Herschel Walker’s Tuesday night loss to Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in Georgia reignited midterm complaints from many Republicans that former President Donald Trump had cost the party control of Congress.
Walker, a candidate hand-picked by Trump, was the only Republican up for statewide election in Georgia to lose their race. Meanwhile, Trump-endorsed candidates also lost their Senate races in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Georgia and New Hampshire, costing the GOP control of the Senate.
Walker’s poor performance has once again led to Republicans arguing it is time to move on from Trump, with some commentators saying Georgia will be a blue state so long as Trump remains head of the party.
“Should’ve been clear in the 2020 election and runoffs and even clearer when [Gov. Brian] Kemp trounced his primary opponent earlier this year–Georgia has grown impervious to President Trump’s charms,” wrote GOP operative Matt Whitlock.
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“If he’s on a future ballot there, I’d count the state in the blue column,” Whitlock added.
Meghan McCain tweed in all-caps that “CANDIDATE QUALITY MATTERS.” The phrase has become a rallying cry for Republicans who believe Trump endorsed outlandish candidates who turned easy victories into close races, and close races into losses.
Walker’s loss has resulted in a battle over how to interpret the election, with Trump allies arguing the party’s establishment is to blame for not properly supporting candidates.
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Trump’s critics within the party point to the strong performance of candidates who didn’t tie themselves to the former president, however. Those candidates, like Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and others, won their races despite having the same level of support from the GOP establishment.
While Walker lost his race in Georgia by roughly 3 points, his fellow Republicans up for statewide election there all won by 5 points or more.
Tuesday night’s criticisms of Trump echo the grim tones from Republicans on November 8 when it became clear that the GOP was not going to win Congress as expected.
“All the chatter on my conservative and GOP channels is rage at Trump like I’ve never seen,” Michael Brendan Dougherty, a senior writer at National Review, wrote on Twitter at the time. “‘The one guy he attacked before Election Day was DeSantis — the clear winner, meanwhile, all his guys are s—ing the bed.'”
Walker’s loss also comes just days after Republican Senators began distancing themselves from Trump over his comments calling for the “termination” of parts of the Constitution.
Trump brought up his attack on the constitution in response to the release of the “Twitter Files,” a trove of documents detailing Twitter’s communications on censorship in the 2020 election. Trump argued the files showed evidence of “fraud and deception” in the 2020 election.
“A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,” Trump wrote. “Our great ‘Founders’ did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!”
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Exasperated Senate Republicans suggested it was time to ditch the former president.
“I’m at a loss for words. We need to move on,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told Politico on Tuesday, adding that Trump winning the GOP nomination is “increasingly less likely, given statements like that.”