Republican voters reject ex-convict candidate in West Virginia, and a self-styled GOP 'outsider' beats 2 congressmen in Indiana

Rob Crandall/Shutterstock

Indiana businessman Mike Braun beat two congressmen to win the Republican nomination for Senate on Tuesday night. Braun will face Democrat Joe Donnelly in the November general midterm election.

Braun, who touted his self-funded campaign, ran in what turned out to be the priciest primary battleground in the US, where candidates had spent $US1 million on ads in the run-up to the primary contest this week.

The race in Indiana was one of several closely watched contests on Tuesday. Political observers also had eyes on West Virginia, where controversial coal baron and ex-convict, Don Blankenship, sought to position himself as a political lookalike to President Donald Trump.

Blankenship conceded the West Virginia primary, having pulled in only about 20% of the vote, compared to the winner, state attorney general Patrick Morrisey, who grabbed 34.7% of the ballots on Tuesday night.

In Ohio, Rep. Jim Renacci, who recently earned President Donald Trump’s endorsement, won the primary there – knocking his two Republican opponents out of the running. He’ll face Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in November.

Tuesday night’s primaries were seen as a pivotal test for Republicans. Trump won West Virginia, Indiana, and Ohio in the 2016 presidential election, but the party at large is facing considerable headwinds due in part to a Trump administration continually tied up in controversy, and an energised groundswell from Democrats looking to regain a majority in Congress.

Keep scrolling for the results of Tuesday night’s primary races:

West Virginia — state attorney general Patrick Morrisey wins

Results: 100% of precincts reporting.


Total votes: 136,220


Total votes: 159,891

West Virginia was perhaps the most closely watched of the three key Senate primary races. While incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin was expected to easily defeat his challenger, Paula Jean Swearengin, wild cards on the Republican side had shaken things up in the days leading up to the primary.

Chief among those wildcards was Don Blankenship, an ex-convict businessman, and self-styled firebrand who has sought to closely tie himself to President Donald Trump, leaning on anti-establishment rhetoric.

Blankenship ran a coal company and spent time in federal prison in the aftermath of a 2010 mining disaster that killed 29 people. He conceded the primary late Tuesday after pulling in only about 20% of the vote. The winner, state attorney general Patrick Morrisey, will face Manchin in November.

More than 40% of voters in West Virginia chose Trump during the 2016 presidential election.

Indiana — businessman Mike Braun wins

Results: 99.6% precincts reporting (these will be updated as numbers come in)


Total votes: 505,136


  • Sen. Joe Donnelly (incumbent, unchallenged)

The Senate race in Indiana was the expensive primary battle in the country, according to the Indianapolis Star, which noted that candidates spent $US1 million dollars on ads in the run-up to Tuesday’s primary, with Braun, a self-funded candidate and businessman, taking the lead on that front.

Trump won Indiana in the 2016 presidential election by about 19 points.

Ohio — Rep. Jim Renacci wins

Results: 100% of precincts reporting.


Total votes: 760,684


  • Sen. Sherrod Brown (incumbent, unchallenged)

President Donald Trump gave Renacci the thumbs-up in Ohio, a state where Trump won more than 51% of the vote in the 2016 general election.

Unlike West Virginia and Indiana, the president’s endorsement could be particularly consequential, for better or worse, in the November general election. While Trump flipped the state in 2016, a majority of voters there picked Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.