This morning, Public Citizen and a gaggle of the good government groups sent out an open letter to Americans, making the point that Trump poses a real and substantial threat to democracy and to civic peace. "It’s crucial," wrote the author, "that the stewards of the institutions that protect and defend democracy respond to the ongoing legitimization of political violence and invocation of the pardon power to defend insurrectionists. Federal and state prosecutors can and should evaluate whether the former President’s public and private actions to date constitute obstruction of justice. The U.S. government must not allow conspirators at any level of government to evade accountability for subversion, sedition, or inciting an armed insurrection to try to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power."
That Trump is a real problem. I've been telling' ya. Oh, and so is that horrible political party he now owns fully and completely. This morning Politico published an essay by David Siders, GOP plunges into season of ‘self-hate’ that will rewire the party, giving Republicans a taste of what Trumpism means for anyone who is unwilling to toe the line 100%. (Keep in mind, 99% isn't enough-- Trump is now starting to turn against 1/6 insurrectionist Mo Brooks because he, among other things, said something nice about Trump's former Attorney General and ex-ally Jeff Sessions. Trump is so pissed off at Brooks that he actually met with Brooks' arch rival, Katie Britt at Mar-A-Lago on Tuesday!)
Siders introduced his topic by asserting that "Republicans are embarking on a primary season that is poised to reshape the GOP for a generation." Will they soon all be wearing lederhosen and singing the "Horst Wessel" song? No doubt, but that isn't Siders' point. (As you probably know "Horst-Wessel-Lied" has been banned in Germany and Austria since 1945-- but not in Bayonne or the Texas Hill Country.)
Siders predicts that the results of the coming primaries will cement "a more populist orientation for the GOP and Donald Trump’s status as the party’s lodestar, or setting a more traditionally conservative course. These aren’t simple match-ups between Trump and anti-Trump forces, or isolated intraparty feuds. Safely ensconced Republican officeholders are being bombarded by challengers from coast to coast, in many cases spurred on by Trump directly. Redistricting and retirements have further scrambled the established order in many places, opening up seats and drawing fields filled with combative candidates eager to move the party in a different direction. Combine that with high levels of energy-- and anger-- in the party base, and it’s a recipe to remake the party from the ground up."
“Primaries are always fucked up to some degree, but it’s different now,” said John Thomas, a Republican strategist who works on House campaigns across the country. “There’s more self-hate than there was before. Ten years ago, we’d argue about who was more pro-gun, who was more pro-life. Now, my clients are going RINO hunting, which is a level of disdain that was not there before in our party.”
Much of the churn is due to forces unleashed by Trump. The defeated president’s iron grip on the party and level of involvement in midterm primaries is unprecedented in modern history, and he continues to advance his lie that the 2020 election was stolen. The Republican electorate overwhelmingly agrees with him, furious at Republican politicians who resisted overturning the election. Not only do Republican primary voters nearly uniformly believe that the country is heading in the wrong direction, a common sentiment for the out-of-power party, but they are seething-- about the last election, about Joe Biden’s Washington, about two years of a pandemic.
“The confluence of the pandemic, the manner in which Trump practiced his politics-- just pure, in your face-- you throw in a healthy dose around what is being taught in our schools, it’s just a cocktail of people being really just mad, beyond the pale of what I would say is traditional political discourse,” said John Watson, a former chair of the Georgia Republican Party. “There’s not another moment in my life that you just feel viscerally that the country is in many ways at its own throat.”
Evidence of the party’s unrest is everywhere. Nearly a half-dozen GOP governors are facing competitive primary challenges, ranging from Ohio, where Gov. Mike DeWine is facing a primary challenge from former Rep. Jim Renacci, to Idaho, where conservative Gov. Brad Little is being challenged by his lieutenant governor, Janice McGeachin, who is trying to outflank him on the right.
In the South, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has eight Republicans running against her, including at least two with significant resources. Next door in Georgia, former Sen. David Perdue, with Trump’s support, is running to unseat Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. In Texas, Trump’s endorsed candidate, Gov. Greg Abbott, faces multiple challengers from his right, including Allen West, the former Florida congressman and former chair of the Texas Republican Party.
...Few Republicans have been spared from the unrest, even in some of the reddest states. In Oklahoma, the state Republican Party chair is endorsing a primary challenge to GOP Sen. James Lankford, who infuriated Trump by voting to uphold the results of the November election. In Arkansas, Dick Uihlein, one of the GOP’s biggest donors, has put $1 million into a campaign to defeat incumbent Sen. John Boozman.
