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Trump backs Sam Brown in US Senate race, widening momentum gap in crowded Nevada GOP field

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Former president Donald Trump endorsed Retired Army Capt. Sam Brown in the Nevada U.S. Senate race on Sunday, choosing a candidate widely seen as the front-runner over a crowded primary field of candidates who have angled to align themselves with the former president.

Trump’s endorsement came on Truth Social after he spent the day in Las Vegas holding a rally, where several of the GOP Senate candidates were in attendance. He said Brown was a “FEARLESS AMERICAN PATRIOT” and noted his Purple Heart status. He also said Brown will “fight tirelessly” for several of his priorities including border security and growing the economy.

Trump chose Brown over several other candidates with close ties with the former president. One rival, Jeff Gunter, Trump’s former ambassador to Iceland, has campaigned with the slogan that he is “110% pro-Trump” and has described Brown as the establishment pick for being endorsed by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Jim Marchant, another candidate, ran as a Republican candidate for Nevada Secretary of State in 2022 on a platform of election denialism spurred by Trump’s false claims of widespread election fraud. In 2022 he introduced Trump onstage when the former president visited Nevada to rally supporters for tight midterm elections.

Republicans view the Nevada race as a pivotal pickup opportunity that could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate. Democrats hold a 51-49 majority but are facing a challenging 2024 Senate map, where they must defend incumbents not only in red states — Montana, Ohio and West Virginia — but also in multiple swing states including Nevada.

The endorsement further lifts Brown above his opponents in terms of national backing. His opponents had long criticized Brown for skipping primary debates, a move that Trump also did when he polled well ahead of his opponents in the presidential primary.

Brown, a Purple Heart recipient, was a heavily recruited candidate for Republicans in Washington looking to avoid a repeat of their lackluster showing in the 2022 midterm elections, when flawed GOP candidates helped Democrats win battleground races and hold the Senate majority.

Gabe Stern, The Associated Press

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