Last night Los Angeles' favorite congressman, Ted Lieu, told me that "We are in a truly perilous period for our republic. One of our two major political parties has abandoned reality and continues to spoon-feed its gullible base dangerous conspiracy theories. As more and more ridiculous predictions don't come to fruition-- like that Trump will be 'reinstated' as president in August (he won't)-- and the most fervent of their base become more and more agitated, I do fear that some people could become violent. It wouldn't be the first time as the January 6th insurrection clearly illustrates. Republican leaders-- including Members of the House and Senate, as well as the former President-- could take one simple step that would significantly reduce the chances of political violence. They could stop lying to their extremist base and admit that the 2020 election was not stolen. Sadly, 'Repulbican leadership' is something of an oxy-moron these days."
On Monday the Tampa Bay Times published a bizarre report by Romy Ellenbogen on the hot GOP primary for the St Petersburg district (CD-13) being abandoned by Blue Dog Charlie Crist in his absurd run for governor. One of the crackpot candidates, Anna Paulina Luna, reported Ellenbogen, has obtained a stalking injunction against one of her soon-to-be opponents, William Braddock, saying he and two other potential candidates conspired to kill her. Luna wrote "I received information yesterday (at midnight) regarding a plan (with a timeline) to murder me made by William Braddock in an effort to prevent me from winning the election for FL-13." Also named in the injunction are supposed co-conspirators, Republicans Matt Tito and Amanda Makki. Braddock noted that "This woman is off her rocker and she does not need to be representing anyone... I didn’t do anything wrong. It is a false police report and she’s probably going to jail for filing a false police report."
They all sound pretty crazy. But why would anyone sane be running for office as a Republican at this point? Yesterday the House voted 406-21 to award Congressional Gold Medals to police officers who defended the Capitol during the violent Jan. 6 coup attempting and riot. The 21 sociopaths who opposed the resolution were all Trump ass-kissers currying his favor, several of them being investigated for their own roles in the insurrection. These are the GOP spokesmodels who voted against the police:
Andy Biggs (AZ)
Lauren Boebert (Q-CO)
Michael Cloud (R-TX)
Andrew Clyde (Tourist-GA)
Warren Davidson (R-OH)
Matt Gaetz (Pedofile-FL)
Louie Gohmert (R-TX)
Bob Good (R-VA),
Paul Gosar (R-AZ)
Marjorie Taylor Green (Q-GA)
Andy Harris (R-MD)
Jody Hice (R-GA)
Thomas Massie (R-KY)
Mary Miller (Q-IL)
Barry Moore (R-AL
Ralph Norman (R-SC)
Scott Perry (R-PA)
John Rose (R-TN)
Matt Rosendale (R-MT)
Chip Roy (R-TX)
Greg Steube (R-FL)
Also yesterday, CNN analyst Chris Cillizza reported that McConnell and Señor Trumpanzee are on a collision course over the midterms. Godzilla vs Kong? McConnell told right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt that "There's no question that in order to win, you have to, in most states that are going to determine who's in the majority next time, you have to appeal to a general election audience. And some of the candidates who filed in these primaries clearly aren't. I'll be keeping an eye on that. Hopefully, we won't have to intervene. But if we do, we will." McConnell is planning to intervene in races where Trump is interfering, especially Alaska, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, Missouri, Arizona, Georgia, Alabama and Nevada.
McConnell's statement is rightly understood as a warning to former President Donald Trump, who has said repeatedly of late that he wants to play a very active role in the 2022 campaign.
While Trump hasn't set out any sort of guidelines for which candidates he will endorse and why, we have some strong clues. Trump likes people (and politicians) who like him. The more you praise Trump (and adhere to his increasingly-wild conspiracy theories), the more favorably inclined he is toward you.
Which, you will notice, has nothing to do whether a candidate has the best chance of winning a seat in next November's general election. Trump is about Trump-- and his endorsements seem very likely to echo that self-focus. McConnell, like him or hate him, has long been focused on the Party, and securing as many seats as possible for the GOP.
Those two views will, inevitably collide.
In fact, it's already happening in Alaska. Trump has gone after Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) over and over again-- following her vote to impeach him for his actions (and inaction) during the January 6 US Capitol riot. "I think she will be met very harshly by the Alaska voters in 15 months, and I will be there to campaign against her!" Trump promised in a statement last week. Trump has not yet endorsed a candidate against Murkowski, but Kelly Tshibaka, a former Alaska Department of Administration commissioner, has announced her candidacy and is openly casting herself as a Trump-ier alternative to the incumbent.
