two candidates who have raised more money to date than Brooks, Katie Britt and Mike Durant, were still months away from entering the GOP primary.
It’s not the only instance where a bit more patience may have served Trump well. Last September, he endorsed Army veteran Sean Parnell in the Pennsylvania US Senate race. Not even three months later, Parnell suspended his campaign after a judge awarded his estranged wife custody of their children. Mehmet Oz entered the race roughly a week later, while another current leading contender, David McCormick, announced his candidacy in January.
Trump also, in surprising fashion, endorsed Rep. Ted Budd for a North Carolina US Senate seat in June of last year, rather than waiting to see how the crowded race sorted out. Budd wasn’t able to clear the field, leaving him in a three-way contest with former Gov. Pat McCrory and former Rep. Mark Walker — who even declined an offer from Trump to switch to a House race with his endorsement.
And in Alaska, Kelly Tshibaka hasn’t caught fire after winning the former President’s endorsement last June, as she challenges Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial.

In all of these instances, Trump chose to (quickly) get behind the Republican who he perceived would be his strongest ally — not necessarily who would be the strongest candidate.

Ultimately for Trump, it all comes down to one thing: winning. He wants to keep his (embellished) endorsement record as sterling as possible. That means loyalty is a one-way street, as Brooks learned Wednesday.

The Point: Trump hoped to use these early endorsements to make his control over the GOP clear. Instead, these candidates’ struggles will only further fuel questions over just how powerful the former President’s grip on the party remains.

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