A Republican nominee in Virginia who won his primary election following an endorsement from former President Donald Trump could potentially add another star to the MAGA movement in the U.S. Senate.

Hung Cao, a retired Navy captain and elite SEAL warrior, decisively secured the GOP nomination on Tuesday night, garnering 61.8% of the vote against two opponents, per NBC News. Cao is set to challenge Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who is seeking his third term. Endorsed by President Trump in May, Cao had several weeks to promote the endorsement and distance himself from his competitors.

Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, congratulated Cao in a statement, adding that his nomination presents the GOP with a “real pickup opportunity” in Virginia this fall, where Trump is competitive against President Biden. “Hung Cao graduated from the Naval Academy and served our country honorably for decades. In Washington, Hung will fight to secure our border, improve education, and get prices under control,” Daines said, The Hill reported.

The disciplined SEAL is already a familiar face to some Virginians. In 2022, he challenged Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) in the 10th district, losing by more than six points. The race against Sen. Kaine is expected to be an uphill battle, though not insurmountable: President Joe Biden is averaging a lead over Trump by 1-2% based on recent polling compiled by FiveThirtyEight. Additionally, the 2021 election of Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin has reinvigorated the state GOP, helping the party make inroads in once-deep blue areas of Virginia like Loudoun County. Despite this, the Cook Political Report rates the race against Kaine as a “solid Democrat.”

Cao expressed his gratitude to Fox News host Sean Hannity for President Trump’s recognition following his win. “I came here as a refugee from Vietnam, and this country gave me everything and I grabbed on to that American Dream. But you know what, I paid back every time with my service to this country because I love it so much,” he said. “Seven polls now are showing Joe Biden and President Trump are basically dead even. Not only that… Tim Kaine is at 43%. You know anybody that’s an incumbent who’s below 50% is in deep trouble,” Cao said.

When asked by Hannity to explain why Virginia has started to trend toward the Republican party in recent election cycles, Cao stated that it is due to residents prioritizing economic issues over cultural matters favored by local Democrats, such as transgender rights and explicit books in public libraries. “People are just mad. They can’t afford food to put on the table. They can’t afford a house. They can’t afford to fill up their gas tanks,” he said.


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