That's a problem for McConnell. Because senators ALWAYS support senators running for reelection except under extreme circumstances. And the Senate Leadership Fund, the super PAC close to McConnell, has already endorsed Murkowski-- saying that she "embodies the long Alaska tradition of effective Republican leadership that gets results for the state and its citizens."
While Alaska is the only Senate race where McConnell and Trump are at odds at the moment, it seems very unlikely it will be the last.
Take Missouri. The GOP field in the open-seat race to replace retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R) is getting very crowded, with Rep. Vicky Hartzler the latest entrant. That sort of jumble within the GOP field plays into the hands of former Gov. Eric Greitens, the controversial former governor who resigned following the testimony of a woman who felt forced into sexual acts by him and alleged that he had threatened to release explicit photos of her if she revealed their relationship. (Greitens previously denied that he had ever blackmailed or threatened the woman.)
Greitens has overtly positioned himself as the Trump candidate in the race. "I think that now the people of Missouri need a fighter in the United States Senate," Greitens said in a video announcing his candidacy earlier this year. "They need somebody who's going to go as I will, as I'm committed to do, to defending President Trump's America First policies and also to protecting the people of Missouri from Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer's radical leftist agenda."
...A Trump endorsement of Greitens would likely ensure the former governor would be the GOP nominee-- and the race would immediately be more competitive for Democrats in the general election.
Earlier this month at a rally in North Carolina, Trump surprised, well, everyone by endorsing Rep. Ted Budd (R) in the race to replace retiring Sen. Richard Burr (R). In choosing Budd, Trump not only passed over former Gov. Pat McCrory but also took a shot at him in his speech. "You can't pick people that have already lost two races," said Trump of McCrory. "You can't pick people that have already lost two races, that do not stand for our values." (McCrory lost governor's races in 2008 and 2016). McCrory is widely regarded as the GOP candidate with the broadest appeal in a general election.
In Pennsylvania, Trump favorite Sean Parnell has announced his campaign and is campaigning for a Trump endorsement in a crowded primary. (Parnell, who lost to Rep. Conor Lamb in 2020, spoke at the Republican National Convention.) In Georgia, Trump has suggested his preferred candidate is former NFL star Herschel Walker, who does not currently live in the state. (Walker was at Trump's New Jersey golf club on Monday night to celebrate the former president's 75th birthday.) In Arizona, Trump has badmouthed attorney general Mark Brnovich, who is running for Senate already, and Gov. Doug Ducey, who most Republicans believe is their strongest potential candidate against freshman Sen. Mark Kelly.
In short: There are a WHOLE lot of races where Trump has either already begun to meddle or where the ground for his involvement is fertile. The real question is not whether Trump will pick sides in these races. He will. The real issue is how hard McConnell (and his aligned super PAC) push back-- and who wins.
CNN ran another report, this one by Gabby Orr and Alex Rogers, at the same time as Cillizza's: Potential red flag: Trump struggles to clear Senate GOP fields. So far, Trump has been failing-- in Alabama where he endorsed the fascist candidate, Mo Brooks, and in North Carolina, where he endorsed the weakest candidate, Ted Budd.
"The increasing number of Republican Senate hopefuls who have deferred their political futures to Trump," wrote Orr and Rogers, "has raised new questions about the former President's influence, right as he weighs a comeback bid in 2024 that aides say will hinge, in part, on how well Trump-backed candidates perform in the midterm elections next fall. Rather than dropping out or reconsidering the viability of their campaigns, GOP candidates who have endured Trump's wrath or missed out on his endorsement are taking a different approach. While aligning themselves with Trump on various issues, they are also refraining from supporting his false claims about the 2020 election-- hoping the two-track approach will afford them a primary win and position them as the strongest candidate against their future Democratic opponent. 'Trump's presence looms over every race in ways that have a profound effect on the field, eliciting allies and rooting out foes, but the nod is diminished when every Republican is effectively running as a Trump-aligned candidate,' GOP strategist Liam Donovan said... A person involved in Trump's post-presidential operation said his inability to effectively clear the field in both Alabama and North Carolina was 'a potential red flag,' particularly as he weighs endorsements in other high-profile Senate primaries, such as those unfolding in Ohio and Missouri."
To be sure, Trump still holds power over Republicans seeking higher office. Last week, Arizona, state attorney general Brnovich entered the Senate race against Jim Lamon, a solar energy entrepreneur, and Retired Maj. Gen. Michael "Mick" McGuire even though Trump had blasted him for not supporting his false claims of widespread election fraud in the state.Lamon has taken to the airwaves in a bid for Trump's attention and possible endorsement, airing a TV ad on enhanced border security in New Jersey, where Trump is spending the summer at his Bedminster golf club.