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Former President Trump during his rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Some high-dollar donors to former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory put their money behind Rep. Ted Budd, his U.S. Senate primary opponent, after Donald Trump endorsed Budd this year, records show.

Why it matters: The former president's endorsement can be literal currency in Republican primary fights. The shifting allegiances between McCrory and Budd illustrate how Trump can single-handedly alter not just support but the money race in high-profile political fights.

What's happening: David Congdon, the executive chairman of trucking giant Old Dominion Freight Line, gave the legal maximum to McCrory's primary campaign in April, according to Federal Election Commission records.

The big picture: In general, a Trump endorsement has the ability to affect voters' and donors' thinking in several ways.

  • He remains immensely popular among Republicans, who may be inclined to vote for his preferred candidates out of loyalty or a belief he has the party's best interests at heart.
  • For that reason, a Trump endorsement also makes a GOP primary candidate more viable — and donors in particular tend to gravitate toward candidates with better odds of winning.
  • The ex-president's notorious aversion to perceived disloyalty also may sway would-be candidates, donors and campaign workers concerned about drawing his or his political team's ire.

Between the lines: Trump's political sway is most apparent within the grassroots, and the North Carolina Senate primary has seen some smaller voters switch allegiances after Trump's endorsement.

  • One retiree from Cashiers, North Carolina, chipped in $250 to McCrory in April. Four days after Trump backed Budd, she gave him twice as much.
  • Another retiree from Sanibel, Florida, gave $300 to McCrory in May. A month later, after Trump's endorsement, he gave the same sum to Budd.
  • Both people donated to Trump's 2016 and 2020 campaigns.

Looking ahead: Most of Trump's GOP primary endorsements this year have come during the past few months, and any additional effect on donor loyalties will be more apparent in campaigns' third-quarter fundraising numbers.

  • Those reports are due to the FEC by Oct. 15.

Go deeper

Ohio GOP candidates push super PAC bounds

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Republican candidates in one of the nation's most hotly contested Senate races are pushing the bounds of high-dollar politicking, an Axios examination shows.

Why it matters: Anti-corruption rules bar candidates from coordinating with supportive super PACs. In Ohio's GOP Senate primary, huge amounts of money are pouring in, and operatives are finding creative ways to leverage it without breaking federal law.

1 hour ago - Health

WHO: Not yet known whether Omicron leads to more severe disease

Photo illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Sunday said that it is not yet clear whether the newly discovered Omicron variant is more transmissible than other strains of the COVID-19 virus.

Why it matters: The agency's statement comes as the variant, discovered in South Africa, has already been detected in European and Asian countries.

7 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.