Republicans run into early headwinds in two critical Senate races

Last year, Senate Republicans were already feeling so desperate about their upcoming midterm prospects that they rushed to wish Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa a speedy and full recovery from COVID-19 so that he could run for reelection in 2022. The power of incumbency is a huge advantage for any politician, and Republicans were clinging to the idea of sending Grassley—who will be 89 when the '22 general election rolls around—back to the upper chamber for another six-year term.  

GOP fortunes have improved slightly since then, with historical trends improving their midterm prospects since Democrats now control the White House and both chambers of Congress. But the Senate map is still a long ways away from a gimme for Republicans, and several recent developments have brought good news for Democrats. 

The first of those is a new poll from the Des Moines Register showing that nearly two-thirds of Iowa voters (64%) believe "it's time for someone else" to hold Grassley's seat versus the 27% who want to see the octogenarian reelected to an eighth term. Women voters were especially brutal, with seven out of ten saying they were ready to give Grassley the heave-ho.

Grassley's numbers with GOP voters lagged too, with just 51% committing to supporting him again, while just 7% of Democrats and 23% of independents agreed. Grassley's overall job approval clocked in at a meager 45%; it's his lowest level since 1982.

The poll, conducted by Selzer & Co., upends Republican thinking that another Grassley run could help safeguard the seat. In fact, Grassley may be a liability in the general election, or GOP primary voters may choose an alternative. In any case, Iowa's Senate race could prove more competitive than Republicans had hoped. 

Meanwhile, the GOP primary race for North Carolina's open Senate seat has been scrambled by Donald Trump's surprise endorsement of hard-right Congressman Ted Budd, according to Politico. Following Trump's input at the state party convention earlier this month, former North Carolina governor-turned-Senate candidate Pat McCrory rushed to dismiss the endorsement as falling "flat" in the room.

Now, retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr is coming to McCrory's rescue, reportedly arguing both publicly and privately that he is "the only one in the race" who can win the seat statewide. “Pat McCrory has a commanding advantage," Burr told Politico.

Burr, one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump of impeachment charges, also took a swipe at Trump's rationale, or lack thereof.

“I can’t tell you what motivates him," Burr said of Trump. "I’ve never seen individuals endorse a candidate a year before the primary. That’s unusual.”

Judging by Budd's own internal polling, Burr has a point. McCrory enjoys far higher statewide name recognition, and he's leading Budd by about two dozen points, 45%-19%. Another Republican contender, former Rep. Mark Walker, garners just 12% of the vote, with 23% still undecided. 

McCrory, who has been meeting with GOP senators to make his case, is running as an establishment Republican. Budd obviously occupies the Trump lane now. It's a scenario that could easily leave one side or the other feeling resentful depending on which Republican prevails, and any result on the GOP side could wind up depressing at least some general election turnout among Tar Heel Republicans.

But that’s the least of the GOP’s worries, according to McCrory’s camp, which is intent on catastrophizing the ultimate result of a Budd primary win.

“If Republicans want a majority in the U.S. Senate, they will nominate Pat McCrory,” said McCrory adviser Jordan Shaw. “Otherwise, Democrats are going to take this seat and keep the majority."

Mitch McConnell Warns He Could Intervene In 2022 GOP Primaries To Boost Establishment Candidates

On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) cautioned that he and those associated with him are ready to intervene in any Republican Senate primaries to defeat candidates he views as “unelectable.”

McConnell told radio host Hugh Hewitt that he, or a group closely linked to him called the Senate Leadership Fund (SLF), would be willing to get involved in any primary race.

McConnell replied to Hewitt, “If necessary. There’s no question that in order to win … you have to appeal to the general election audience. I’ll be keeping an eye on that. Hopefully we won’t have to intervene, but if we do, we will.”

Conservatives will no doubt view the comments from the establishment Republican as meaning McConnell will oppose grassroots conservatives or Trump-aligned Republicans.

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Trump Candidates Vs. McConnell Candidates

Mitch McConnell and his allies ready to jump into any GOP primary they think needs guidance sets up an interesting dynamic heading into 2022 for Republicans.

By all accounts, former President Donald Trump is the head of the party, and an endorsement from him will be sought by most candidates seeking office. 

