Paul Ryan Easily Wins Primary
Notwithstanding a push by Trump supporters and hard right pundits, House Speaker Paul Ryan easily won his primary challenge last night:
WASHINGTON — The House speaker, Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, easily won his Republican primary on Tuesday, defeating a political newcomer who had received a late surge of attention after being praised by Donald J. Trump.
With more than three-quarters of precincts reporting, Mr. Ryan had 84 percent of the vote, and his rival, Paul Nehlen, had 16 percent.
Mr. Nehlen rose from obscurity in the campaign’s closing days when Mr. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, offered kind words to him on Twitter and later said that he was running “a very good campaign.”
Those gestures thrust Mr. Nehlen into the middle of an intraparty feud between Mr. Trump and Mr. Ryan, the Republican vice-presidential nominee in 2012.
Mr. Trump said last Tuesday that he was not ready to endorse Mr. Ryan, who months earlier had vacillated over his own endorsement of Mr. Trump before finally offering it. Three days later, Mr. Trump, under pressure to unify the party, reversed course and endorsed Mr. Ryan.
Speaking on Tuesday night, Mr. Ryan offered a counterpoint to Mr. Trump’s campaign, without naming him. “In times as uncertain as these, it is easy to resort to division,” he said. “It’s simple to prey on people’s fears. That stuff sells, but it doesn’t stick.”
Mr. Ryan, 46, has represented his southeastern Wisconsin district since he was 28 and remains hugely popular there. But with memories of the 2014 primary defeat of the House majority leader, Eric Cantor, still fresh, Mr. Ryan had worked in recent weeks to avoid any electoral surprise. Drawing on his nearly $10 million in campaign funds, he ran a series of television ads, and he spent last weekend appearing at events like Corn and Brat Days in Elkhorn and the Armenian Fest in Racine.
Nehlen had the support of Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter, and other conservative pundits who had also been behind the candidacy of David Brat, who beat former Virginia Congressman, and former House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor in one of the more shocking primary outcomes in some time. Ryan, however, has never been anything like Cantor. Unlike Cantor, Ryan has stayed very close to his district and could not be painted as having lost touch with its voters the way Cantor could. No doubt, Trump’s tepid endorsement of Ryan put the final nail in Nehlen’s coffin, but he never really had a chance to begin with.