Sunday, December 5

State Republicans Avoid Legislators Who Criticize Trump And His Big Lie | Republicans

Across the United States, Republican state party officials are taking unprecedented steps to discourage or even purge critics of Donald Trump and promote potential allies of the former president.

These efforts are the latest sign of Trump’s absolute dominance over areas of the Republican Party that are generally neutral and reflect his intense popularity with a broad portion of the Republican base, despite his four years of scandal in power and his loss to Joe. Biden in 2020.

Traditionally, state Republican parties have struggled to avoid favoritism in primaries and intra-party battles. The mission of those groups and their members is, in general, to help Republicans get elected, regardless of which sect of the party they align with.

In Oklahoma, the chairman of the state Republican party backed a challenger to Senator James Lankford, a sitting Republican, for Lankford’s last-minute decision not to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election on Jan.6.

In Wyoming, a Republican party official called on members of Congress to vet the primary rivals of Congresswoman Liz Cheney, one of Trump’s favorite obsessions since leaving office.

In Alaska, the state Republican party is backing former administration commissioner Kelly Tshibaka to take the Senate seat from Lisa Murkowski about a month after Trump himself endorsed Tshibaka. Some of Tshibaka’s consultants are high-ranking veterans of Trump’s failed 2020 presidential campaign.

These latest moves are a continuation of a trend of activism among Republican state officials to side with Trump and disdain the elected officials and prominent Republicans, some of whom are popular, who have stood up to Trump. Republican parties in Arizona, Illinois, Maine and Ohio have also censored party members who parted ways with Trump in certifying election results.

But grassroots Republican officials actively working to tip the scales and placate the whims of a single-term president are breaking new ground.

“We are in a period now with a former president who has complaints from his own party and is using his influence, his megaphone and his power to try to get revenge on these individuals. And in certain states where Trump is popular or where a sitting political figure has taken a deeply unpopular political position, you see some internal opposition, “said Matt Mackowiak, chairman of the Republican Party of Travis County, Texas.

He added: “I think we are living in an age where party officials do not feel compelled to support all party members, especially if they have taken a different direction on a fairly important issue.”

Suspicions of candidate loyalty within the party infrastructure are not unknown or exclusive to the Republican Party. During the last open race for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee in 2017, Democratic activists sometimes theorized that Barack Obama or other establishment state party chairs were subtly trying to support certain candidates and discourage others. But those suspicions only spread until now.

“There is little historical precedent for party chairmen to intervene in primaries,” said Matt Moore, former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party. “Generally, great deference is given not only to elected officials, but also to state committees that elect presidents.”

Kelly Tshibaka has been endorsed by the Alaska Republican Party in its main challenge to Acting Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
Kelly Tshibaka has been endorsed by the Alaska Republican Party in its main challenge to Acting Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Photograph: Mark Thiessen / AP

The impact of the help provided by these members of the state Republican Party is unclear.

Alaska Senator Murkowski, for example, has survived serious challenges from conservatives in the past and this financial quarter outperformed Tshibaka, a sign that the Trump-backed primary challenger’s chances of winning are not assured. In Wyoming, Cheney faces a handful of rivals who could split the anti-Cheney vote.

Moore argued that the involvement of officials in Trump’s efforts to undermine his opponents could actually undermine states parties.

“I would say that it actually weakens the party in the long run. It reduces the credibility of presidents, especially when they endorse wacky candidates against serious US senators, “said Moore. “The great success of the party in the last decade is the improvement of the infrastructure, so when the US senators in office do not play with the party, it reduces the quality of the infrastructure, such as field programs, data, etc. . “

Even more unusual, these internal GOP conflicts have little to do with a wide range of political disagreements, but often concern whether a candidate supported Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent.

“What happened is historically strange,” Moore said. “We have seen senators over the years attacked by party presidents or the party in general, but never by a vote. It’s very strange.”

It is now clear that incumbent Republicans who have stood up to Trump have done so at their own risk. In Georgia, for example, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the state’s top election official and a Republican, faces a challenge in Congressman Jody Hice’s primary after refusing to help Trump undermine the 2020 election results.

Across the country, Republicans realize that their biggest electoral dangers do not necessarily come from a strong Democratic opponent, but from his standing with Trump, even though he is out of office.

“Here’s a 100% purity test,” said Wyoming State Representative Landon Brown.

The Wyoming state party has passed statutes that prohibit the state party from giving money to a legislator unless that legislator votes according to the Wyoming Republican party platform 80% of the time, Brown said. The Wyoming party gives legislators scorecards and informs them if they are failing. Brown summed up the party’s ideology: “If you are not aligned with Trump, you are not a Republican.”

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