So far, the SLF has endorsed one candidate on the opposite side of Trump: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

Murkowski, who voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment, has picked up a primary challenger – though Trump has not yet endorsed in that race.

Will McConnell try to woo candidates with cash? Probably so, but as  Trump’s popularity shows no signs of letting up, PACs that are associated with him are raising record amounts of cash.

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Will McConnell/SLF Candidates Water Down The GOP?

Back in February, McConnell stated that the thing he cared about the most was “electability.” Americans who want to elect Republicans are also concerned with electability, but at what cost? 

Is it possible that, if McConnell and his friends intervene in enough GOP primaries, would Trump supporters smell a rat, and be suspicious of McConnell of watering down the party until it is full of John McCains and Mitt Romneys?

Just more establishment RINOs who will cave to every liberal Democrat demand?

There is also the problem of McConnell intervention into races where the context of background surrounding candidates figures very heavily in the race. In Missouri for example, former Gov. Eric Greitens has thrown his hat in the ring to replace Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). Greitens resigned from the governorship after a sex scandal in 2018.

While Greitens may have name recognition which might give him a lead in the polls due to core support from those who don’t care about the reasons behind his ouster from the Governor’s mansion, and those who just know his name, does not mean he is the most popular with voters with knowledge of his background. 

Would not just Missouri voters, but voters in any state appreciate team McConnell swooping in to take over a primary election?

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The Task Republicans Must Focus On

The main task at hand for Republicans is taking both the House and the Senate back in 2022. Republicans must defend 20 seats, while Democrats must only defend 14.

Four of those seats were won by Democrats in 2020, and the GOP is hoping to flip them red. They are also looking at taking seats from Georgia, Arizona, and New Hampshire.

Jack Pandol, communications director for the SLF says that, “As has long been SLF’s policy, we reserve the right to intervene in cases where a candidate is a clear threat to lose a seat in a general election and to protect our Republican incumbents.”

Intervention by Mitch McConnell and friends could be seen as interfering with the will of the people, and nothing more than a power grab on his part.

Perhaps McConnell and the SLF should find out if the candidate in question is who Mitch McConnell wants or the people want. 

 

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Pro-McConnell PAC May Have Something To Say About Trump 2022 Endorsements

As 2022 gets closer, most Republicans know that Donald Trump plans to be an integral part of the campaign by endorsing candidates. But he may have some competition regarding which candidates have a better chance of beating Democrats.

The Senate Leadership Fund is aligned closely with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

While they are only on the opposite side of Trump in one race so far, (SLF has endorsed Lisa Murkowski) that could quickly change as the campaigns get under way.

Whose assessment will have more bite, the McConnell wing or the Trump wing?

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Possible Conflict Being Set Up

Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell, once portrayed by the media as working partners while Trump was in office, have exploded that narrative.

After McConnell blamed Trump for the Jan 6 protest at the Capitol, it became clear that a bigger crack up was in the works.

This sets up a possible interesting but risky state of affairs for the GOP.

With a 50-50 split in the Senate, and several key retirements taking place in five states, three of which might be described as fairly reliable red, Republicans want nothing left to chance with selecting candidates.

Jack Pandol, communications director for the Senate Leadership Fund stated, “As has long been SLF’s policy, we reserve the right to intervene in cases where a candidate is a clear threat to lose a seat in a general election and to protect our Republican incumbents.”

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Is McConnell Super PAC Endorsing McConnell Buddies?

Mitch McConnell stated early on what his goal for 2022 was, to get Republicans elected.

Back in February he said, “My goal is, in every way possible, to have nominees representing the Republican Party who can win in November. Some of them may be people the former president likes. Some of them may not be. The only thing I care about is electability.”

Is McConnell seeing to it that those seen as “establishment” Republicans get re-elected? 

Getting Republicans elected is good, but Mitch McConnell obviously has a personal stake in the outcome of the 2022 midterms. A victory puts him back in charge of the Senate. 

Murkowski, no fan of President Trump, was one of seven GOP Senators who voted to convict Trump during his impeachment trial after the Jan. 6 protest. 

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One Example

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee says that the NRSC will not get involved in open primaries. NRSC’s communications director Chris Hartline said that, “The NRSC has no interest spending any time or money attacking other Republicans. We started Day 1 defining Democrats across the country as the ultra-liberal, big-spending, open borders radicals that they are.” 

