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A Feature Of The Midterms Will Be The Trump Kiss Of Death For GOP Candidates


"The Kiss Of Death" by Nancy Ohanian

Trump spent a lot of time there but he lost New Hampshire both times he ran. In 2022, Hillary beat him narrowly but after 4 years of Trump's chaotic administration, Biden beat him more decisively-- 52.7% to 45.4%. In 2016 Trump won 6 of the state's 10 counties. In 2020, just 2. Both time Trump ran Chris Sununu was on the same ticket-- and both time Sununu won and Trump lost. In 2016, the gubernatorial election was for an open seat and Sununu outpolled Trump 48.8% to 47.2%. But in 2020, the difference was gigantic. Sununu one very single county and took 516,609 votes (65.1%) to Trump's meager 365,654 (45.4%). So for Trump to be threatening Sununu is kind of a laugh. But...


Trumpist clown and sex predator Cory Lewandowski, who is working for Massachusetts crackpot Geoff Diehl in his hopeless gubernatorial run, was on a right-wing talk show yesterday. Lewandowski said Trump is "very unhappy" with Sununu for having "never been loyal to him." Lewandowski told Howie Carr that Trump said "It would be great if someone would have run against Chris Sununu." He claims Trump tasked him with "finding someone to run against Chris Sununu to make sure they understand the America First Agenda is more than just a saying; it's actually about putting people first." It's actually about putting people first whose names are spelt T-R-U-M-P.


Trump's latest count of anti-Sununu mania is because the governor said he isn't interested in an endorsement from Trump for his reelection bid. I have a feeling there may be others who are also not interested in being endorsed by Trump. A couple of days ago, National Journal's Josh Kraushaar wrote that the candidates Trump has been endorsing aren't exactly raking in the big bucks. "It’s becoming clear Donald Trump’s popularity isn’t easily transferable to candidates who aren’t named Trump," he wrote. That was the most consequential finding from the fourth-quarter congressional fundraising reports filed Monday, covering the final three months of the 2021 calendar year. In the contested Senate primaries pitting a Trump-endorsed candidate against more-establishment contenders, not a single one of Trump’s picks hit the million-dollar mark this quarter. And several of his highly touted congressional candidates performed dismally among donors in the quarter, with most getting outraised badly against more-mainstream alternatives. 'A lot of candidates thought that the Trump endorsement automatically meant they’d raise a lot of money. They didn’t realize you have to do the work,' said one veteran GOP strategist. 'Trump has always been a better attacker than a booster. Only so many right-wing candidates can go on Fox News and OAN, or even get booked. Not every Trump-endorsed candidate is made to go and say crazy stuff on TV.'"


Trump’s favored candidates have never been particularly strong fundraisers, but the latest numbers made the depth of their financial struggles apparent. Rep. Alex Mooney of West Virginia, a Freedom Caucus member running against the more-moderate Rep. David McKinley in a member-member primary, raised only $190,000 in the quarter. McKinley, by contrast, raised more than three times that much-- $600,000—and supplemented that total with a half-million dollar check from his own bank account. Trump’s endorsement still may end up helping Mooney win, but it’s clearly not opening up the financial spigot for his ally’s campaign.
Rep. Mary Miller, a right-wing Trump ally, hasn’t yet benefited from her MAGA endorsement, which came right after the end of the filing period. Running against Rep. Rodney Davis in a member-member primary in Illinois, she brought in only $165,000 for the quarter. Davis was more prepared for a tough intraparty fight, raising $421,000 and banking $1.23 million.
In Alaska, Trump endorsed the state’s former Department of Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka to challenge Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the only GOP senator up in 2022 who voted for his impeachment. But Tshibaka has struggled to bring in much campaign cash, raising only $601,000 in the fourth quarter and ending the year with just $633,000 in cash on hand. Murkowski, by contrast, tallied $1.26 million and has a healthy $4.26 million in her campaign account.
And in Alabama, Rep. Mo Brooks raised a mere $386,000 in the state’s wide-open Senate primary, a pittance compared to his two leading opponents. Katie Britt, his chief rival endorsed by Sen. Richard Shelby, brought in $1.2 million this quarter, giving her $4 million in campaign cash. And Army veteran Michael Durant loaned his campaign $4 million this quarter, leaping ahead of Brooks on the financial front. Brooks has $1.97 million in his campaign account, lagging his rivals.
Several of Trump’s other favorites performed a bit more respectably on the fundraising front, but still fell short of expectations. Rep. Ted Budd led the Republican fundraising field in the North Carolina Senate contest, raising $968,000 in the fourth quarter but failed to hit the million-dollar mark, an easy benchmark for major Senate contenders. Likely Democratic nominee Cheri Beasley, a former state Supreme Court judge, brought in $2.1 million and banked $2.8 million, exceeding Budd on both fronts.
In Arizona, Trump-endorsed gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake raised $1.45 million throughout the entire year but has already spent most of it, according to a new filing. She has only $374,000 left in her campaign account, thanks to her excessive 74 percent burn rate. One leading Republican contender, businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robson, raised $1.7 million during the year and banked $3 million in her campaign account. Lake's other GOP rival, former Rep. Matt Salmon, raised $1.18 million but was more conservative with his spending than Lake. He now has more campaign cash ($492,000) in the run-up to a late-summer primary.
...[O]ther Trump-endorsed House candidates have been fundraising laggards. Former Trump staffer Max Miller, who originally intended to challenge Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, got off to a fast fundraising start when his campaign was premised on running against a congressman who backed impeachment. After Gonzalez announced his retirement, Miller's fundraising dried up; he brought in only $176,000 for the fourth quarter. And in Michigan, former Trump administration official John Gibbs raised only $51,000 in his attempt to primary another impeachment backer, Rep. Peter Meijer. Meijer raised $418,000 and has $1.22 million in the bank.
Perhaps the biggest test for Trump will be in Georgia, where the former president recruited former Sen. David Perdue to run against Gov. Brian Kemp, a onetime ally. Perdue hasn’t yet released his fundraising numbers, but Kemp is looking like a financial juggernaut, announcing $12.7 million cash-on-hand after raising $7.4 million since July 1. Kemp also happens to be leading in a new public poll, despite Trump’s endorsement of Perdue.

