Donald Trump's 'troublemaking' could end up benefitting Democrats: columnist
The 2022 midterm elections are less than seven months away and Republican candidates and incumbents alike are banking on big wins for their party, potentially flipping the United States House of Representatives as well as the Senate. Now, as primary season kicks off, one presence looms over the GOP's chances – former President Donald Trump.
The ex-commander in chief has thrown his weight behind a handful of congressional and gubernatorial hopefuls. But will that turn out to be a boon or a burden? And for whom?
On Monday, Washington Post opinion columnist Jennifer Rubin wondered if Trump's blessings could translate into wins – for Democrats.
"Trump has an uncanny ability to find the most unqualified crackpots, dissemblers and candidates with histories of alleged abuse for his endorsements. Shocking, I know, that Trump would gravitate to such candidates," Rubin began.
"This pick set off a firestorm of criticism, some from within his closest circle of advisers. Should Oz win the primary, Democrats no doubt will be relieved to have a mountain of opposition material to deploy in the key swing state," Rubin predicted.
In Georgia, Trump has championed former football player Herschel Walker in his campaign to oust incumbent Democratic Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock.
Walker, however, "has ducked debates, questioned evolution, allegedly exaggerated his business success and admitted to abusive behavior toward his ex-wife, for which he says he is 'accountable,'" Rubin noted, adding that Trump's support of a frenetic candidate could stimy the GOP.
"Warnock might get a break if Walker becomes his opponent," she said.
Trump's brand has also worked its way into other key races. Although he has yet to endorse far-right candidates JD Vance or Josh Mandel, who are duking it out for the Republican nomination for Senate in Ohio, Trump's vibe is very much alive.
In that race, the battle is on for which man can out-Trump the other, and it may spell defeat for both of them.
"Democratic front-runner Tim Ryan would no doubt rather one of them prevail than Matt Dolan, the state senator and part-owner of the Cleveland Guardians, who insists on talking about the issues," wrote Rubin.
And then there are two high-profile gubernatorial races that are soaked in Trumpism and which Rubin believes could go badly for Republicans.
The first is in Georgia, where incumbent Republican Governor Brian Kemp is facing a primary challenge from ex-Senator David Perdue. Recall that Kemp – along with Georgia's Republican Secretary of State Brian Raffensperger – refused to overturn President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory in the 2020 election.
Naturally, Trump has endorsed Perdue, who "has leaped into the mosh pit of conspiracy theories," Rubin quipped. Indeed, Perdue was but one of scores of GOP lawmakers to object to Biden's win. He lost his Senate race in 2020 to Democrat Jon Ossoff.
"Kemp is leading the race," Rubin pointed out, "but it’s not clear if Perdue/Trump supporters will turn out for Kemp in the general election."
The second Trump-tainted gubernatorial spectacle is in Arizona.
Incumbent GOP Governor Doug Ducey has exhausted his two terms. Like Kemp in Georgia, Ducey also declined to decertify the outcome of the 2020 election after Biden won the Grand Canyon State and its 11 Electoral College votes. The margin was less than 11,000 ballots, prompting a wave of pointless audits and multiple recounts at the behest of Trump and his aggrieved cult.
Former television anchor Kari Lake emerged as a deafening voice parroting Trump's "Big Lie."
Lake, whose likely opponent in the general election is Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, "might be the most dogged Trump sycophant among his endorsees," Rubin explained. "As CNN reported last year: 'Lake has baselessly advocated the imprisonment of state Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is now running for governor, over unspecified election crimes; there is simply no sign Hobbs broke the law. Lake has also pushed for the imprisonment of unspecified journalists she claims have told lies about the election and other subjects.'"
Thus, with that much enthusiasm propping up controversial candidates and regurgitating debunked conspiracy theories, the GOP's Trump faction is walking a tight rope with voters in 2022 and beyond.
"Republicans should understand that Trump will never stop dwelling on his 2020 loss — even if it drags the whole party down with him," Rubin concluded. "They should keep that in mind for 2024."
Rubin's full editorial is available here (subscription required).
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