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More Trump picks suffer election losses

Former Vice President Mike Pence, left, and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp greet the crowd during a rally, Monday, May 23, 2022, in Kennesaw, Ga. Pence is opposing former President Donald Trump and his preferred Republican candidate for Georgia governor, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

WOODSTOCK, Ga. -- Donald Trump opened May by lifting a trailing Senate candidate in Ohio to the Republican nomination, seemingly cementing the former president's kingmaker status before another possible White House run. He's ending the month, however, stinging from a string of defeats of those he supported.

Trump faced a series of setbacks in Tuesday's primary elections as voters rejected his efforts to unseat two top targets for retribution: Georgia's Republican governor and secretary of state, both of whom had rebuffed Trump's pressure to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. But the magnitude of defeat in the governor's race -- more than 50 percentage points -- was especially stunning and raised questions about whether Republican voters are beginning to move on from Trump.

Trump sought to play down the losses by his favored candidates, saying on his social media platform Wednesday that he had a "very big and successful evening of political Endorsements" and insisting some races "were not possible to win."

After JD Vance vaulted from third to first place following Trump's late-stage endorsement in the Ohio Senate primary, the dynamics took a turn. Trump's pick in Nebraska's primary for governor, Charles Herbster, lost his race after allegations surfaced that he had groped women.

In Idaho a week later, the governor beat a Trump-backed challenger. In North Carolina, voters rebuffed Trump's plea to give a scandal-plagued congressman a second chance. And in Pennsylvania, a marquee Senate primary featuring Trump-endorsed celebrity heart surgeon Mehmet Oz remains too close to call.

But his biggest upset was in Georgia, where former Sen. David Perdue, whom Trump had lobbied to run and helped clear the field for, lost to Kemp. The governor was among Trump's top targets after he refused to overturn the results of the 2020 White House election in his state.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who defied Trump's call to "find" the votes to change the outcome two years ago -- a call that is now under investigation -- also won his party's nomination. Attorney General Chris Carr and Insurance Commissioner John King -- all opposed by Trump -- were also successful in their primaires.

In Alabama, Rep. Mo Brooks, whose Senate endorsement Trump rescinded as he struggled to gain traction, made it to a runoff, having gained support after Trump dropped him.

Trump has endorsed in nearly 200 races, from governor to county commissioner, often inserting himself into contests that aren't particularly competitive and helping bolster his compilation of wins. Some of his work, even in races with multiple candidates, has paid off.

His early support helped football great Herschel Walker and Rep. Ted Budd sail to their respective Senate primary nominations in Georgia and North Carolina. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump's former press secretary, easily won the GOP nomination for governor in Arkansas. And even in Georgia, all of the candidates Trump endorsed in open races won or will head to runoffs.

  photo  Incumbent Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger talks with supporters during an election night party Tuesday evening, May 24, 2022, at a small restaurant in Peachtree Corners, Ga. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)
  photo  Republican Gov. Brian Kemp holds his fingers out denoting four more years in front of supporters during an election night watch party, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Atlanta. Kemp easily turned back a GOP primary challenge Tuesday from former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who was backed by former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
  photo  FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, April 23, 2022, in Delaware, Ohio. With Trump focused on solidifying his reputation as a GOP kingmaker ahead of another potential presidential run, some allies say the Ohio victory could encourage him to step up his involvement in other bitter primary fights from Arizona to Missouri. (AP Photo/Joe Maiorana, File)

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