In a video-taped message to attendees, Donald Trump lavished praise on Peach State Republicans but excluded mentioning Raffensperger and Kemp, both of whom are running for reelection.
In other words, try as he might, Kemp will be haunted by the petty, unforgiving ghost of Trump right into 2022 and for as long as Trump retains so much as a breath of life in him. No action, no concession short of symbolically declaring Trump the rightful winner of Georgia will restore Kemp to good standing.
But Kemp’s it’s-never-enough fate is just a microcosm of a bigger problem for the Republican Party. In order to remain worthy of Trump’s endorsement, Republicans at both the federal and state level will always have to pass some new litmus test. Trump’s latest obsession, of course, is the scam audit in Arizona that he’s trying to force on other states.
In a statement last week, Trump issued new marching orders to GOP leaders in Pennsylvania to initiate their own audit of the 2020 vote. “If the Pennsylvania Senate leadership doesn’t act, there is no way they will ever get re-elected!” Trump threatened.
Trump’s tweet deepened a rift that was already tearing through the Keystone state GOP after several of its lawmakers visited Arizona to observe the Maricopa County fraudit, or as Trump put it, to “learn the best practices” of trying to sew the baseless seeds of doubt in voters’ minds.
Upon the return of those lawmakers, the GOP lawmaker who chairs the committee of jurisdiction on election matters tweeted that Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives would “not be authorizing” any further audits of 2020, according to the Associated Press.
But the recent travails of two state Republican parties are a perfect reminder that Trump’s demented presence will remain a complicating feature of Republicans’ midterm electoral efforts. Whatever GOP leaders such as Kemp, Mitch McConnell, or Kevin McCarthy think their agenda is, Trump’s agenda will be wedded to relitigating a truth that has been killing him softly since last November—he’s a world-class loser.