Trump’s great defeat; electoral denial

Former President Donald Trump’s revenge crusade suffered two devastating blows after Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger won their primaries on Tuesday despite the rejection of Trump’s pleas to reverse his election defeat of 2020.

It’s a huge warning sign for how Republican voters view the former president’s crusade to punish those unwilling to overturn the will of voters in 2020.

Voters were also open to welcoming scandal-ridden candidates – depending on the candidate and the scandal.

Here are some takeaways from Tuesday’s primary elections in Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas and Minnesota:


Trump had hoped to make Georgia Governor Brian Kemp an example of the danger of defying him. Instead, Kemp on Tuesday became an example of how Republican incumbents might not have as much to fear from Trump as the former president would like.

Kemp passed former U.S. Senator David Perdue in the Republican primary. The victory came a year and a half after Kemp rejected Trump’s pleas to help nullify the presidential election by declaring Trump the winner in Georgia instead of Joe Biden, who actually won.

Perdue’s campaign focused on Trump’s lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him, but Kemp won by flexing his office’s power. To rally the base, he signed laws allowing most Georgians to carry guns without a license and banning most abortions after a fetal heartbeat was detected. He also announced an investment by Hyundai in a new plant in the state to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles.

Now Kemp will face Democrat Stacey Abrams in a rematch of their 2018 gubernatorial showdown. Unlike Trump in 2020, Perdue accepted defeat on Tuesday night, even appearing to dismiss some supporters who took over a chant suggesting he there had been fraud.

“I’m sorry, but what we’re going to do now is make sure that Stacey Abrams is not governor of this state,” Perdue said.


The Georgia governor’s run wasn’t Trump’s only grudge match that backfired on the former president. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who personally rejected Trump’s call to “find” enough votes to declare him the winner in Georgia, also defeated his main Trump-backed challenger.

Trump recruited U.S. Representative Jody Hice from a safe seat in Congress to face Raffensperger in the Republican primary, but Hice lost. Trump endorsed the main challengers for the insurance commissioner and the attorney general, and they, too, lost.

Clearly, the former president’s 2020 speeches simply didn’t speak to Republican voters in Georgia, the nation’s newest battleground state.

“Georgia highlights one of Trump’s big problems if he runs again,” Brendan Buck, a former spokesman for former House Speaker Paul Ryan, tweeted on Tuesday. “Of course, he won’t be able to let go of the nonsense of 2020, and no one wants to hear his moans about it anymore.”

Trump has won a few primary victories with election deniers – the most significant last week in Pennsylvania, when Republican voters picked his favorite gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, who said he would not have certified the victory of Biden in 2020 on the state.

But several Republicans have made clear they are considering the 2024 presidential candidacies, including Pence and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. And they have moved away from Trump’s election claims in different ways. Elections are usually about the future, and by the time the 2024 GOP primary rolls around, November 2020 will be history.


Trump had some victories on Tuesday. They came with luggage, but that didn’t seem to stop them.

Former football great Herschel Walker, chosen by Trump for the US Senate in Georgia, outplayed his Republican opponents. Party leaders initially turned away from him because of his checkered history.

Walker, in his autobiography, admits to struggling with mental illness. His ex-wife said that during their marriage he held a gun to her head and threatened to kill her. He claimed to have founded a chicken processing business employing hundreds of people, but reported only eight workers when applying for the loan during the coronavirus pandemic. He lied about starting a charity to help veterans get mental health help.

But ultimately, even Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell came to see Walker as the party’s best chance to oust Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock. The bet is that voters won’t care so much about scandals in post-Trump America.

That theory certainly got a boost Tuesday in Texas. Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton was indicted in 2015 for securities fraud and is still awaiting trial. He is under investigation for corruption by the FBI and by the Texas State Bar for his role in the attempt to annul the 2020 presidential election. Yet he easily won his primary against Lands Commissioner George P. Bush, thanks to his ability to use his office to respond to conservative causes, such as investigating parents of transgender children.

Back in Georgia, incendiary Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene won her Republican primary, brushing aside challengers who complained that Greene was giving the party a bad name by engaging in Holocaust denial and other explosive behavior that made headlines.

Trump set the pattern in 2016, and his supporters are perfecting it — never let a scandal stop you from winning an election.



The marquee Democratic game of the night — in Texas’ 28th congressional district, between progressive Jessica Cisneros and centrist Rep. Henry Cuellar, one of the last abortion-rights opponents in the Democratic caucus — was too soon to call Wednesday.

The two candidates were separated by the slimmest margin of votes in a rematch two months after being forced into a second round. It made two realities clear: Elections are a game of thumbs, and even a victory won’t resolve the great divide between left and center within the Democratic Party.

After much of Biden’s congressional agenda collapsed, progressives received a boost in recent primaries. Their candidate, Summer Lee, narrowly won the primary in Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district last week. In Oregon’s 5th congressional district, centrist Rep. Kurt Schrader trailed a progressive challenger after their primary last week; results were delayed by counting issues.

Also on Tuesday, Rep. Lucy McBath easily beat Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in the Democratic primary for Georgia’s 7th congressional district in suburban Atlanta. Although neither embraced the left wing of the party, Bourdeaux was better known as a moderate than McBath.

Yet the left lost a key congressional primary in the Cleveland area just weeks ago. They had an abysmal record in 2020. And some Democrats fear — and Republicans hope — that left-wing wins in places like Oregon’s 5th or Texas’ 28th will make it harder for the party to hold on. these relatively moderate districts, especially in what looks like a dismal downfall for Democrats.

Sometimes, however, the races are so close that there is ultimately a winner but no resolution to the political debate they embody. Progressives may note that Cisneros improved his margin after losing to Cuellar in 2020. Centrists may point out how the incumbent has kept him close even amid party fury over a possible end to the right to abortion.

After Texas, the struggle between the left and center wings of the Democrats looks set to continue.


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