But there’s at least one set of circumstances, Axios points out, that SLF and NRSC may not be able to resist, such as the race in Missouri for the seat held currently by Roy Blunt.

Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who resigned following a sex scandal in 2018, is a candidate for the soon-to-be-open seat being vacated by Blunt. It is candidates like Greitens that McConnell and the establishment are concerned could get an endorsement from Donald Trump.

That might be a hefty endorsement in a state Trump won last time by 15 points.

Since Axios initially published their report, the president of SLF, Steven Law, claimed that the Trump vs. McConnell angle was wrong. 

Time will tell when the endorsements and donations start rolling out.

 

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Liz Cheney Says Her Re-Election Bid Will Be ‘Referendum On The Future Of The Republican Party’

On Wednesday, former GOP conference chair and Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney said that she sees her “re-election bid as a referendum on the future of the Republican Party.”

Cheney made her comments during an interview with the Wall Street Journal’s “Women, Power and Equity” event.

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Cheney: 2022 ‘Very Important In Terms Of The Future Of The Party’

Cheney said that voters are “potentially facing a choice between what she sees as traditional conservative values and loyalty to former President Donald Trump.”

She acknowledged that 2022 midterm election was going to be difficult for her, after she was booted from House Republican leadership earlier this month for repeatedly criticizing former President Donald Trump for his statements on the 2020 election.

Mrs. Cheney said the she “anticipates it’s going to be a hard-fought race.” She now also says openly she regrets ever supporting and voting for Trump.

“I really do think it’s one that will be a moment where the people of Wyoming can demonstrate to the country our commitment to the Constitution,” she said during her interview.

Cheney believes the 2022 election will be “very important in terms of the future of the party and the future of our republic.”

Cheney has at least four primary opponents so far – though she has outraised them all to this point.

Cheney Said She Refused To ‘Perpetuate The Lie’ That Trump Won The Election

Cheney was one of the ten Republicans who voted to impeach Trump during his second impeachment.

The Wyoming Republican said, “It became very clear that staying in leadership would require me to perpetuate the lie about the last election, perpetuate the big lie, perpetuate things that are dangerous.”

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Polls Not Looking Good For Cheney

She told the WSJ that “she hoped Republicans would begin to rally around traditional conservative policy issues like military spending” instead of Trump in the future.

A Club for Growth PAC poll showed earlier this month Cheney with a net negative image, with an unfavorable rating at 65 percent with a net rating of -36 percent.

52  percent also said they would rather vote for her opponent, no matter who it is. 

 

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Paul Ryan Set To Be Keynote Speaker At Never-Trumper Kinzinger’s Fundraiser

Former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) will be the keynote speaker on Monday at a fundraising event for anti-Trump Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). The event is a pricey one, according to Politico, ticket prices range from $250 to $11,600.

Kinzinger was one of ten Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump for what many critics of the former president say is his inciting of the riot that took place at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Kinzinger, who now regularly attacks Trump, may well pay a political price for being outspoken in his contempt of the former president.

Of the ten GOP House members who voted to impeach Trump, nine, including Kinzinger, have at least one 2022 primary challenger, and the they all have the attention of The Donald.

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Ryan Also A Critic Of Trump

Paul Ryan left Congress in 2019 after a number of GOP House members and Senators announced they would not be seeking re-election.

While the official reasons range from running for governorships to House members running for the Senate, to the old standby of “wanting to spend more time with my family,” there is some thought that many of those incumbent House members and Senators were done with Donald Trump.

In 2016, Ryan told Republicans that they “should feel free to abandon Trump,” making it pretty clear that there was no effort to encourage Republicans to work with Trump when he took office. 

Paul Ryan has also been a critic of Trump. He called efforts by Republicans to challenge electoral college votes for President Joe Biden “anti-democratic and anti-conservative.”

After the election, Ryan also said that Trump should accept the results of the 2020 election, and “embrace the transfer of power.” 

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Kinzinger, Other Never-Trumpers Portrayed By The Media As ‘Rebels’

Much like his colleague Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who was recently removed from a GOP leadership position, Kinzinger is portrayed by the media as being someone who is alone in his beliefs, who is in a “its lonely at the top” position.

