Libertarian-leaning Rep. Thomas Massie (R–Ky.) has crushed his opponent in the Republican primary for the Northern Kentucky seat he’s represented since 2012. It was one of two notable victories for GOP primary candidates against more overtly Trump-aligned challengers.
By early evening, Massie had wracked up 88 percent of the unofficial vote against Todd McMurtry, a lawyer who represented Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann in his lawsuit against media outlets. The official results won’t be released until June 30, when election officials have had enough time to count mail-in ballots.
Massie’s libertarian streak and willingness to buck Republican leadership have earned him explicit rebukes from President Donald Trump in recent months, something McMurtry did his best to capitalize on.
Big statement win for #KY04 Rep. Thomas Massie (R) after the president called for him to be “thrown out of the Republican Party” back in March.
Massie beat attorney Todd McMurtry (R) 88%-12% after multiple House Rs repudiated McMurtry over unearthed racist tweets.
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) June 24, 2020
When Massie held up the passage of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March—insisting that the pricey legislation receive a roll call vote—Trump called him a “disaster for America” on Twitter, and demanded his expulsion from the Republican Party.
Massie, in turn, made much of McMurtry’s own social media activity. The lawyer had made several comments that were critical Trump. He’d also approvingly tweeted out a blog post primer on the alt-right and called for resistance to the “demonization of white people.”
Those posts saw several Republican House members withdraw their endorsement of McMurtry, and cleared the way for Massie’s victory.
Former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath is also leading in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate Democratic primary against progressive challenger Charles Booker. Provided she maintains her lead once all the mail-in ballots are counted, she’ll go on to face incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell (R–Ky), who also won his primary tonight.
Trump’s endorsement of businesswoman Lynda Bennett also failed to prevent her stunning loss tonight to 24-year-old real estate investor and motivational speaker Madison Cawthorn in the Republican primary for North Carolina’s 11th congressional district.
That seat was vacated earlier this year when former Rep. Mark Meadows (R–N.C.), one-time head of the House Freedom Caucus, resigned to take up the position as Trump’s chief of staff. Despite endorsements from Trump, Meadows, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Texas), Bennett received 35 percent of the vote in the two-person run-off election.
According to the Charlotte Observer, Meadows’ apparent manipulation of the process to make Bennett his handpicked successor angered local Republicans. Cawthorn re-framed Bennett’s many high-profile endorsements as proof that Bennett would be beholden to Washington elites.
Provided he beats Democratic candidate Moe Davis in November, Cawthorn will become the youngest member of Congress.