It isn't only fundraising that has people wondering if Trump's endorsement can work as a kiss of death. In Georgia, Trump never misses an opportunity to slam Kemp-- once even implying Stacey Abrams would make a better governor-- but, despite Trump's endorsement in December, current polling shows Kemp beating Perdue by 7 points. And because of Trump's active participation in Georgia politics, Stacey Abrams raised $9.25 million since December when she entered the race, far more than all the Republicans combined in the same time period. if you can, please help keep that going here.


CNN reported this morning that Trump is trying to get on of his puppets, Vernon Jones, to drop out of the Georgia gubernatorial race and endorse Perdue. He's offered a Trump endorsement in an open-seat congressional race in return. Jones hasn't made up his mind. "But either way," reported Gabby Orr, "his decision could pose an awkward problem for Trump. If Jones runs for the 10th congressional district, which is one of the seats he is considering, it would put Trump directly at odds with several members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who have already endorsed a different candidate in that contest. One Georgia Republican said the delegation would be frustrated if Jones launches a congressional bid there with Trump's official blessing. And if Jones rejects Trump's overture, it would be the second time in as many weeks that the former President has failed to clear the field for his preferred candidate. Trump attempted a similar maneuver in North Carolina, Trump-backed Rep. Ted Budd has failed to emerge as the definitive front-runner in a US Senate primary race against former Gov. Pat McCrory and former Rep. Mark Walker. Trump offered to endorse Walker if he dropped out and ran for a House seat, but the former congressman declined, leaving the contest a three-way race."


Those primary struggles are only adding to the growing frustrations that some of Trump's endorsements have created in certain corners of the GOP. With end-of-the-year finance reports now public, it's clear some of Trump's candidates have struggled to raise cash or pull ahead in the polls-- even as the former President built a massive war chest of his own last year.
Some of his staunchest allies have also expressed concern that the former President is choosing the wrong candidate in certain races. Trump sparked a rare backlash among some of his staunchest allies last week when he threw his weight behind Morgan Ortagus, a former State Department spokesperson during the Trump administration, for a Tennessee congressional district. That put Trump directly at odds with a number of prominent conservatives, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, who are backing another candidate-- Robby Starbuck-- for the seat instead.
...The dustup over the Tennessee race wasn't the first time in recent months that Trump's endorsement-- or lack thereof-- has unnerved those around him. In Texas, the former President's July endorsement of incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton drew criticism from some allies who worry that Paxton's ongoing legal troubles could haunt him in a general election and tarnish Trump's endorsement record. It harkened back to Trump's endorsement of Sean Parnell, who had to drop out of the Senate primary race in Pennsylvania after a judge ordered his estranged wife primary custody over their children.
The scandal-plagued Paxton, who was indicted in 2015 on securities fraud charges, currently faces a professional misconduct investigation by the Texas Bar Association for his lawsuit challenging the 2020 election results. Last Thursday, the Travis County District Attorney's office also ruled that Paxton had violated the state's open records law by failing to turn over his communications from a visit to Washington, DC, last January, when he attended Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally before rioters stormed the US Capitol.
"They all have my complete and total endorsement," Trump said at a rally near Houston last Saturday, name-checking Paxton.
...[I]n Missouri, Trump's lack of endorsement in the crowded Senate primary has also become a source of consternation for some in his circle. Like Paxton, former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who is leading the pack in most polls, has significant baggage that could alienate certain voters in a general election contest. Greitens resigned from office in 2018 in the midst of sexual misconduct allegations, an ethics probe and two criminal charges. Trump has heard from multiple allies who warn that Greitens could win the August primary if he doesn't intervene soon, according to a person familiar with the matter.
So far, however, Trump doesn't appear to be interested in endorsing an alternative candidate in the primary. One of the Trump allies who spoke with him about the race said he spoke positively of Missouri Rep. Billy Long and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt during a recent conversation but "wasn't gushing about either in a way that suggested he plans to endorse." In a statement to CNN, Greitens' campaign manager Dylan Johnson said the former Missouri governor "is the only true America First candidate in the race who will fight for President Trump's agenda." Johnson declined to address the pressure Trump is facing to endorse someone other than Greitens.

Noe let me take a brief moment to remind everyone that Lucas Kunce is the front-runner for the Missouri Senate seat and that he has a great chance to beat Greitens in November. There couldn't be a greater contrast between two candidates. Blue America is helping him raise campaign funds here.

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