A February New York Times article describes him as someone who “now faces the classic challenge for political mavericks aiming to prove their independence.” 

Not only is he seen by other Republicans much like Cheney, as ignoring the direction voters want to take the party in, but soon after his impeachment vote, a cousin put out a very public letter in which she says that Kinzinger had disappointed the family, and that, “You have embarrassed the Kinzinger family name!” The cousin added that she wanted Kinzinger to be “shunned.”

Kinzinger recently formed a Political Action Committee with the goal being to “reformat” the party by emphasizing low taxes, defense, and social conservatism. The one thing not mentioned however, is an America First Agenda.

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Clear Lines Have Been Drawn

Having Paul Ryan speak at any GOP event sends a clear message not just to the party but to voters as well. There is no doubt that Donald Trump is now, and will likely remain, the most influential person in the Republican Party. 

But it becomes more and more clear that there are two distinct wings of the party. One sure way to gauge which one is more popular with voters will be when Donald Trump begins to hold rallies next month.

It will also reveal a lot about where conservative voters’ heads are leading up to 2022. Will they feel the need to chastise Adam Kinzinger and the others who voted to impeach Donald Trump by voting them out of office? 

Back in February, residents of Kinzinger’s district were asked about how they felt about his vote to impeach Trump.

One of those residents, a 63-year old retired mechanical engineer had this to say, “If you want to vote as a Democrat, vote as a Democrat. Otherwise, if you’re a Republican, then support our president. Trump was the first president who represented me. The stuff he did helped me.”

Adam Kinzinger may be “at peace” with his vote. His constituents might not be.

 

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Conservatives Are Lining Up To Primary Anti-Trump Cheney In Wyoming

On Wednesday, House Republicans ousted Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from her position as GOP Conference Chair, and now challengers in Wyoming are lining up to oust her from her Congressional seat altogether.

As many as six people have already announced they will challenge Cheney for her House seat in the 2022 midterms. A defiant Cheney told reporters on Thursday that she “obviously welcomes” anyone who wants to throw their hat in the ring against her. 

“There are millions and millions of Republicans out there who want us to be a party that stands for principles and who are very worried about the direction that the party is going and don’t want the party to be dragged backward by the former president.”

Cheney has been an outspoken critic of former President Donald Trump, and has also spoken out about her concern with the direction of the Republican Party as influenced by Trump.

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Trouble For Cheney Started With Impeachment

Liz Cheney’s troubles began not long after her impeachment vote against Donald Trump. In February, Cheney was censured by the Republican parties of ten Wyoming counties. Some used phrases in their announcements of a censure like “betrayed the trust” of voters, and “devalued the political influence of the state of Wyoming.”

Cheney also survived an attempt in February to remove her from the Conference chair position, with even fellow Republican Matt Gaetz of Florida traveling to Wyoming to encourage voters there to remove her from office. 

Last month at a GOP retreat in Florida, calls for her to be removed from the Conference Chair got louder as Cheney was at odds with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) over the scope of a commission that is investigating the events at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

She also said that anyone who challenged the 2020 election results should be disqualified from being the 2024 GOP nominee – a clear shot at Trump.

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Who Are Cheney’s Challengers?

State Senator, gun rights activist, and Cheyenne-area business owner Anthony Bouchard was the first to announce he intended to challenge Cheney.

Another Wyoming legislator, a conservative radio host whose family owns Casper-area radio stations, State Rep. Chuck Gray has also announced he is running. 

Retired Army Colonel Denton Knapp, who currently lives in California but grew up in Wyoming and plans to move back, has thrown his hat in the ring. He said what prompted him was, “What’s missing right now is trust in our elected officials. Wyomingites expected Cheney to vote a certain way and she didn’t. As a result, she’s going through consequences.”

Also in the running is Marissa Joy Selvig, former mayor of Pavillion, a small town of 200. Selvig said, “I’ve never been a Cheney fan.” She added, “She has been working more for herself and for the Republican Party than she has the citizens of Wyoming. That’s what I see.”

Businessman Darin Smith is the most recent challenger to announce his candidacy. He announced his intention to run last week.

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Could Be An Uphill Battle For Cheney Opponents

Liz Cheney has a formidable track record when it comes to campaigning. She has beaten both Democrat and Republican opponents in the Cowboy state, and enjoys all the benefits of incumbency.

