As the Washington Post’s Annie Linsky reports, Republican primary elections in several key states yesterday reveal the extent of ex-President Donald Trump’s enduring grip on the Republican Party in 2022. And for Republicans who claim the party is ready to move on from the 2020 elections and chart a future course without Trump, yesterday was an ominous reminder that they’re not actually in charge:
Rep. Tom Rice, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump last year, lost, while Rep. Nancy Mace, who drew Trump’s ire after voting to certify Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory, won her primary against a Trump-backed challenger.
Trump-endorsed candidate Russell Fry defeated Rice, according the Associated Press. Rice doubled down on his impeachment vote and sparred with Trump, calling him “a would-be tyrant” in a recent interview with The Post. Mace, who survived her challenge, attempted to heal the rift with Trump…
Rep. Nancy Mace’s attempt to reconcile with Trump after denouncing him in the wake of the January 6th insurrection wasn’t enough to win Trump’s endorsement, but it certainly reduced the intensity of opposition to Mace compared to the outspoken anti-Trumper Rep. Tom Rice who voted for Trump’s impeachment. The Republican base’s continuing personal loyalty to Trump has made it impossible for Republican candidates running in primaries to put daylight between themselves and the former President–as we’ve seen here in Colorado, where any comment about politics beyond the four corners of our state has to be extracted from leading Republican candidates like a tooth.
And to our west in the state of Nevada, Republicans have nominated a leading 2020 election conspiracy theorist to run for Secretary of State, another huge win for Trump but ominous for everybody who cares about small-d democracy:
Jim Marchant, who has made false claims the 2020 election was stolen and alleged without evidence Trump won Nevada, was projected to triumph in the GOP primary. Marchant, a former state assemblyman, was part of the alternate slate of electors the Nevada GOP offered in a bid to overturn the 2020 election. He’ll face Democrat Cisco Aguilar, an attorney and founder of a sports technology company, in November. Whoever wins the job will supervise election procedures in Nevada.
Jim Marchant along with several Republican Secretary of State candidates running in key states like Mark Finchem in Arizona and Tina Peters in Colorado are running entirely on an appeal to the majority of Republican voters who believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. Marchant’s big win last night is a boost for Peters in her race against underfunded former Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson. At the same time, Anderson has been forced to softpedal her opposition to election conspiracy theories and even subsidize them by suggesting that “more can be done” to improve “election integrity.” As a result Anderson has failed to thrive as an alternative to Peters, who has owned the race by every metric.
Trump’s “revenge tour” to punish Republicans who deserted him in 2020 (and January of 2021) has not been completely successful, for example in Georgia where two of Trump’s biggest targets held off his onslaught. But in Colorado’s Secretary of State primary, which is our state’s principal battlefield in this larger struggle for the Republican Party’s identity, the nationally-known pro-Trump “martyr”` has all the momentum.
Good luck to Peters in being able to attract a large number of unaffiliated voters, if she wins the primary, in the general election.
I hope you’re right, C.H.B. And I hope not-crazy Republicans and “U”s who lean right are filling Anderson’s campaign coffers to give her a louder voice before Primary Day. I think Griswold can beat either of them in November, but it would be nice not to have a dangerous nut still in that race.
^^^ That ^^^