Central New York's 24th congressional district, centered around Syracuse, is a swing district-- but not swingy enough to embrace Trump's ugly brand of fascism. Trump lost it both times he ran, narrowly in 2016-- 3 and a half points-- and much more widely in 2020-- by 9 points. In neither year was mainstream conservative incumbent John Katko dragged down by Trump. In 2016, he beat Democrat Colleen Deacon 182,761 (60.6%) to 119,040 (39.4%) and in 2016 he beat Dana Balter, a much better candidate, 182,668 (53.2%) to 147,721 (43.0%). But yesterday, Katko announced he would not be running for reelection. He had voted to impeach Trump and Trump was after his scalp. He probably could have won a general election-- especially if the DCCC manages to get one of their worthless conservatives candidates nominated-- but it would have been extremely hard for Katko to win the Republican primary, more proof that there's no room in today's cult-like GOP for anyone unwilling to bow down and kiss Trump's ass-- ardently and in all things. Trump publicly cheered the Katko announcement, even though it means the GOP will have to spend millions of dollars there to stay competitive and that there's now a better than 50-50 chance that the seat will flip blue: "Great news, another one bites the dust. Katko, from Upstate New York, is gone!"
This morning, AP reporter Jill Clovin wrote about the Trump kiss of death syndrome stalking Republican candidates in swing districts as Trump steps up his election-year effort to dominate the party he considers an offshoot of his own bruised by still raging ego. She noted that "there are small signs that some Republicans are tiring of the charade. Mike Rounds, the generally unassuming senator from South Dakota, was perhaps the boldest in acknowledging the reality that the election was in fact fair. Instead of being shunned, he was supported by his GOP colleagues, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. Rounds later said the party needed to get 'louder' in telling voters the truth about the 2020 campaign."
Meanwhile, top Republicans in Washington have engaged in a behind-the-scenes effort to encourage Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, one of Trump’s most vocal antagonists in the party, to run for a Senate seat. And on Saturday, Glenn Youngkin will become the first Republican since 2010 to be sworn in as Virginia’s governor after running a campaign that kept Trump at arm’s length.
Less than two months before the 2022 primary season begins, Trump remains the most popular figure among the voters who will decide which Republicans advance to the fall general election. But the recent dynamics bring new clarity to the debate that will likely animate the GOP all year: how closely GOP candidates should align themselves with Trump and his election lie.
“I was very encouraged by the response from a number of different senators supportive of Sen. Rounds,” said former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has been a rare Republican urging the party to move on from Trump and his election obsession.
...Still, dissent from Trump’s election lie within the GOP remains rare. From Ohio to Georgia and Arizona, candidates running for Senate, governor and attorney general have fully embraced Trump’s falsehoods as they have tried to win over his endorsement, deflect his fury or win over his base.
In the short term, such positioning may help Republican candidates come out on top in primary fields that are often crowded. But there are concerns that it could hurt the party in the fall, especially among suburban voters who have become increasingly decisive in recent campaigns. The further to the right that Republicans go now, the easier it could become for their Democratic rivals to portray them as extreme in a general election.
...Many Republicans still blame Trump for the party’s loss of Georgia’s two Senate runoff elections in 2021, arguing he depressed turnout by insisting the election would be rigged, denying them control of the Senate. (Trump has argued that further investigation is the only way to instill confidence in future elections.)
“Trump still has this outsized voice and influence and too many candidates fear his wrath,” said Charlie Dent, a former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania and Trump critic. “We know Donald Trump will use his megaphone to condemn those who don’t buy his lies and his false narrative on the 2020 election. So these candidates are put in bind: If they tell the truth, they run the risk of losing their primaries and incurring the wrath of Trump, and if they acquiesce and go along with this nonsense, they run the risk of alienating a lot of voters.”
...Barbara Comstock, a Trump critic and former GOP congresswoman from Virginia, warned Republicans risked nominating fringe candidates who would go on to lose in the general.
“Republicans feel like they’re gong to win no matter whose on the ticket. And I don’t agree with that thesis,” she said, pointing to Ohio, where Senate candidates have been trying to desperately out-Trump one another. “I think you really are taking a chance in blowing reliable races.”