In the first quarter of this year, she raked in $1.5 million, her best fundraising quarter yet. Being the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, she enjoys universal name recognition and family legacy advantages, too.

Prior to being in the House, Cheney ran an ill-fated Senate campaign against then Senator Mike Enzi, but dropped out after only six months. Accusations of being a “carpet-bagger” dogged Cheney and claims that she had not spent much time in Wyoming until moving to affluent Jackson Hole in 2012.

Liz Cheney is free to do what she believes is right, but she might want to get home to see if the people in Wyoming agree with her.

 

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McCarthy’s desperation to be speaker unites an entire coalition against the GOP and its Big Lie

The more things change, the more they stay the same ... and the more they don't.

First off, what’s stayed the same (and there is simply no nice to way to say this): GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is a lying sack of sh*t.

It's an observation McCarthy made necessary Wednesday, when he stood outside the White House following an Oval Office meeting and lied about House Republicans' fervent backing of Donald Trump's Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen.

Asked if he had any qualms about elevating Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York to a leadership post after she spent the last week spewing Trump's election fraud lies, McCarthy told reporters, "I don't think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election. I think that is all over with."

To state the obvious, McCarthy joined 138 members of his caucus in voting to reject certification of the 2020 results. McCarthy also orchestrated the ouster of the only member of the GOP leadership team who has loudly and consistently rejected Trump's lies on the matter, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming. McCarthy has also very publicly enlisted the help of Trump—chief promoter of the baseless fraud lies—in retaking control of the House next year. In essence, McCarthy has now built the foundations of House Republicans' 2022 strategy entirely on Trump's overt lies about "the legitimacy of the presidential election," as he put it.

As Cheney later told NBC News of McCarthy's debased leadership, "I think that he is not leading with principle right now ... and I think that it is sad and I think it’s dangerous.”

The operative word in Cheney's measured response is "dangerous." And when we look back on what is yet another pathetic and frightening episode in the Republican Party's continued detachment from reality, it may actually prove to be more of a turning point than it initially seemed.  

On Thursday, a group of about 150 high-profile disaffected members and former members of the Republican Party announced an alternative movement to help save democracy from the GOP, which they now view as a "material threat to the nation."

"We will not wait forever for the GOP to clean up its act," they wrote in a Washington Post op-ed. "If we cannot save the Republican Party from itself, we will help save America from extremist elements in the Republican Party."

The piece was authored by several people, including former Pennsylvania Congressman Charlie Dent, former George W. Bush secretary of transportation Mary Peters, and former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele.

What exactly they are proposing is admittedly squishy. They are urging likeminded Americans to join their "Call for American Renewal," an alliance that will apparently back politicians from either party in an attempt to defeat extremist Republicans. 

"We will fight for honorable Republicans who stand up for truth and decency, such as Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney, to name a few," they write. "But we will not rely on the old partisan playbook. We intend to work across party lines with other Americans to oppose extremists and defend the republic wherever we can."

But perhaps the most important takeaway from their piece is the fact that they have declared the Republican Party to be an unsalvageable trash heap in its current form—a virtual wasteland of corruption, bereft of principled ideas and leadership.

"Tragically, the Republican Party has lost its way, perverted by fear, lies and self-interest. What’s more, GOP attacks on the integrity of our elections and our institutions pose a continuing and material threat to the nation," they write. 

They are no longer working to save the Republican Party as we know it today, even if they will work to protect certain members of it. They have effectively declared war on the party leadership and its unholy alliance with Trump.

It may seem merely symbolic, but it's important—the more prominent Republicans who are willing to take this step, the better for democracy. It will free up some longtime Republican voters who have been harboring misgivings about the party to either vote Democrat or independent or not at all in the next few election cycles. Any of those options are good ones from the standpoint of trying to save our democracy.

In the meantime, some Republicans working within the party plan to make life as difficult as possible for GOP leaders like McCarthy. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, one of 10 who voted to impeach Trump, tweeted Wednesday that McCarthy "wrongly" assumes GOP members like himself would vote for McCarthy as House speaker if Republicans manage to win the majority next year. It's also true that Kinzinger may not survive to take part in that vote, but a group called the Republican Accountability Project plans to do as much as possible to protect the 10 House Republicans who voted for Trump's impeachment, including both Cheney and Kinzinger.

