By Thomas Gallagher
The votes of ten Republican Congressmen and seven Senators to convict Donald Trump is the modern equivalent of the firing on Fort Sumter that set off the Civil War.
The gauntlet flung down by these seventeen Republicans, who happily rode Donald Trump’s coattails to election or re-election will be picked up by patriotic and loyal conservatives who will challenge –and probably defeat — each of them in Republican primaries.
This bitter and deep division is not caused so much by animosity among the party’s leaders as by the long simmering alienation of the Party’s rank and file from the leadership.
There is a vast difference of opinion between McConnell and the grassroots about tactics and strategy.
McConnell believes that the most important asset in a Senate race is money and is in perpetual search for well-funded candidates who can overwhelm their opponents with their funding. In his desire for rich candidates, McConnell is prone to overlook the candidate qualities of leadership, credentials, and charisma. A checkbook is all that matters.
But McConnell’s view is antiquated. The 2020 election shows that viability is based on the ability to attract voters to the polls. Turnout is everything.
To get a good voter turnout money is helpful but far from decisive. More important is support at the grassroots level and enthusiasm among the base.
The Georgia Senate race of 2020 is a case in point. Before Kelly Loeffler lost in the general election, she defeated former congressman Doug Collins in a fierce primary contest. Collins, an articulate conservative, with strong support in the grassroots would have made a fine candidate. Instead McConnell sided with Loeffler who’s only qualification was her husband’s wealth. (She married the boss) The lack of grass roots enthusiasm played a large role in her defeat.
In 2022, we will return to Georgia Senate when Republicans pick a candidate to oppose Rafael Warnock the radical Democratic senator. The McConnell wing will likely support David Purdue who lost the Senate race last month while movement Republicans probably — backed by Trump — will likely support Collins.
Further, both parties are so mobilized now that any candidate in so important a race will attract enough money to run. The days when a rich candidate can overwhelm everyone else are rapidly fading.
Mitch McConnell personifies Voltaire’s description of the Bourbon kings of France “they learn nothing and forget nothing.”
The primaries of ’22 will be particularly hot in the Senate. Beyond the Georgia seat, expect strong primary battles in the four states with open seats: Alabama, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and North Carolina. In each state, look for a Trump-endorsed MAGA candidate to oppose an entry from the establishment.
Also, in some states, Republicans who have been less than reliable in their backing of Trump may also face primaries. Senator John Thune (R-SD) the GOP whip may face such opposition in ’22.
And then there are Senate seats now held by Democrats where Republican challengers might be viable. In addition to Warnock, Arizona’s Senator Mike Kelly might be in danger.
Of course, the prime targets among Republicans will be the ten traitors who voted to convict Trump:
* Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.)
* Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.)
* Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.)
* Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio)
* Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.)
* Rep. John Katko (N.Y.)
* Pre. Peter Meijer (Mich.)
* Rep. Dan Newhouse (Wash.)
* Rep. Fred Upton (Mich.)
* Rep. David Valadao (Calif.)
Remember their names and, when their challengers emerge, open your checkbooks!
The conventional wisdom is that a split in the GOP will empower Democrats. But if the primaries lead to a crescendo of enthusiasm for the eventual Republican nominee, they could propel GOP victories.