Given last night’s Senate runoff result in Georgia, Republicans can safely say we’ve been here before.
In 2021 Democrat Rafael Warnock beat a Trump-backed Republican and Democrats won control of the Senate. In 2022 Rafael Warnock beat a Trump-backed Republican and Democrats added to their majority and also added Senate committee majorities to their win. They didn’t have that committee power for the last two years. They do now.
The losing Walker campaign was never fully on track. Fox: “Walker was heavily criticized both on the campaign trail and in ads over what Democrats called his numerous ‘bizarre or false statements,’and also took fire over numerous reports that he overinflated the success of his businesses and academic record.
“Even before he faced bombshell allegations in September and October that he had persuaded and paid for past girlfriends to have abortions — which Walker, who is a vocal opponent of legalized abortion, repeatedly denied — the candidate was forced to play defense regarding a number of other personal controversies, from the accusations of past abuse and threats against his first wife to acknowledging children he fathered out of wedlock whom he had not previously publicly mentioned, despite having criticized absent fathers for decades.” Ouch. He was a walking Democrat attack ad against himself.
So Walker was not an ideal candidate. How did he roll over his primary opponents? The Trump endorsement. In what we saw all over the country in 2022 Republican primaries, Trump proxies held the loyalty of a solid number of Trump partisans in the base while their opponents sliced up the remaining small slices of the political pie.
But in Pennsylvania, Arizona, and in Georgia these Trump backed candidates went down to defeat in general elections. Granted, a lot more Trump proxies won than lost. That mostly happened in red states. However, in those three purple states, states that Republicans must carry in the 2024 presidential election to win, voters rejected the Trump brand.
One could say this runoff was a close decision. It was. One could also say there was an anti-Republican wave in Georgia. But there wasn’t. Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, both anti-Trump Republicans, won by large margins. Ideologically all three Republican candidates referenced are pretty similar. So it wasn’t that. The one major difference between them is that with the same voters the pro-Trump guy lost and the anti-Trump guys won. It’s no coincidence.
Trump also lost in court on Tuesday, as a jury found two Trump Organization businesses guilty of 17 counts of criminal tax fraud including conspiracy and falsifying business records. That won’t look good on a Trump campaign handout. Though, the Dems could use it to serious effect.
Trump proxies are political extensions of the former president. They are not winning statewide races in states Republicans need to capture. It is likely, neither would Trump.
If we really want to stop Democrat control of the executive branch, regardless of personal feelings or emotional loyalties, Republicans must truly ask ourselves if Trump is the man who can be elected to do it. The latest news, the current record, says no. Smart money says it stays that way.