The reluctance by traditional Republicans to take on Donald Trump was widely seen as a defense mechanism to avoid the real estate developer's wrath in GOP primaries, but establishment Republicans have shown they can triumph over the former president.
"Among the many Republicans who earned President Donald Trump’s ire for their refusal to go along with his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, perhaps none were as high-profile as Vice President Mike Pence, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey," Aaron Blake wrote for The Washington Post. "Ducey on Thursday announced his endorsement of Karrin Taylor Robson over Trump-backed Kari Lake in the GOP gubernatorial primary. (Ducey is term-limited.) And it’s merely the latest high-profile decision among prominent Republicans to endorse against Trump."
Trump endorsed former Sen. David Perdue against Kemp. Kemp won 74% to 22% in a massive landslide.
Trump also unsuccessfully backed Rep. Jody Hice against Secretary of State Ben Raffensperger, who won 52% to 33% in another thumping.
And now things are heating up in Arizona.
"That Ducey would endorse in his home state’s governor’s race isn’t hugely surprising, but he also happens to be the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, which makes his decision to get involved more interesting," Blake reported. "Ducey didn’t endorse in his capacity as RGA chairman, but NBC News reports that Ducey is considering asking RGA donors to fund a political action committee that supports Taylor Robson. NBC’s Allan Smith and Marc Caputo also report that Ducey’s backing could presage a Pence endorsement — a move that would ramp up the showdown between Trump and high-profile, establishment-oriented Republicans who seem intent on turning the page and avoiding extreme Republicans like Lake."
"Lake has regularly polled as the front-runner in the Aug. 2 primary. But former congressman Matt Salmon’s recent decision to drop out of the race and endorse Taylor Robson appears to have worked to Taylor Robson’s benefit. The most recent polls suggest it’s a tight race, and a come-from-behind win by Taylor Robson would be a significant setback for Trump," Blake wrote.