Political News Items.
1. National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar is as good as they come in the business of political reporting and analysis. Here’s what he had to say about the primaries in Georgia and Alabama last Tuesday. (The column was headlined: “The Republican Establishment Strikes Back”):
Last night’s Southern slate of primaries demonstrated that where there’s a Republican will to take on former President Trump, there’s a way to win. In Georgia and Alabama, Republicans nominated or advanced mainstream candidates in nearly every contested race, including a resounding landslide victory from Gov. Brian Kemp and a come-from-behind upset from Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
Trump-endorsed candidates who denied the results of the 2020 election were embarrassed. Former Sen. David Perdue, one of the very few Republican candidates to receive millions from Trump’s campaign organization, won a measly 22 percent of the vote in Georgia against the sitting governor. Rep. Jody Hice, Trump’s handpicked candidate for Secretary of State who amplified conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, lagged behind Raffensperger by 19 points and will be out of office come November. Trump’s candidate for Georgia Attorney General, John Gordon, won just about one-quarter of the GOP vote. Even his picks for wide-open House races lagged behind the competition: Vernon Jones, the self-proclaimed “Black Donald Trump,” finished second in Georgia’s 10th District primary and is headed to a runoff against Republican Mike Collins. Physician Rich McCormick held a two-to-one edge over his Trump-endorsed rival Jake Evans; that contest is also headed to a June runoff.
Trump’s one victory came in the Georgia Senate race, where his favored candidate Herschel Walker sailed to an easy primary victory over several lesser-known challengers. But establishment Republicans also ended up rallying behind Walker, making it an imperfect case study of Trump’s power within the party.
Financial Times Washington columnist Ed Luce is a sharp and well-informed analyst of American politics. Here’s his take on Trump “losing his stranglehold” on Republicans:
Trump’s handicap is that he is obsessed with one issue — that he was cheated by Joe Biden of his rightful election victory in 2020. Most Republican voters share in that belief, which is a litmus test for candidates. Yet the stolen election myth is their politics’ starting point, not its be-all and end-all. By confining himself to rigged elections, Trump is forgetting MAGA’s animating spirit, which is hatred of America’s cultural elites.
When Trump’s monomania backfires, it leaves him looking weak. His sole reason for endorsing David Perdue as Georgia’s Republican gubernatorial candidate was that he agreed the incumbent, Brian Kemp, was wrong to certify Biden’s victory in 2020. Backing Perdue was Trump’s revenge for Kemp’s disloyalty. But Kemp will win easily. It is even possible that Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, who resisted Trump’s direct plea to “find” his missing votes, will also be re-elected. (Ed Note: He wasn’t re-elected, but he did win the GOP nomination with more than 50 percent of the vote, thus precluding a run-off primary)
The more this happens, the less fear Trump will instill in his party. Once a strongman loses the ability to terrorize, a loss of respect is rarely far behind. Kemp’s selling point was that he fed MAGA’s cultural agenda. He has made it far harder for Georgians to get an abortion, much easier to carry concealed guns and more difficult to vote, which is red meat to the base. Kemp’s only sin is in not catering to Trump’s injured pride, which can evidently be ignored. (Ed. Note: italics mine)
Most everyone in the national political press corps and roughly the same number of “traditional” Republicans want the analyses quoted above to be true.
One way to find out is to call 1-800-Kevin McCarthy.