Rep. Thomas Massie was declared the winner of the Republican primary in Kentucky’s 4th District on Tuesday, coasting to a comfortable win after President Donald Trump had called for him to be ousted from the GOP.
In the end, Massie’s race against lawyer Todd McMurtry was not in doubt despite criticism of the congressman for forcing House members to come back to Washington in March for debate on a widely supported roughly $2 trillion coronavirus response and aid package.
Trump called Massie a “third rate Grandstander” on Twitter and said he should be thrown out of the party.
It turned out, however, that Kentucky Republicans did not have a viable alternative.
Massie was leading with 88 percent of the vote when The Associated Press called his race with 73 percent of precincts reporting in a primary that was largely conducted by mail and through drop-off absentee voting because of precautions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. McMurtry trailed with 12 percent.
"Tonight's victory sends a strong message that Republican voters in the 4th District of Kentucky want someone to represent them in Washington who will consistently stand on principle, defend life, and support the Constitution," Massie said in a statement. "I am incredibly humbled by this overwhelming victory."
McMurtry briefly had the support of the GOP national security establishment, thanks both to Massie’s efforts to force a vote on the coronavirus aid bill and his voting record favoring a more limited U.S. foreign policy. The McMurtry balloon soon popped, however, when his past racist social media posts surfaced.
House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney and other members who had donated to McMurtry later asked for their money back. As of June 3, McMurtry’s campaign had returned $5,000 to the Republican Jewish Coalition but not the $2,500 donated by Cheney’s Cowboy PAC or the $2,000 each from Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger’s campaign account or Ohio Rep. Michael R. Turner’s Impact Committee.
The primary win puts Massie on a glide path to reelection in a northern Kentucky district Trump carried by 36 points in 2016.
Massie, who won a fourth full term in 2018 by 26 points, next faces Matthew Best, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary Tuesday. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Solid Republican.