• Mon. Dec 26th, 2022

The president’s last-gasp efforts to overturn the election are reshaping the party.

Dec 8, 2020

The result is that many of the partys field officers in the states are preparing to dig in to ensure that Trump and his style of politics remains the partys guiding light. That is putting them at cross-purposes with more traditionalist Republicans, such as Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who are positioning themselves as alternatives to Trump.
Trump has suggested that he will run again, but many Republicans arent convinced. Saul Anuzis, a former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, said, I suspect well see 15 people running for president again next time around.
The signs already point to a protracted intraparty war. In Arizona, where Trump was the first GOP nominee to lose since 1996, Daniel Barker, a former Arizona Court of Appeals judge who started a PAC of Republicans supporting Biden, said there clearly is a major problem in the Republican Party, even with Trumps loss.
If people for the next two or three years view Trump as having 60 or 70 million votes, its going to be hard to say no to him, Barker said, fearful that Trump or Trumpian candidates will maintain a hold on the party. In response, members of Barkers group are weighing whether to begin recruiting Republican-minded independents to run in Arizona if Trump-orientedcandidates clog the Republican Party field.
Stan Barnes, a former ArIzona state lawmaker and longtime Republican consultant, predicted the name-calling between Republicans is a fever that will come and go. Still, he said, its acute.
After Wards back and forth with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey last week, Barnes said, You just dont often get the leader of the party willing to say out loud, Hey, governor, shut the hell up, and then the governor responds in kind.
He called it a special occurrence Ive never seen before.
And it isnt just in Arizona. Fearful of alienating Trumps base in Georgia, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) over the weekend declined to answer multiple questions during a debate with the Rev. Raphael Warnock, her Democratic opponent, about whether it was wrong for Trump to attack Kemp the governor who appointed her to her seat in 2019.
In New Hampshire, a small group of Republicans are openly discussing impeachment of Gov. Chris Sununu, a popular Republican who just won reelection in a landslide. The crime washis imposition of a coronavirus-related mask order, though the state party chair, Stephen Stepanek, defended the governor.
And in Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker who is highly popular in his state has been hammering the president for his “wildly inappropriate” challenge of the election, while the GOP chair, Jim Lyons, advances the Trump movement in his heavily Democratic state.
Rob Gray, a veteran Republican strategist who advised Baker and three former Massachusetts governors Mitt Romney, Paul Cellucci and Bill Weld said the relationship between Hogan and Lyons isnt caustic, but uncomfortable.
I would say the Trump element of the party here is a faction, Gray said. The push and pull on the party are Trump supporters versus [more moderate] Weld Republicans and practical institutionalist members of the Republican state committee.
In red swaths of the country, that push and pull is heavily lopsided in Trumps favor and for good reason. Despite Trumps loss last month, the GOPs success in congressional and legislative races across the country was widely viewed as a testament to Trumps appeal to voters previous Republicans have been unable to turn out something state party chairs will be loath to let go.
Jeff Kaufmann, chair of the Iowa Republican Party, had planned to retire after the election, but said he intends to stay on in part because he sees the party expanding with a coalition that will depend on maintaining an element of our party that is populist, that is blue-collar. And thats something that Trump gave to us.
Kaufmann, a former Iowa state lawmaker who has been the state party chairman since 2014, said that as the party chair, we have to ensure that Donald Trumps attitude toward establishment-era politics is maintained, describing part of that appeal as giving the middle finger to the establishment.
The Mitt Romney-lites of the world, the Ben Sasse-lites of the world, theyre hanging on, theyre waiting, and theyre going to appear again, and theyre going to be well-funded, Kaufmann said. Whether it be 2024 or 2028, one way or another, were going to all have that come to Jesus moment when we decide who do we want as our candidate again, and God help us if its a Mitt Romney-type again.
Publicly, the national party is taking all comers for 2024. Last week, Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee, invited about a dozen potential 2024 presidential candidates to the RNCs meeting in Amelia Island, Fla., in what was widely viewed as a show of neutrality ahead of the next nominating process. Even if the party isnt neutral, the rise of outside fundraising in recent years has diminished the significance of party organizations. And Trumps romp through the 2016 primary field demonstrated the ability of a candidate to overcome the GOPs existing infrastructure in the states.
One of the best-kept secrets in politics today is that the party structure is not as relevant as it used to be, because each candidate is a free agent, said Pat McCrory, the former Republican governor of North Carolina. After the candidates are selected is when [the party] becomes more important to help get a ground game going.