Another possibility that will make liberals queasy but would also make McCarthy's life hell is the idea of a Cheney run for president in 2024, which she didn’t exactly shoot down in her NBC interview with Savannah Guthrie. Asked about the prospect, Cheney ultimately said she would do “whatever it takes” to keep Trump from occupying the Oval Office ever again.

Sarah Longwell, executive director of the Republican Accountability Project and publisher of The Bulwark, pushed the idea of a Cheney bid for the GOP nomination in a Thursday post, but most certainly as a Republican, not a third-party candidate.

"Of course Cheney should run for president as a Republican," Longwell wrote. "She will almost certainly lose. But there is a long and noble tradition in running for president in order to shape a party, to organize and persuade voters, to lend prominence to an issue."

Cheney running for the GOP nomination would be the worst-possible-case scenario for congressional Republicans who have now bet their entire party on Trump. She would be a loud and constant reminder of the Big Lie they have embraced and the fact that they all sold their souls for political gain.

While no strategy is exactly clear or well-formed at the moment, it does seem like McCarthy's actions have advanced the thinking of some never-Trumpers and unleashed a more difficult political environment for the party overall. Many who had hoped that they could somehow influence the direction of the GOP without having to declare war on it appear to have been disabused of that notion. What happens now remains to be seen, but taking an action that cements an entire coalition against your cause is about the worst of all possible worlds for a supposed political leader. Congrats, McCarthy. 

For Donald Trump, Defeating ‘NeverTrumper’ Liz Cheney Is Top Priority For 2022

Making sure that anti-Trump Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney is defeated in her 2022 midterm primary election is a top goal for Donald Trump, according to a spokesman for the former president.

In an interview published on Saturday, Trump spokesman Jason Miller told the Washington Post that Trump’s political advisers have been calling Wyoming officials to discuss potential primary challengers to Cheney.

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Trump Committed To Seeing Cheney Defeated In 2022

Miller said that for Team Trump, unseating Cheney was “one of the highest priorities as far as primary endorsements go.”

Trump met with advisers in Florida as recently as Monday to begin analyzing 2022 campaign endorsements, according to sources close with the former president.

According to those sources, Trump wants to support a single candidate against Cheney. He does not want to divide the vote, knowing multiple challengers would make it easier for Cheney to retain her seat. 

Cheney is already in hot water back home in Wyoming for her vote to impeach Trump. 

She has already drawn primary challengers and was censured by County Republican parties in Wyoming for her impeachment vote.

This news comes in the wake of it being all but certain that Republicans will vote to remove Cheney from her role as House Republican Conference chairwoman this week.

Trump and other Republican leaders have endorsed Rep. Elise Stefanik to replace Cheney in Republican leadership.

Trump: Cheney Is A ‘Warmongering Fool’

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have signaled that they will support removing Cheney from her post. 

Scalise and McCarthy had previously defended Cheney as she faced attacks for her vote to impeach Trump earlier this year over his alleged role in the attack on the Capitol on January 6. 

Cheney has been a fierce critic of Trump, claiming that the former president’s efforts questioning the results of the 2020 presidential election have been damaging to the Republican Party and the country. 

In response, Trump called Cheney a “warmongering fool” in a statement.

RELATED: Mika Brzezinski Claims Texas GOP Pushing ‘Big Lie’ With Election Law – ‘Could Destabilize This Country’ For Years To Come

Trump also claimed Cheney “has virtually no support left in the Great State of Wyoming” and “continues to unknowingly and foolishly say that there was no Election Fraud in the 2020 Presidential Election when in fact, the evidence, including no Legislative approvals as demanded by the U.S. Constitution, shows the exact opposite.” 

Cheney responded to Trump in an op-ed for the Washington Post on Wednesday, writing “Trump is seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that make democracy work — confidence in the result of elections and the rule of law.”

Cheney encouraged Republicans to avoid Trump’s “cult of personality.”

 

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GOP Divide Shows No Sign Of Letting Up As McCarthy Rips Cheney For Attacking Trump

The divide between the two wings of the Republican Party was as evident as ever at a party policy retreat held in Florida.

As House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy emphasizes the need for the GOP to be united, the division between McCarthy himself and GOP Chair Rep. Liz Cheney will not be an incentive for others with differing visions of the future of the party to come together for 2022.

