Former President Donald Trump is not on the ballot as a Senate candidate this year. And yet Wednesday, Trump’s mug was all over the website for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the GOP organization that is supposed to help flip the Senate back into Republican hands.
During the usual midterm elections, a 50-50 Senate could be expected to fall to the opposition party. Yet with victory obtainable, Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., chairman of the NRSC, has chosen to use his power to promote Trump, who isn’t on any ballot.
“Still my president,” reads one NRSC slide as if the mayor of Mar-a-Lago is on the ticket.
Here Scott has something in common with President Joe Biden. Biden also wants to make 2022 not about his flailing administration but about Trump. Ditto Scott, whose focus might make more sense if Biden weren’t underwater by more than 12 points, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average.
Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a blistering story about how Scott’s NRSC raised a record $181 million, which would be great except the new regime burned through more than 95 percent of the haul.
The Democrats’ senatorial counterpart has more than twice the cash on hand as the NRSC.
The headline for Shane Goldmacher’s piece: “How a Record Cash Haul Vanished for Senate Republicans.”
The Times also noted Scott’s failure to assist primary hopefuls more likely to win in November. The result: a collection of candidates who, like Scott when he voted not to certify the 2020 election results, say Trump won.
Here you see a problem the GOP has yet to outrun. The base picks candidates who want to believe 2020 was stolen — at the risk of alienating other Republicans and independents who don’t buy into the big lie.
Thus, Scott has found himself in a feud of sorts with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has questioned the “candidate quality” of first-time GOP candidates running for Senate.
Scott responded with an op-ed in the Washington Examiner. While he did not name names, Scott charged that “many of the very people responsible for losing the Senate last cycle are now trying to stop us from winning the majority this time by trash-talking our Republican candidates. It’s an amazing act of cowardice, and ultimately, it’s treasonous to the conservative cause.”
Diplomatic? No. McConnell was brutally honest.
But an act of cowardice? For some reason, Trump voters have embraced the fantasy that theirs is the courage corner, when really, standing up to Trump is what takes spine in today’s GOP.
The Trump base loves to hate the most effective Republican in Washington. In February 2016, the then-Senate minority leader announced he would delay a vote on then-President Barack Obama’s pick for the U.S. Supreme Court until after the election. McConnell had power and wasn’t afraid to use it.
McConnell is everything the Trump base claims to value — except he is not a shameless Trump suck-up. Scott wins that contest hands down.
Debra J. Saunders is a fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Chapman Center for Citizen Leadership. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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