Trump endorsement in battleground state another victory for Senate Republican campaign chair

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Former President Trump made a last minute endorsement in battleground Nevada’s Republican Senate nomination race.

“Sam Brown is a fearless American patriot,” the former president wrote in a social media posting Sunday night, hours before Tuesday’s primary in the key western swing state. “As your next Senator, Sam will fight tirelessly to secure our Border, end Migrant Crime, stop Inflation, grow our Economy, STRONGLY SUPPORT OUR GREAT MILITARY/VETS.”

Trump’s endorsement, a couple of hours after he headlined a rally in Las Vegas, cements Brown’s status as the frontrunner in a crowded GOP primary field in the fight to face off with Democratic Sen. Jackie Rosen in November in a race that may determine if Republicans win back the Senate majority.


Donald Trump

Former President Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, speaks during a campaign rally at Sunset Park in Las Vegas on June 9, 2024. (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

The endorsement was also a victory for GOP Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), which is the Senate GOP’s campaign arm. It is the latest example of the seemingly strong alliance Daines has forged with Trump to shape the 2024 Senate map in key races across the country, including in states that will be instrumental in shaping both the Senate and presidential elections.

“I’m asking him to endorse Sam Brown. Yeah. And I think that’s very close,” Daines predicted in an interview with Fox News’ Aishah Hasnie a week ago. “He likes Sam Brown a lot. I’m confident you’re going to see President Trump endorse Sam Brown in the near future.”


Brown is a former Army captain who was severely burned and permanently scarred in 2008 when his vehicle ran over an explosive device in the war in Afghanistan. The Trump endorsement will boost Brown, who is making his second straight Senate bid, as he aims to fend off a crowded field of rivals including Jeff Gunter, a wealthy dermatologist who served as the former president’s ambassador to Iceland.

Sam Brown

Republican Nevada Senate candidate, former U.S. Army Captain Sam Brown. (Sam Brown for Nevada)

“Daines worked behind the scenes to help lock up the Trump endorsement,” a source familiar told Fox News, adding that the NRSC chair spoke with “Trump multiple times about the race.”

This year’s Senate map has heavy overlap with must-win states Trump narrowly lost four years ago and needs to carry in order to win back the White House: Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Arizona. 

Additionally, Daines and Trump are now aligned in every key battleground state race, with both supporting Brown, former Rep. Mike Rogers in Michigan, Dave McCormick in Pennsylvania, Eric Hovde in Wisconsin and 2022 gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake in Arizona.

They were also backing Tim Sheehy in last week’s GOP Senate primary in Montana, a race where Republicans aim to flip a Democratic-held seat in a red state.

A senior GOP strategist involved in Senate races, who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely, told Fox News that Daines and the former president “share the goal of nominating candidates who will help President Trump, rather than hurt him, in must-win states.” 

Daines credits his “strong productive working relationship, a friendship,” he has with Trump, which has bridged the still-lingering intra-party divide between the former president and longtime Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

“From the very beginning, the president and I have worked very closely, very carefully, finding candidates that we agree on, that are the best candidates that can not only win primaries but general elections,” Daines emphasized in a Fox News Digital interview last month.

Democrats see it differently when it comes to the candidates Daines and Trump are backing.

“Now the damaging revelations emerging about the GOP’s Senate recruits have grown to include their lies about their biographies on the campaign trail, scandals stemming from their finances and a lifetime of unvetted statements and policy positions,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee communications director David Bergstein argued in a recent memo.


Democrats control the U.S. Senate, 51-49, but Republicans are looking at a favorable Senate map this year, with Democrats defending 23 of the 34 seats up for grabs. 

Three of those seats are in red states that former President Trump carried in 2020 — Ohio, Montana and West Virginia, where Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is not running for re-election. 

Five more Democrat-held seats are in the key general election battleground states. Democrats are also defending an open seat in blue Maryland, where popular former two-term Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is running for the Senate.

“I want 51. That’s the majority,” Daines said last month when asked what he’s aiming for in November’s elections.

The senator is striking a very different tone than his predecessor, Sen. Rick Scott of Florida.

Scott predicted a 55-seat majority would come out of the 2022 midterms, but he fell far short as Republicans faced ballot box setbacks in key contests and failed to win back the Senate majority they lost in the 2020 cycle.

Rick Scott

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) walks out of the U.S. Capitol to speak at a news conference on May 3, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“As we looked at the results of ’22, nobody was happy,” Daines said. “Everybody likes winning. Nobody likes to lose. We looked first and foremost at a strategy that would start with finding candidates that could win not just primary elections but general elections.”

Daines made news in a Fox Digital interview in December 2022 as he was coming on board as NRSC chair. The senator vowed to do “whatever it takes to make sure we have a Republican majority.”

That included having the NRSC get involved in contested GOP primaries, which marked a significant change from his predecessor on the committee.

Fast-forward a year and a half, and Daines said “we’re positioned now in most of these states with candidates that not only can win primaries but are making every general election race right now competitive.”

Plenty of the blame for 2022’s GOP Senate election setbacks was directed at Trump, who shaped key primary battles. In some of the races, the nominees either supported or begrudgingly disavowed Trump’s repeated re-litigating of his 2020 election defeat to President Biden and his unproven claims his loss was due to a “rigged” and “stolen” election. 

Herschel Walker in Georgia, Blake Masters in Arizona, Adam Laxalt in Nevada and Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, who won their primaries due in part to Trump’s endorsements and support, all went down in defeat.

It has been a different story in 2024, with Trump, the NRSC and McConnell nearly entirely on the same page when it comes to Senate race recruitments.

“We compare notes,” Daines said of his working relationship with Trump. “There’s trust built there, constructive dialogue. We text and speak to each other frequently … as we shape the Senate map for 2024.”

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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