Week in politics: Pa. results pending; Cawthorn loses in N.C.; all eyes on Ga.
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
The primary season is upon us. Voters in five states went to the polls on Tuesday - more to come next week. NPR senior editor and correspondent Ron Elving joins us.
Ron, thanks so much for being with us.
RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Scott.
SIMON: And let's begin with Pennsylvania. David McCormick and Dr. Mehmet Oz are tied for the Republican Senate nomination. Dr. Oz, of course, has the Donald Trump endorsement. Talk of a recount - what's the latest?
ELVING: The latest word appears to be later - no results until much later - 1.3 million votes cast in this race, Scott, and now only about a thousand votes are separating the two leaders. The counties don't have to report their official numbers until June 8. And so we wait.
SIMON: Let's stay with Pennsylvania. The lieutenant governor there, John Fetterman, suffered a stroke last week, was not able to make any appearances in the last few days. By the way, he seems to be fine now. Given all, he handily won the Senate Democratic nomination.
ELVING: Yeah, on one level, that is phenomenal to have a stroke, go public with it and then beat the vote total of all the other candidates combined in this multi-candidate race by 17 points and by 2 to 1 over his closest rival. You know, John Fetterman is a phenomenal candidate. But the truth is, there were other promising candidates in this field who just never got traction. And this man has already been lieutenant governor for years.
So now Democrats in Pennsylvania, possibly on a broader stage, are going to have to come to grips with why Pennsylvania is like a guy with a beard who campaigns in a hoodie and shorts. And by the way, the Republican candidate for governor in Pennsylvania is also a highly colorful figure and as hardcore a conservative as any statewide Republican I've seen in 40 years in any state - total ban on all abortions, total denial of the result of the 2020 election, and yes, total endorsement from Donald Trump.
SIMON: And looking ahead to next week, races in five states - Georgia seems to be potentially the most telling about Donald Trump's political pull.
ELVING: Indeed, Trump is looking for a miracle here. And if he got it, that would be huge. But this does not seem to be a miracle happening for the former president. This is the race he has prioritized over all others this year. He never forgave Georgia's sitting governor, Republican Brian Kemp, for refusing to help him overturn the clear and verified results of the 2020 election. But now Trump's chosen horse in this race, David Perdue, has pretty much fallen out of contention and is scarcely campaigning. And now we have reports of Trump even pulling back in the final weekend, conceding this one's a lost cause.
SIMON: At this point in the primary season, how do you assess the value of Donald Trump's endorsement?
ELVING: On the numbers, it looks pretty good - lots of wins. But most of those were candidates running unopposed or heavily favored to win. Trump did get big wins for the Senate in Ohio and West Virginia earlier this spring, and he may still get one in Pennsylvania, as we've been saying. North Carolina was mostly good for him, although he lost out on freshman Madison Cawthorn, whom he had tried to defend against multiple scandals and problems. Trump was also unable to dislodge the governor in Idaho. He had endorsed the challenge to that governor, and he was also unable to get his favored candidate for the governorship in Nebraska. So overall, more of a mixed bag than a juggernaut.
SIMON: Finally, The Washington Post reports that Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, emailed two Arizona legislators asking them to reverse Trump's losses in the state. Does this raise conflict-of-interest questions for Justice Thomas?
ELVING: It may, and not for the first time, not even for the first time this year. But look, Virginia Thomas has been a movement conservative and activist back to her early days in Washington in the 1980s when she was lobbying for the Chamber of Commerce against proposals like, say, the Family and Medical Leave Act. So this is all highly consistent with who she's been. In these latest episodes, however, urging state legislators to set aside legitimate voting results - they're not only emails in contradiction of the law in the Constitution. They may be in violation as well.
SIMON: NPR's senior editor and correspondent Ron Elving, thanks so much.
ELVING: Thank you, Scott.
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