In Trump country primary showdowns, both parties score critical wins

PHOTO: Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun thanks supporters after winning the republican primary in Whitestown, Ind., May 8, 2018.PlayMichael Conroy/AP
WATCH GOP, Democrats score wins in high-stakes primaries

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In the broadest slate of primary showdowns thus far this midterm election season, Republicans and Democrats scored critical wins deep in the heart of Trump country — perhaps offering a glimpse of the fierce faceoffs to come November.

In the closely watched West Virginia GOP Senate primary, former coal baron Don Blankenship, who was convicted of a misdemeanor for conspiring to violate mine safety regulations, roiled the race and garnered headlines with racially-tinged insults and sharp-tongued barbs. His intent was clear: piercing what he painted as the cloistered circles of the Republican establishment.

PHOTO: U.S. Senate Republican primary candidate Don Blankenship addresses supporters following a poor showing in the polls May 8, 2018 in Charleston, West Virginia. Jeff Swensen/Getty Images
U.S. Senate Republican primary candidate Don Blankenship addresses supporters following a poor showing in the polls May 8, 2018 in Charleston, West Virginia.

That so-called establishment — including President Donald Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr. — closed ranks and shot right back by tweeting stinging rebukes and urging voters to cast ballots for either of the two Republicans on the ballot.

Ultimately, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey emerged the victor in the hotly-contested race.

Blankenship appeared to finish third.

His loss means that Republicans worried about his potential drag on the ballot come November might feel a bit better about their prospects at unseating Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.

On election night, Blankenship, who said he was "Trumpier than Trump," admitted he could not trump a Trump tweet.

"Perhaps, President Trump has been successful,” Blankenship said.

Still, Blankenship's fight might not be over.

Blankenship — who has said he would not support Morrisey as Republican Senate candidate — suggested that he might continue to play a role in the race against Morrisey and sitting Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin from the sidelines, wherever that might be.

Over in Indiana, an acrimonious three-way race in the GOP Senate primary notable for its Trump lovefest ultimately saw a self-proclaimed “outsider” millionaire businessman nab the win.

Mike Braun navigated the GOP primary with an aggressive campaign funded almost entirely by almost $6 million of his own money.

PHOTO: Mike Braun, center, candidate for the Republican nomination for Senate in Indiana, attends the Kosciusko County Republican Fish Fry in Warsaw, Ind., April 4, 2018.Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP
Mike Braun, center, candidate for the Republican nomination for Senate in Indiana, attends the Kosciusko County Republican Fish Fry in Warsaw, Ind., April 4, 2018.

In one ad, he strolled the streets toting cardboard figures of Republican congressman Rep. Todd Rokita and fellow GOP Rep. Luke Messer in identical suits challenging bystanders on whether they could tell the two apart.

For their part, Messer and Rokita sought to closely align their brands and messages with Trump.

An official from Messer's campaign offered this: “The man who has the most gold typically wins.”

An official from Rokita’s campaign agreed.

In Ohio's gubernatorial primary where Democrats tilted to the left, Richard Cordray, the former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under President Obama easily won his primary against former Democratic congressman and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. While Cordray enjoyed support from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Kucinich nabbed endorsements from several progressive groups including Sen. Bernie Sanders’ political advocacy group, ‘Our Revolution’.

PHOTO: Ohio Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine greets supporters at a primary election night event, May 8, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. Bryan Woolston/AP
Ohio Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine greets supporters at a primary election night event, May 8, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio.

Similarly, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine won his state's Republican primary and the two will face off in the fall. Ohio’s sitting governor, moderate Republican John Kasich, is term-limited.

DeWine ran on an agenda in line with the president’s — like many of the Republicans who ran in the primaries Tuesday night from West Virginia, to Ohio, to Indiana.

Both DeWine and his opponent, Ohio’s Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, disavowed Kasich, who has been an avid critic of the presidents and publicized their allegiance to the president.

“You can't distance yourself from Donald Trump and win statewide today in America,” ABC News’ political analyst Matt Dowd said.

In North Carolina, Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger became the first sitting member of Congress this cycle to fall victim to a primary challenge. He lost the GOP primary in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District to local Baptist pastor Mark Harris.

The race largely hinged on Pittenger's vote in favor of the recent congressional spending bill, which Harris used to tie him to the "Washington swamp," a message that appears to have resonated with North Carolina voters.

Harris' victory also increases the likelihood that the district, which stretches from the suburbs east of Charlotte to the state's southeastern corner, is competitive in November.

Democrats nominated U.S Marine Corps veteran and solar energy entrepreneur Dan McCready, who has proven a prolific fundraiser and a strong candidate to flip a seat that President Trump won by 12 points in 2016 blue.

McCready celebrated his victory Tuesday night, writing on Twitter, "Tonight we celebrate, tomorrow we get back to work. I'm so honored to be your nominee. On to November."

And in a theme that has emerged this midterm season, the so-called "pink wave" continued to surge in an election year rocked by political sexual harassment scandals and the subsequent #MeToo movement.

Female candidates won nearly every Democratic primary in contested races on Tuesday.

There were 27 open Democratic House primaries and voters selected a female nominee in 17 of them, according to ABC News’ count. Eight of the candidates are black women, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University's "Gender Watch 2018".

Jeannine Lee Lake, the first African American to win a party nomination for Congress in Indiana’s 6th Congressional District, will face Republican Greg Pence, the brother of Vice President Mike Pence, who held the seat for 12 years before being elected governor of the Hoosier State.

“We are excited. We are thankful. We are ready for the next step,” Lake, 48, tweeted.

ABC News' Arlette Saenz, Alisa Wiersema, Meridith McGraw, Cheyenne Haslett, Paola Chavez and Soo Rin Kim contributed to this report.

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