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Victory or Poisoned Chalice?
Republican primary voters have a choice in 2024. Will they choose wisely?
Republican Daniel Cameron lost to incumbent Governor Andy Beshear in Kentucky last night by about 5 points.
Kentucky is a state Joe Biden lost by 26 points in 2020.
And while Beshear’s campaign avoided Joe Biden like the plague, Cameron’s campaign was built almost entirely on the platform, “Trump endorsed me!”
As it turned out, the “Trump endorsed me!” platform was a loser.
The Republicans who weren’t endorsed by Donald Trump and rejected Trump’s “Stolen Election” narrative easily won Kentucky’s other statewide races.
It’s almost as if there’s a lesson to be learned here. Unfortunately, the people most in need of that lesson are as dense as mercury, so I’ll boil it down to five words:
Donald Trump is electoral poison.
That’s it. That’s the lesson.
This is why every Democrat running in Virginia’s legislative elections spent oodles on campaign ads smearing their Republican opponents as MAGA extremists. If you haven’t seen the election results from Virginia, the strategy worked.
Democrats figured out years ago that Trump is electoral poison, which is why 2018 was a bloodbath for Republicans, 2020 flipped the White House and Senate, and the anticipated Red Wave of 2022 was reduced to a red dribble of drool.
Tying Donald Trump like a millstone around the necks of Republican candidates is the most successful campaign strategy the Democrats have had in a generation, totally eclipsing “Hope & Change” and “Yes We Can.”
Democrats were delighted when Donald Trump announced his third run for president. If he had retired from public life to spend more time with his classified documents, Democrats would have been screwed in 2024 because voters would have been able to focus their attention on the failures of the decrepit old sad sack, Joe Biden.
This is why I’m convinced that even if Trump didn’t run again, the Democrats still would have indicted him. What better way to ensure Republicans still have Trump tied around their necks than to indict him four times over during an election season?
As National Review columnist Dan McLaughlin said in September 2022:
Remind yourself every day:
Any day spent talking about Donald Trump is a day Republicans are losing.
Any day spent talking about Joe Biden is a day Democrats are losing.
Trump is a poisoned chalice that brings electoral defeat to all who drink from it.
“But, but, but … THE POLLS!”
Yes, let’s talk about those polls.
Emerson, a polling outfit Team Trump loves to cite, had Daniel Cameron ahead of Andy Beshear 49% to 48% just last week.
Donald Trump was super excited about the Emerson poll. He took to Truth Social to boast about the power of his endorsement:
Wow, Daniel Cameron of Kentucky has made a huge surge, now that they see my strong Endorsement, and the fact that he’s not really “a McConnell guy.” They only try to label him that because he comes from the Great State of Kentucky. Anyway, Go Daniel, great future for you and your State – You will bring it to new levels of success, and I will help you!
How are the Trump fans excusing Cameron’s loss? Well, certainly not by suggesting that Donald Trump is poison. No, they’re calling Cameron a “McConnell protégé,” and claiming that’s the reason he lost. It certainly isn’t because of Trump’s “strong Endorsement,” no sir. That has nothing to do with it. It also had nothing to do with Cameron staying radio silent about McConnell while flogging the hell out of Trump’s “strong Endorsement” in campaign ads. Nope. Nothing to do with it.
Unsurprisingly, the Trump fans are also suggesting that the reason Cameron lost when the other statewide Republicans won isn’t because Cameron clung to Trump like a limpet while the other Republicans distanced themselves from the guy. Nope. It must be election fraud because voters would never vote for the other Republicans and not Cameron, right?
If you think I’m kidding, just read the replies to this dippy post on X from that conspiracy blog, The Gateway Pundit.
When you’re an election fraud hammer, every Trump-endorsed loss is a nail.
Most voters, the ones who don’t travel the country attending one Trump rally after another, dislike Donald Trump. Many of them, including people who often vote Republican, despise him as deeply and passionately as Trump fans love him. So when a candidate decides to run on a platform built entirely on “Trump endorsed me!” that candidate will lose, even in solidly red states like Kentucky and Georgia.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of losing.
We’re not just losing in solidly blue districts and states. Trump is losing us elections in districts and states that were solidly red.
We have a choice in 2024: Keep drinking from the poisoned chalice or start winning elections.
As long as Trump is a millstone around our necks, we will continue to rack up losses.
Joe Biden is the weakest incumbent president since Jimmy Carter, and if Donald Trump and his baggage weren’t sucking all the oxygen out of the room, Biden would share Carter’s fate and lose in a landslide. The Republicans would expand their majority in the House and flip the Senate, and we might also regain some of the state legislatures and governor’s mansions that we lost since Trump came on the scene.
But none of that will happen if Republican primary voters don’t put down the poisoned chalice and choose wisely.
The purgative for this poisoned chalice is available in the GOP primaries.
First off, don’t nominate Trump-endorsed candidates for the Senate or House. Use the primary process to winnow the field to Republicans who didn’t drink from the poisoned chalice.
In the presidential primary, every Republican candidate with no chance of winning the nomination must drop out so primary voters can coalesce behind someone who is not Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, the congressional Republicans running for reelection need to grow a spine and stop sucking up Trump out of the misguided belief that aligning with him will help them win. If 2018, 2020, 2022, and yesterday are any indication, that is not the case.
Sure, Trump will whine, hurl childish insults, and issue impotent threats. It’s what he does.
But victory is all that matters.
I’m entirely indifferent to Trump’s fragile pride, not to mention the sputtering indignation of his super fans.
None of that matters. Only victory matters.
Unless Republican voters want to spend the next generation relegated to the back bench while Democrats run roughshod over the country, we need to stop bellying up to the bar for another swig from the poisoned chalice.
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