According to a report from Politico, while former President Trump was not at the policy retreat, his presence was very much felt in the rift between the anti-Trump Cheney and McCarthy’s calls for unity.

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McCarthy’s Frustration Comes Through

In an interview with Politico, McCarthy was asked about bringing the party together while Cheney – the third-ranking Republican in the House – continues to attack an extremely popular Trump.

McCarthy said, “There’s a responsibility, if you’re gonna be in leadership, leaders eat last, and when leaders try to go out, and not work as one team, it creates difficulties.”

In a telling exchange, McCarthy said that he had spoken to Cheney about playing down some of her comments. When he was asked if he thought she had taken the advice is answer was, “You be the judge.”

That wasn’t all. At a later press conference, McCarthy demurred when asked if Cheney was fit to lead the GOP. 

GOP Rift Is Nothing New

The ink on the Articles of Impeachment were barely dry when Liz Cheney began to lay blame for the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol building on Donald Trump.

In a tweet on Jan. 6 following the violence at the Capitol, Cheney said, “There is no question that the President formed the mob, the President incited the mob. He lit the flame.”

Other GOP members of Congress also joined in on pinning the blame on Trump.

Over in the Senate, the same occurred. Those that many Trump supporters view as “RINOs” (Republican in name only) were also quick to blame Trump. Then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) immediately following the violence in Washington D.C. stated that, 

“The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the President and other powerful people. And they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the Federal Government which they did not like. But we pressed on,”

RELATED: Republicans Pressure John Kerry To Resign After NYT Leaked Iran Audio – What We Know So Far

GOP Facing Classic Clash Of Establishment Vs. Young Guns

What is happening within the Republican Party may be nothing more than a simple case of the Establishment Old Guard clashing with relatively younger, more often newly-elected young guns of the party.

These latter are tired of the establishment status quo and are not afraid to take on the Democrats. 

The young guns are equally not afraid to take on members of their own party. On Monday, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said that not inviting Trump to the retreat was “stupid.”

Greene argued, “Remember when Republicans lost the House in 2018 because a bunch of them distanced themselves from President Trump? Not inviting President Trump to the GOP retreat is the same stupid behavior. Funny how they don’t understand a record # of votes and support of any R President.”

Greene is among a handful of Republican lawmakers, including Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who are not afraid to call out the senior members of the GOP.

Based on every known measure, Cheney is in the wrong as it regards Trump’s standing among GOP voters.

A February CNBC poll showed that 74% of Republicans want Donald Trump to stay politically active in some way, and 48% want him to remain the perceived head of the Republican Party. 

The Democrats have problems of their own in managing the AOC wing of their party, but a sizable GOP rift could bring them together quick.

The bottom line for Republicans is that Trump or no Trump, 2022 is fast approaching. 

 

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With a difficult midterm looming, Democrats have a short window to ban gerrymandering

After winning narrow victories to take full control of the federal government in the 2020 elections, Democrats have a fleeting opportunity to pass major legislation, with a window for action that may close in less than two years. Republicans will dominate the upcoming round of congressional redistricting, and the long-running tendency of the president's party to lose seats in midterms is well-known. But congressional Democrats can flip the script by banning partisan gerrymandering—a move that will both make elections fairer and give the party a better chance to prevail in 2022.

Republican victories in key legislative elections last year mean that the GOP is now positioned to draw new maps in states home to 38% to 46% of districts nationwide. Democrats, by contrast, will hold the cartographer’s pen in just 16% to 17% of all districts, giving the GOP an advantage of two or three to one. This disparity, combined with the threat that the increasingly right-wing Supreme Court may exacerbate the GOP's power to gerrymander within the states they control, means that, without further reforms, the congressional landscape is all but certain to remain skewed toward the GOP in 2022, following after two decades in which it already gave Republicans a large advantage.

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The House isn’t the only chamber where the playing field institutionally favors Republicans. The Senate does as well. Thanks to malapportionment and the legacy of a 19th-century GOP effort to carve out new states for partisan gain, Republicans have a major advantage in excess of their popular support. As a result, rural white voters possess disproportionate power at the expense of urban voters of color.

