Trump aside, the Republican establishment is having a good year

Few outsider candidates have been able to replicate Trump’s recipe for primary success this year, as Republicans successfully swatted away challenges to the party’s incumbents. McCain’s opponent, Kelli Ward, and Rubio’s challenger, Carlos Beruff, each sought to ride the Trump phenomenon to no avail. Neither had Trump’s name recognition, nor his ability to command media attention. They also didn’t have his endorsement.

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The wins come not long after Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin trounced his primary challenger, Paul Nehlen, who also ran on a Trumpian message and hoped to repeat Dave Brat’s shocking victory over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia two years ago, only to score less than 16 percent of the vote.

Trump, of course, nominally endorsed Rubio, McCain and Ryan, and has made no real effort to build a movement bigger than himself. It’s not clear how big his coattails would be if he did: Representative Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, who received a rare Trump endorsement, lost her primary, partly as a result of redistricting…

Josh Holmes, former campaign manager for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and president of the consulting firm Cavalry LLC, said the Trump factor is unique.

“It’s not replicated anywhere at any level of government,” Holmes said. No one has Trump’s blend of name recognition, self-funding capability and a long-running, hit show on network television, he said.

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