This 'bitter' congressional Primary Battle in Texas speaks volumes about today’s Trumpified GOP: reporter

This 'bitter' congressional Primary Battle in Texas speaks volumes about today’s Trumpified GOP: reporter

In Texas’ 8th Congressional District, Republicans Christian Collins and Morgan Luttrell are engaged in a bitter, ugly primary battle to show who is the most MAGA of the two — and now, Luttrell’s supporters are slamming Collins for a college thesis that he wrote in 2013, when he argued that the GOP needed to improve its Latino outreach. The Daily Beast’s Sam Brodey takes a look at this wacky primary in an article published on February 9, describing it as a perfect example of former President Donald Trump’s ongoing influence in the Republican Party.

Brodey explains, “In the primary in Texas’ 8th District — one of the party’s most hotly contested internal contests anywhere — the entire Trump-era Republican playbook is on display. On steroids.”

Collins and Luttrell have both been portraying themselves as immigration hardliners. But back in 2013, when Collins was a student at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, he wrote a thesis that discussed Republic Mitt Romney’s loss to President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election. Romney, Collins argued, hurt his campaign by failing to resonate with Latinos, including immigrants from Latin America.

The Collins of 2013 wrote that Romney “neglected to make Hispanics feel included in his vision for America,” adding, “Republicans obviously need to do something, because what they have been doing is not working.”

Brodey explains, “Republicans, of course, did something: the opposite. Donald Trump later won the presidency by pouring gas on the ‘nativist drift’ that Collins had decried in his thesis. Meanwhile, Collins himself has totally rejected his own advice from 2013. Now claiming the mantle of a MAGA warrior, he’s running a campaign for a Houston-area congressional seat using anti-immigration rhetoric that makes Romney’s comments look quaint.”

The Beast reporter adds, “In this competitive GOP primary in a ruby-red district, that’s hardly a liability. What is a liability is the fact that Collins once advocated the position that Republicans should moderate their tone on immigration.”

Brandon Rottinghaus, who teaches political science at the University of Houston, describes the Collins/Luttrell battle as an example of candidates believing that extreme rhetoric is the best way to win over GOP primary voters.

Rottinghaus told the Beast, “It’s a national primary, despite the fact that it’s in a sleepy little part of East Texas. Especially given where it is in this very red part of Texas, you have to give an edge to the candidate who can appeal to the most conservative issues. They’re looking for a bomb-thrower; they’re looking for the next Ted Cruz.”

Collins, Brodey notes, has done everything he can to bury the 2013 thesis, which has disappeared from Liberty University’s website. And the nativist anti-immigrant rhetoric that Collins now espouses is evident in tweets like the one he posted on September 28, 2021, when he wrote, “Immigration without assimilation leads to a disintegration of our society.”

Brodey observes, “With very little daylight between the two frontrunners on ideology, or on the most important thing in today’s GOP — fealty to Trump — the contest in Texas’ 8th District has become an increasingly personal and bitter fight over what constitutes a real Republican these days. And the choice that primary voters make could actually signal what kind of Republican that safely red seats like this one will send to Congress this year.”

Collins, according to Brodey, has been bashing Luttrell as a RINO (Republican In Name Only) for allegedly soliciting a campaign donation from Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois — an outspoken Trump critic who is one of the two Republicans on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s select committee on the January 6, 2021 insurrection. The other is Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming.

During a recent debate, Collins slammed Kinzinger, a military veteran, as a “traitor to our country” — and Luttrell, also a veteran, responded that while he disagrees with Kinzinger’s anti-Trump positions, “He fought in a war for his country. Did you? No, you didn't.”

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