Author and reporter Bill Powell penned a column for Newsweek that warned Republicans might not measure the drapes for the majority just yet.
For the past year, Republicans have assumed that they were going to take over the House and possibly the U.S. Senate at the 2022 midterms. Their reasoning is strong. After a troubled census count, Republicans used power in the state legislatures to draw congressional maps so that they could ensure Democratic members would lose.
According to Powell, however, going full MAGA may not work out the way the GOP thinks.
In the Michigan 22nd Congressional District, Rep. Lana Theis has been in office since 2018, but she's about to face a MAGA challenger. She didn't vote for the infrastructure bill nor did she support the impeachment of former President Donald Trump. But that hasn't stopped Trump-endorsed candidate and mortgage broker Mike Detmer from running. At a time when Republicans should be running the table, Detmer stands to force Theis into a fight for who can out-Trump the other.
"Theis, Detmer's opponent, served on a committee that looked into, and ultimately dismissed, allegations of voter fraud in Michigan's presidential election last year," Powell explained.
"Now, some state GOP officials worry, Trump's intervention in the race will force Theis to spend more resources to fend off the primary challenge and put a relatively safe seat in jeopardy," he continued.
Then there are the 13 Republicans who supported President Joe Biden's infrastructure package. Trump has vowed to kick them out of Congress too. Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) told Axios that felt like he was in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation.
"You vote one way, maybe it hurts in the primary," Bacon said. "You vote the other way ... in my district, it'd hurt me in the general." He said he felt "pressure" from Republican colleagues to vote against the bill, even if his district wanted the bill. He voted his constituents, but that has launched Trump into an effort to find someone to run against him.
The Arizona gubernatorial race is another example, where Trump is supporting the only candidate who proclaims he won the state. The leaders of the party appear to want former Rep. Matt Salmon, who narrowly lost the election the last time he ran. But where stands his fidelity to Trump?
Powell noted that the 2020 election is another point of concern for Republicans. The overwhelming majority of voters want to move on and address the issues facing the country. The vocal far-right wing of Trump supporters, however, are demanding it be relitigated.
"Interviews with GOP politicians, staffers, consultants and operatives indicate many are worried that this obsession with the 2020 results, combined with Trump's brash style and desire to seek political vengeance against those whom he believes wronged him, could upset what polling otherwise indicates should be a historic victory for the GOP in the midterms and a good shot at retaking the White House two years later," wrote Powell.
Voters want to know what officials are going to do for them, but Trump seems intent on running to see what the country can do for him. Can the presidency stop all investigations and lawsuits against him? Could being elected mean he could use the media to magnify his 2020 election conspiracies even further? Is it possible for him to use the power of the federal government to wage a war against his foes from the Democratic Party to reporters on down?
"If he wants to keep the focus on 2020, they are more than happy to oblige," Powell wrote. "Congressional Democrats are leading the hearings into the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, and hope to demonstrate that Trump's post-election rhetoric helped spur the so-called 'insurrection.' They also love the fact that he is stirring up trouble for many establishment Republican candidates, by endorsing rivals who are more 'MAGA-friendly.'"
There are more examples and Powell uses the Virginia race as a clear indication that the way to win an election for the GOP is to accept the endorsement and then run as far away from Donald Trump as possible.
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