Trump backs Sam Brown in U.S. Senate race, widening momentum gap in crowded Nevada GOP field

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Former President Donald Trump approved Retired Army Captain Sam Brown in Nevada’s U.S. Senate race on Sunday, choosing a candidate widely seen as the favorite among a crowded field of primary candidates who have sought to align themselves with the former president.

Trump’s endorsement came on Truth Social after he I spent the day in Las Vegas holding a rally where several Republican Senate candidates were in attendance. He said Brown was a “FEARLESS AMERICAN PATRIOT” and noted his Purple Heart status. He also said Brown “will fight tirelessly” for many of his priorities, including border security and growing the economy.

The winner of Tuesday’s Republican primary will face Nevada’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen, a first-term moderate who has become a top Republican target in 2024.

Republicans view the Nevada race as a crucial takeover opportunity that could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate. Democrats hold a 51-49 majority but face a a difficult Senate map for 2024. They must defend incumbents not only in red states – Montana, Ohio and West Virginia – but also in several swing states, including Nevada.

Trump chose Brown over several other candidates with close ties to the former president. One of his rivals, Jeff Gunter, Trump’s former ambassador to Iceland, campaigned with the slogan that he is “110% pro-Trump” and described Brown as the establishment’s choice for being endorsed by US Senator Mitch McConnell.

Jim Marchant, another candidate, ran as the Republican candidate for Nevada secretary of state in 2022 on an election denial platform driven by Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud. In 2022, he introduced Trump on stage when the former president visited Nevada to rally supporters for close midterm elections.

This endorsement puts Brown above his opponents in terms of national support. His opponents had long accused Brown of skip the primary debates, a decision Trump also made when he polled well ahead of his opponents in the presidential primary.

Brown was a heavily recruited Republican candidate in Washington, seeking to avoid a repeat of his lackluster performance in the 2022 midterm elections, when flawed Republican candidates helped Democrats win battleground races and hold the majority in the Senate.

Brown has made his military service central to his messaging during this election campaign and in his unsuccessful bid for Senate in 2022. He has often told the story of the roadside bomb in Afghanistan that scarred his face and almost killed him and the leadership he learned while in the military.

Following the endorsement, Rosen called Brown an “extreme MAGA opponent” on problems, including abortionhealth care and social security.

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