As our recently compiled spreadsheet illustrates, Senate Republicans have not won more votes or represented more Americans than Democrats since the late 1990s. Nevertheless, they’ve run the body just over half the time since, and this pattern of minority rule that existed continually from 2014-2020 may repeat itself next year. With more Americans increasingly voting straight tickets, it’s become almost impossible for Democrats to win the Senate unless the stars align as they did in 2018 and 2020.

The other major challenge Democrats face next year is that the president's party almost always loses a sizable number of seats in Congress in midterm elections, when opposition voters are energized to vote and the president's supporters are usually demobilized.

This dynamic has played out in every midterm since 2006, and the vast majority of them since World War II. The few exceptions include elections such as 2002, when the GOP benefited from George W. Bush’s post-9/11 surge in popularity combined with a pro-Republican shift in redistricting, or 1998, when Bill Clinton's approval rating peaked at over 60% amid the best economic growth cycle in decades and a backlash to the GOP’s impeachment efforts. Joe Biden is unlikely to benefit from such one-off factors, particularly since partisan polarization has only grown stronger in the ensuing years.

However, one mitigating factor for Democrats in 2022 is that, unlike in past midterms such as 2010 or 1994 when Democrats suffered massive downballot losses, Democrats have far fewer seats to protect that are hostile to their party at the presidential level.

In 2010, Democrats were defending 48 House seats that had voted for John McCain in 2008 and another 19 where Barack Obama won by less than his national margin. Democrats that November would go on to lose 50 of these 67 districts. The Senate story is similar: When Republicans flipped the Senate in 2014, Democrats were trying to hold seven seats in states that Obama had lost during his re-election campaign, and the GOP flipped all of them on its way to gaining nine seats that year. 

Following the 2020 elections, however, Democrats hold just seven House districts that voted for Donald Trump and another 15 that Biden won by less than his national margin of 4 points. In the Senate, none of the states that are up in 2022 went for Trump, though four backed Biden by less than his national margin.

While House Democrats are unlikely to suffer a setback anywhere near as monumental as the 63 net seats that they lost in 2010, the post-2020 Democratic majority of just 222 seats out of 435 is also much smaller than the 256 seats the party held going into the 2010 elections. A net loss of only five seats would be enough to flip the House back to Republicans, which is entirely plausible—if not likely—if 2022 proves to be a typical midterm. In the Senate, likewise, Republicans only need to capture a single seat to take back the chamber next year, compared to the six that they needed to flip in 2014.

A booming economy and an end to the pandemic may boost Democrats’ fortunes in 2022 by propping up Biden's approval rating, but the combined threats of GOP gerrymandering, Senate malapportionment, and the typical midterm penalty make Democrats the underdogs next year. Consequently, congressional Democrats must make the most of what limited time they have to pass reforms that are critical for preserving democracy from an increasingly authoritarian Republican Party.

Chief among those reforms is using Congress' constitutional powers to ban congressional gerrymandering by requiring states to adopt independent redistricting commissions and adhere to nonpartisan criteria when drawing new maps in order to promote fairness. House Democrats have passed just such a bill, the "For the People Act"—best known as H.R. 1—which also includes a historic expansion of voting access protections. But enacting it into law will require Democrats to overcome a filibuster, which means getting every Democratic senator on board with changing Senate rules.

Another critical piece of legislation that would reduce the Senate’s pro-Republican bias would be to grant statehood to Washington, D.C., which would end the disenfranchisement of 700,000 American citizens and add a heavily urban and Black state to a body that underrepresents both groups. However, D.C. statehood on its own would only give Democrats two more Senate seats at most and still leave the Senate with a large tilt toward the GOP. To level the playing field further, Democrats should also offer statehood to Puerto Rico, an idea the island voted in favor of in a referendum last year, and consider further ways to expand the chamber.

Most congressional Republicans supported Trump’s attempted coup d’etat following his defeat, underscoring that the party that controls Congress will also hold the fate of free and fair elections in its hands. It’s readily conceivable that a Republican-controlled Congress could simply reject an Electoral College results it doesn’t like in 2024, just as two-thirds of House Republicans voted to do mere hours after Trump incited an insurrectionist mob that stormed the Capitol.

To avoid this future of escalating autocracy, Democrats must pass serious structural reforms to our democracy while they still can. Time is short, and growing shorter.