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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 July 2018

President Trump backs two successful nominees in US primaries 

November midterm elections are critical for the future of Mr Trump's presidency

Lou Barletta, Republican primary candidate for US Senate, waves to supporters after speaking during an election night results party, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. Barletta, a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump who first got national notice as a small-city mayor for his attempted crackdown on illegal immigration, on Tuesday won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. Matt Slocum / AP
Lou Barletta, Republican primary candidate for US Senate, waves to supporters after speaking during an election night results party, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. Barletta, a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump who first got national notice as a small-city mayor for his attempted crackdown on illegal immigration, on Tuesday won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. Matt Slocum / AP

Four US states held primary elections on Tuesday as the country moves towards crucial midterm elections.

President Donald Trump backed the successful US Senate nominee in the key swing state of Pennsylvania and the successful Republican challenger in Nebraska. Oregon and Idaho also held primary elections.

Congressman Lou Bartella — Mr Trump’s pick in Pennsylvania — will challenge Democratic Senator Bob Casey, who is seeking a third term in November. Deb Fischer, the Nebraska incumbent, defeated four Republican challengers and will be the strong favourite to win re-election in deep-red Nebraska.

The primaries are a test of support for Mr Trump, as his embattled presidency prepares to defend the Republican power base in November’s midterms. Mr Trump signalled as much, tweeting on Tuesday: "Nebraska — make sure you get out to the polls and VOTE for Deb Fischer today!"

November’s elections will be critical not just for the future of Mr Trump’s presidency but also for how it could shape the American political landscape for years to come. The crowded ballot will include the whole House of Representatives, a third of the Senate, 36 governorships and a number of state legislature seats.

If the Republicans lose their majority in the House of Representatives or the Senate, they’ll lose the ability to advance legislation without bipartisan support. And if Democrats take either house, they will gain the ability to block the Republican legislative agenda and Trump nominees from being confirmed, as well as gaining power to issue subpoenas, increasing their ability to investigate Mr Trump. Also at stake is the 2021 redistricting process, which offers the opportunity for victors to cement gains by gerrymandering district maps.

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Mr Barletta was an early supporter of Mr Trump before the 2016 presidential nomination was settled. Mr Trump is expected to visit Pennsylvania to campaign for him after last week saying he backed Mr Barletta "fully, strongly and proudly."

In Oregon, State Representative Knute Buehler emerged from a crowded primary to capture the Republican nomination for Oregon governor. Incumbent Democratic Governor Kate Brown remains the favourite to win in November however.

In Idaho, former State Representative Paulette Jordan, 38, won her primary to become the state’s first female Democratic gubernatorial nominee.

But she faces a difficult race: Idaho hasn't elected a Democratic governor since 1990. Lieutenant Governor Brad Little, 64, a rancher who has spent the past 16 years in elected office, secured the GOP nomination.