...In part, this year’s abundance of primary challenges is an exercise in opportunism. Trump’s sudden and rapid rise in politics has encouraged other non-office holders to run for lower office, while a favorable midterm election climate this year for Republicans-- with historical trends and Biden’s dismal public approval ratings on their side-- has made the chance of winning in a general election better than it has been since before Trump took office.
“If you’re smart, you know winning the nomination in this cycle is 90 percent of winning,” said Dave Carney, the Republican strategist who advises Abbott.
For a Republican who wants to hold office, he said, a primary nomination is “now worth fighting for.”
The results of the primaries will be interpreted, most of all, as a measure of Trump’s influence over the party. He has endorsed roughly 100 candidates so far in the current election cycle, ranging from Senate and gubernatorial contests to state legislative and local races.
...The outcome will put a stamp on the party regardless of how Trump’s endorsed candidates perform in November or whether he runs for president again in 2024. That’s one lesson from the tumultuous 2010 midterms. While the tea party ultimately faded out, veterans of that class included Sens. Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, both of whom went on to run for president in 2016, as well as Kristi Noem, Tim Scott and Mike Pompeo, three politicians who may run for president or contend for vice president in 2024.
Twelve years after the 2010 election, said Jay Williams, a Georgia-based Republican strategist, “I think you’ve got a bunch of these folks out there being more willing to just like be flamethrowers than they used to be, and you also have the dynamic of, there’s not as much of these corporate Republicans anymore.”
In the primary landscape of 2022, he said, “You can’t run one of these traditional campaigns where you’re just, ‘I want to close the border and lower taxes and stuff … You’ve got to focus on the anger-- election integrity, borders and Covid mandates … And you’ve got to be very aggressive about it.”
The problem here is that the primary voters may well puke up candidates who can win among hard core GOP primary voters but who can't win general elections. Missouri is good example. In fact in 2012, the Democrats had an especially bad candidate running for reelection in Missouri, coward and conservative Claire McCaskill. There was no way she could win. However, McCaskill now admits that she helped undermine the mainstream GOP candidates so that a very far right-- and very crazy-- extremist, Todd Akin, would win the primary. She then beat him 1,494,125 (54.8%) to 1,066,159 (39.1%)... and on the same day that Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama 1,482,440 (53.8%) to 1,223,796 (44.4%). Obama won 4 counties; McCaskill won dozens of counties.
Today the Democrats actually have a great candidate in Lucas Kunce and the Republicans are flirting with one even worse than Akin, disgraced former governor Eric Greitens. Rachel Bade termed the GOP primary a clown show today. Polls show Greitens winning the primary. Polls also show Kunce closing the gap between himself and Greitens, the GOP's Missouri nightmare. The other senator, popular crackpot Josh Hawley, just endorsed Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a relatively mainstream conservative-- causing another congressman and candidate, Billy Long, to go on an extended rant against Hawley. A few days later Ted Cruz then endorsed Missouri Attornet General Eric Schmitt, like Hartzler, a relatively mainstream conservative.
Bade wrote that "There's one man who they all agree could clear the field." Obviously that's Señor Trumpanzee. "[I]f he backed Hartzler alongside Hawley, many think this primary would be over. But Trump feels burned by some of his previously endorsed candidates who’ve fizzled out, and has been reluctant to wade in unless he’s sure he’s backing a winner." Trump world characters are being paid by the various candidates to push their cause with Trump. Kellyanne Conway is being paid by Long. Kimberly Guilfoyle-- Trumpanzee Jr's hoe-- is being paid by Greitens (who has also got fellow corruptionist Ryan Zinke on his team, as well as crackpots Michael Flynn, Rudy Giuliani, Sebastian Gorka, Benie Kerik, Joseph DiGenova and Victoria Toesing... every bribable Trump-World sociopath he could find). Schmitt also has one of the Trump acting Attorney Generals, Matthew Whitaker and, perhaps more important, Peter Thiel, who pays off Trump for endorsing his candidates.
Greitens is the only candidate, so far, to pledge to oppose McConnell as party leader in return for a Trump endorsement. Trump also feel a certain kinship with Greitens because they are both sexual predators. So we'l have to see.