This morning Yahoo News reported that Georgia's Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan said the GOP is at a crossroads as the 2022 midterm elections approach. Duncan, a lifelong conservative: "We're either gonna placate and play populism one on one and try to live 10 seconds at a time, or we're gonna put genuine leadership on display. I don't think Tucker Carlson or Ted Cruz are the leaders of our party. I think that would take us in the wrong direction just from tone alone. It's time to turn the page. It's time to move on."
Duncan, Georgia’s second in command behind Gov. Brian Kemp, also a Republican, catapulted himself into the national spotlight over the last 14 months after going toe-to-toe with former President Donald Trump over Trump's unfounded claims of election fraud. Trump called Duncan “corrupt” and “too dumb” to recognize voter fraud in December 2020 and said he should be “replaced.” But at a time when many Republican leaders backed Trump’s lies or stayed silent, Duncan pushed back.
“When you have a sitting president willing to lie to America and to their party about what the true realities of the election were and willing to stoke the fire and send out incredibly hateful tweets and cause all types of disruptions, including [the Capitol riot on] Jan. 6, to play out, then of course it's gonna take some time to unwind those comments and that kind of ideology,” Duncan said.
...Looking to push the idea of rebranding the Republican Party, Duncan has shifted his focus on building an advocacy organization called GOP 2.0, which he says advocates for putting policy above politics.
“We forgot to be more inclusive and grow the size of the tent, and we forgot to have an encouraging tone,” Duncan said. “That's not some sort of election fraud. That's our fault as a party.”
“That's what GOP 2.0 is in the process of trying to unwind — that damage — and really try to put a safe place to call home for folks like me that are fired-up conservatives,” he added. “I believe in the conservative principles from start to finish. I just don't think I gotta be angry when I do it.”
Duncan has decided not to run for reelection this fall. He says he’s instead looking to connect with Americans all over the country through speeches, media events and a new book. Eventually, though, he hopes to run for elected office again in the future.
“I love the job of lieutenant governor, but I can't have a conversation with America if I'm trying to run for reelection in just Georgia,” he said.
“I think so many people wake up now on both sides of the aisle and kind of think that our best, America's best days are behind us. That's not true. This is America. Our best days are in front of us,” he said. “We're going to be the proving ground for who is right.”
Yesterday, Donald McNeill wrote that "While Republican state legislatures are working hard to suppress the Democratic vote, an invisible opposing hand is working against them: God’s. The top five causes of death in this country, in order, are: heart disease, cancer, Covid, accidents and stroke. They all tend to smite the old, the obese and those who live far away from hospitals, i.e., rural red America. It’s a good bet that Donald Trump has finally seen the arithmetic on the wall. If he is to have even a prayer in 2024, he needs to slow down death rates among his supporters. Hence, the booster-backing." Over 90% of those dying over COVID-- one study showed 99%-- were unvaccinated and McNeill asked "Who are the unvaccinated? Back in May, they were no doubt a mix of Republicans and Democrats. Early on, for example, many black and Hispanic Americans were hesitant about vaccines. But that trend has shifted. Lots of black and Hispanic Americans came to accept the vaccines and employer mandates forced working Americans of all stripes to get them. Recent C.D.C. data cited by Kaiser Health News shows vaccine-resistance highest among whites. Earlier polls showed growing divisions along party and even religious lines (86 percent of Democrats vaccinated vs. 60 percent Republicans; 90 percent of atheists vs. 57 percent of white evangelicals). By September, the pattern was clear, according to David Leonhardt of the New York Times: Covid death rates were about three times higher in counties that had voted for Donald Trump in 2020... If 95 percent were unvaccinated and we assume that 75 percent of those were Trump supporters, that’s 1,300 to 1,900 of his voters being subtracted from the rolls every single day. Donald Trump lost Arizona by a mere 10,000 votes. He lost Georgia by 12,000, He lost Wisconsin by 21,000. He lost Nevada by 33,000. Right now, about 60 Arizonans, 36 Georgians, 34 Wisconsinites and 14 Nevadans are dying of Covid each day. Seventy five percent of 95 percent of that would be minus 103 Trump voters per day-- just in those four swing states. Week after week. That adds up."