While Joe Biden and fellow Democrats are getting things done, the GOP is increasingly in disarray as it embraces the MAGAverse and the cult of Trump. In fact, so much is going on that it might be time for periodic roundups of the internal fissures within the GOP.
Democrats still face an uphill battle in the November midterms, but the tide is turning in our favor. So let’s start with the dust-up between Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Last week, McConnell conceded that the House has a better chance of flipping than the Senate. During a stop in Kentucky, McConnell told reporters:
“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate,” McConnell said. “Senate races are just different — they’re statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome,” he added, without mentioning any names.
But it was clear that he was referring to Trump-backed candidates in key swing states who are all trailing their Democratic opponents in recent polls—Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, J.D. Vance in Ohio, Herschel Walker in Georgia, and Blake Masters in Arizona. McConnell is backing pro-impeachment incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski, while Trump is supporting her 2020 election denier rival, Kelly Tshibaka, in Alaska’s Senate race.
That didn’t sit well with the master of the MAGAverse. Over the weekend, Trump posted this on his Truth Social platform:
Why do Republican Senators allow a broken down hack politician, Mitch McConnell, to openly disparage hard working Republican candidates for the United States Senate. This is such an affront to honor and to leadership. He should spend more time (and money!) helping them get elected, and less time helping his crazy wife and family get rich on China!
Elaine Chao, McConnell’s wife, served as secretary of Transportation during Trump’s four-year term, but resigned shortly after the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol.
Immediately after the insurrection, McConnell took to the Senate floor to say that Tump is “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events” of Jan. 6. However, he spinelessly voted to acquit Trump at his second impeachment trial a few weeks later.
As for Chao, whose family emigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan when she was a child, there have been questions raised as to whether she aided her father’s shipping company through her government positions. The U.S. Transportation Department's Inspector General's office investigated Chao for potential violations of ethics rules and misuse of her position, and published its findings in March. Chao's father, James S.C. Chao, founded a shipping company, now called the Foremost Group, which her sister Angela now heads. The firm does significant business in China.
McConnell’s criticism of Trump was relatively mild compared with what Arizona’s ousted House Speaker Rusty Bowers had to say about Trump and his party in an extraordinary interview with The Guardian. Bowers, a staunch conservative, testified in a public hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection about the pressure he faced to overturn Arizona’s presidential election result that gave Joe Biden a narrow win.
Earlier this month, Trump got his revenge when Bowers lost a Republican primary race to challenger David Farnsworth, who claimed that the 2020 election had been satanically snatched from Trump by the “devil himself.”
Bowers detailed to The Guardian how Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and John Eastman pressured him to have the state legislature use an arcane Arizona law to switch the election outcome to Trump. He resisted the bullying. ”The thought that if you don’t do what we like, then we will just get rid of you and march on and do it ourselves—that to me is fascism,” Bowers said.
With the primary loss behind him, Bowers, who is a Mormon, felt unhindered in letting loose on Trump and the GOP. “The constitution is hanging by a thread,” he told The Guardian. “The funny thing is, I always thought it would be the other guys. And it’s my side. That just rips at my heart: that we would be the people who would surrender the constitution in order to win an election. That just blows my mind.”
Bowers said he remains optimistic that the GOP will one day find its way back on to the rails, but said that things are likely to get much worse before they get better. He said the Arizona GOP seems to be lost at the moment. “They’ve invented a new way. It’s a party that doesn’t have any thought. It’s all emotional, it’s all revenge. It’s all anger. That’s all it is,” Bowers said.
And in Colorado, one GOP state senator went even further when he announced Monday that he couldn’t remain a Republican any longer and was defecting to the Democrats. State Sen. Kevin Priola wrote in a two-page letter that there is “too much at stake right now for Republicans to be in charge.” He added: “Simply put, we need Democrats in charge.”
Priola cited two main reasons for switching parties: Many Republicans peddling false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, and the party’s efforts to block legislation that would fight climate change even as Coloradans endure worsening wildfires and drought.
Priola has served in the Colorado legislature as a Republican since 2009, first as a representative and then, starting in 2017, as a senator. Term limits bar him from seeking reelection in 2024. His defection increases the Democratic state Senate majority ahead of the November elections.
“I haven’t changed much in 30 years; but my party has,” Priola wrote. “Coloradans cannot afford for their leaders to give credence to election conspiracies and climate denialism,” he wrote, adding: “Our planet and our democracy depend on it.”