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Trump to rally in Arizona as heated GOP Senate primary is underway

Former President Donald Trump is touching down in Arizona Saturday for his first rally of the midterm election year, bringing the spotlight to a state that will have hotly contested races for governor and the U.S. Senate in November.

In the governor’s race, Trump has endorsed Kari Lake , a former news anchor who says she wouldn’t have certified the 2020 election . He has not yet picked a Senate candidate to take on incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly.

The Republicans who are vying to challenge Kelly include Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, solar power executive Jim Lamon, venture capitalist Blake Masters and retired Air Force Major General Michael "Mick" McGuire.

Democrats have won the last two Senate races in Arizona, including the 2020 special election when Kelly defeated former Senator Martha McSally by 2.4 points. Kelly, a retired astronaut, is serving the remainder of the late Arizona Senator John McCain’s term and must run again this year for a full six-year term.

Trump isn’t expected to endorse anyone Saturday — Arizona’s primary is August 2, and sources familiar with the race believe Trump is waiting to see how the race shapes up before he decides on a candidate.

His endorsement is powerful, but it doesn’t always clear the field. North Carolina Congressman Ted Budd, for instance, is in a tough race against former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory. And in Alabama, Trump-endorsed Congressman Mo Brooks is locked in a a tight contest against Katie Britt, who was retiring Senator Richard Shelby’s chief of staff .

Trump remains popular with Arizona Republicans. Though his endorsement failed to carry McSally to victory in the 2018 or 2020 , it would be influential in the primary.

"If you’re any candidate in this race for Senate, you want his endorsement," said Chris DeRose, a lawyer and former Brnovich staffer in the state attorney general’s office. "Do you need it to win? No. But you’d be crazy not to want it."

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