Wednesday, Feb. 01, 2023|
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One result from Tuesday’s midterm elections is already clear: Donald Trump’s political touch is anything but golden. The former president’s favored candidates largely tumbled as voters recoiled from their extremism.
Trump’s Svengali-like hold over the GOP is based mostly in fear that he’ll whip his followers into a frenzy against any Republican who crosses him. (Just ask Mike Pence.) But what happened Tuesday should convince Republicans that the threat of bucking Trump isn’t as politically dangerous to their party as embracing him.
As the vote-counting continues, Republicans might still retake the House, as has been long expected, with the Senate remaining a tossup. But make no mistake: The GOP’s undeniable failure to meet expectations in this election was in large part directly attributable to Trump’s disastrous role as self-appointed kingmaker.
In congressional and state-level primaries around the country earlier this year, he bigfooted again and again to back the Republican candidates most solicitous to him and his election fraud lies, rather than those with the best chances to win.
The consequences were clear Tuesday in contests like Pennsylvania’s Senate race. Democratic victor John Fetterman was viewed by many as too far left, then he suffered a stroke that impeded his ability to campaign.
But he had one thing in his favor: Republican opponent Mehmet Oz, a celebrity quack doctor who Trump muscled onto the ballot over better candidates because he obediently parroted Trump’s lies.
Trump reserves special ire for the few congressional Republicans who responsibly voted for his impeachment. He made sure that two of them, Reps. Peter Meijer of Michigan and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington state, failed to win their primaries, getting Trumpian candidates onto the ballot instead. As of Thursday, the GOP had lost the Michigan seat and was on the verge of losing in Washington.
It was Trump who helped saddle Georgia Republicans with scandal-wracked Senate nominee Herschel Walker.
In May, Trump predicted
that Walker’s only problem would be having to share the ballot with Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican who displeased Trump by disputing his election lies.
On Tuesday, Kemp won reelection with more than 53% of the vote, while Walker got 48% — about 1 point less than Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock.
Since neither Walker nor Warnock hit 50%, they will compete in a runoff next month. Warnock and fellow Georgia Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff both were elected in 2021 runoffs in which Republican turnout was tamped down by Trump’s false claims that the state’s elections were corrupt.
In other words, Democrats largely have Trump to thank for their current control of the Senate — and he may yet help them keep it.
As tempting as it is to cheer on Republicans’ self-sabotaging fealty to this bull in their political china shop, they would help both their party and their country by finally pushing him out.
— St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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