The power of the Trump endorsement is waning and nowhere was it more apparent than last night’s Georgia Republican primary runoffs. The former president has struggled to translate his endorsements into victories for a GOP seeking electoral gains in the 2022 midterm elections. Trump’s endorsement has been a boon for some primary candidates — most notably J.D. Vance in Ohio — but it’s far from a golden ticket as the party works to find common ground between factions bitterly divided over the future of American conservatism.
In Georgia, Trump-backed candidates floundered in their runoff elections. In GA-10, former Democratic state representative-turned Trump Republican Vernon Jones was trounced by Mike Collins, suffering a nearly 50-point loss. In GA-06, the Trump endorsement more than failed to pull Jake Evans across the finish line. He lost by more than 40 points to Rich McCormick.
In Alabama’s Republican primary runoff, former lobbyist Katie Britt defeated six-term congressman and Trump loyalist Mo Brooks. Trump rescinded his endorsement of Brooks before the May primary, citing Brooks how (months earlier) stated that he felt the party needed to put the 2020 election loss behind them, instead backing Britt at the last second.
Across the primaries, candidates professing their loyalty to Trumpism in exchange for a coveted endorsement are ending campaigns in concession speeches. Embroiled congressman Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) failed to win his primary despite public pleas to voters from the former president on his behalf. In Idaho, far-right Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin failed in her attempt to unseat incumbent Governor Brad Little. McGeachin had been a vocal supporter of Trump’s attempts to cast doubt on the results of the 2020 presidential election, and lost by over 20 points. Alleged sexual predator, and Trump’s pick for Nebraska governor, Charles Herbster also failed to make it past his primary, as well. Perhaps most notably, former senator David Perdue failed his assignment to unseat Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, whom the former President maligned for failing to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia.
Looking forward, Trump-backed candidates still in the fight are reconsidering how closely to align their public image with Trump’s. Oprah’s witch doctor-turned Fox News talking head-turned Pennsylvania Senate candidate Mehmet Oz has dropped much of his pro-Trump campaign messaging in an effort to translate a narrow primary victory into broader appeal to Pennsylvania conservatives. The strategy is similar to the one employed by Glenn Youngkin in his successful campaign for the Virginia governorship, touting his love of Trump in the primary before distancing himself from the former president in the general election.
Questions will continue to swirl regarding the value of Trump’s backing in the 2022 midterms. The Republican Party is desperate to take control of the House and Senate, and looking to level a strong challenge for the presidency in 2024. Woe to them if they find themselves caught between the rock of ineffective endorsements from an unstable conspiracy theorist hell bent on rehashing the 2020 election, and the hard place of a scorned former president weaponizing his base against the party.