Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Neither a King Nor a Kingmaker

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.) 
“The so-called MAGA movement is a bottom-up movement, not one to be dictated from the top down.”-Republican consultant Ken Spain.
"Long known for being dialed into his voters, Mr. Trump increasingly appears to be chasing his supporters as much as marshaling them."- Maggie Haberman and Michael C. Bender
Last night's primaries in several states took place and, with the notable exception of now lame duck Congressman Madison Cawthorn's, none were more closely watched than in Pennsylvania. The Keystone state was looked at as another referendum on Trump's status as a kingmaker, which is ridiculous enough and should've been put to rest after the 2018 Alabama Senate race where Trump's endorsees, Luther Strange and Roy Moore, both lost. And it surely should've been put to rest after the two Georgia Senate races in 2021 that saw incumbents and Trump's picks David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler lose their seats to Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock respectively. Throw in the inability of Susan Wright (not the convicted murderer) to hold onto her late husband's seat out of Texas-6 when she lost to Jake Ellzey and you begin to see a pattern emerge.
     And that pattern is that Trump's picks who were cynically chosen for endorsement either out of petty spite and revenge or if he feels that they can help him steal the election in 2024 actually have a worse track record than that of the late Paul the Octopus. And, obviously, primary wins are rarely bellwethers of actual elections. Look at Christine O'Donnell, who won Delaware's GOP senate primary with a mere 30,000 votes in 2010 only to get crushed by Chris Coons by 17 points in the general election.
     But anyone who's been honestly covering politics as long as I have could've, and had, predicted that last night's results would be a grab bag to all but the most casual observer, immediately casting doubt on the MSM's aggravating doom-mongering about "a GOP landslide" this November.
     It's true that some of Trump's picks did win last night. Doug Mastriano, the nation's most beloved skin-headed Nazi, easily won his gubernatorial primary. But Trump didn't help his campaign one bit and didn't endorse Mastriano until last week when it looked increasingly undeniable that he would win his primary race for Governor. In other words, Trump stuck his pudgy finger in his maw and held it up against the wind. Essentially, Trump was like that kid who ran next to Hank Aaron down the third base line after he hit #715. But Mastriano is going to have a tough row to hoe against AG Josh Shapiro.
     As of this writing, the outcome of the PA GOP senate primary is neck and neck between Dr. Oz, who got Trump's nod, and hedge fund manager David McCormick. Until last night, the polls had all three candidates, including ultra MAGAt Kathy Barnette, practically neck and neck. So Oz could yet lose his race.
     Janice McGeachin, Idaho's Lt. Governor and arguably the scariest woman since the Wicked Witch of the West, lost her primary bid for Governor by running against her own boss, Brad Little. And, even though Georgia didn't have its own gubernatorial primary last night, the aforementioned David Perdue, another Trump pick, has about as much chance of beating Gov. Brian Kemp as Button Gwinnet.
We're Not Gonna Take It
Again, Mastriano would've won without Trump's opportunistic last minute endorsement just as Hank Aaron would've hit #715 without his jogging partner. Trump will  no doubt crow that his hollow 11th hour endorsement made all the difference. But the fact is, Mastriano based his entire campaign on 2020 election lies. What makes him even scarier is that, if God forbids he prevails over Shapiro, as Governor he would have the latitude to name his own Secretary of State with Senate approval in Harrisburg.
   And, again, aside from petty axe-grinding, this is Trump's rationale for many of the 150 endorsements he's made in the election cycle- To install puppets who will help him steal the 2024 election. Trump, don't forget, still hasn't recovered from losing the states he "won" in 2016 and, along with Georgia, the one festering in his craw the most is the president's home state of Pennsylvania, the nation's fifth most populous state with nearly 13,000,000 and its then-20 electoral votes (As a result of the 2020 census, it'll lose one in the 2024 election).
    This is why we should pay at least as much attention to the down-ballot races such as Secretary of State and election board commissioners as we are gubernatorial and Senate races. Mark Finchem, the former Arizona representative and aspiring Trump meat puppet, is running for Katie Hobbs' seat as Secretary of State. Anyone who knows anything about Finchem knows that he's shithouse-rat-on-fire every bit as much as election-denier Doug Mastriano.
     But if last night's primary results showed us anything, it's that MAGA voters, while they may need to wear football helmets 16 hours a day, are going to vote their conscience and for the candidates they want, which, to play Devil's Advocate for a moment, is exactly the way it should be. And let's not forget Georgia. Brad Raffensberger, who's no prize himself, is being challenged by outgoing Rep. Jody Hice, another election denier.
     A person with a missing eye and a full cataract in the other can see Trump's trying to lay the groundwork to steal the 2024 election because even that stable genius possesses enough animal cunning to know he'll never win an election unless he steals it.
     But even MAGA voters have cunning and, while it may undercut the MAGA agenda, they'll vote for whom they'll see fit come this year and 2024 regardless of what Trump wants. And, like Democratic and Independent voters, MAGA voters think parochially, since, as Tip O'Neil once famously said, "all politics is local."
     Trump is trying to engineer his own steal in 2024 on a national level and sometimes, the voters don't bother reading the memos and constant fundraising emails from Mar a Lago. MAGA voters, for all their lunacy and general lack of intellect, are still going to vote with their hearts and minds and will boo Trump and his candidates (As was Oz at one recent PA rally and Trump last January when he told the attendees to get vaccinated and boosted). To put it simply, Trump's Dr. Frankenstein who's lost control of the monster he'd created out of the carcass of the Tea Party movement.


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