ICYMI: Daily Beast Highlights “GOP’s Anti-Governor Revolt of 2022”
The Daily Beast reported today that Republican governors across the nation are at risk as they face primary challengers from the right and battle for the support of Donald Trump.
“Months away from their primary contests in this 2022 midterm election, a number of Republican governors nationwide are under siege,” the Daily Beast wrote.
The article highlights several GOP governors facing significant threats to reelection, including Govs. Brad Little, Mike DeWine, and Brian Kemp— all of whom face challengers either angling for or already with Trump’s backing.
“That is a testament to Trump’s ironclad hold on the GOP for a fourth election cycle,” the article reads. “Indeed, his endorsement means as much as ever, and his singular ability to turn conservative darlings into enemies overnight is the wildcard in every Republican primary nationwide.”
The Daily Beast also warned that far-right candidates could lead the GOP to “lurch further right,” forcing incumbents to shift too. In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker decided against running for reelection to avoid “what would have been a bitter primary” against Trump-endorsed Geoff Diehl.
“The GOP is being overtaken by extremists, and sitting Republican governors are enemy number one,” said DGA Communications Director David Turner. “As infighting drags Republicans to the far-right, Democratic governors are focused on delivering solutions for hard-working families.”
Read below for key excerpts from the report:
Brad Little is no RINO.
It’s unclear exactly why Trump decided to personally lend his support to a mutiny against a governor who, to that point, had really done nothing to provoke his ire. The ex-president’s endorsement announcement offered no clues. Not only did it lack the typical smears of a Trump foe, he didn’t mention Little once.
What is clear, however, is that the factors driving the right-wing effort to unseat Little are not unique to him, or to Idaho. Months away from their primary contests in this 2022 midterm election, a number of Republican governors nationwide are under siege.
Of the 15 GOP chief executives who are running for re-election, eight are facing at least one primary challenger running a real campaign. That number stands in stark contrast to the number of credible primary threats faced by the eight Democratic governors running for re-election: zero.
It’s an unprecedented phenomenon for the party, Republican operatives say. “I can’t think of a time when we had this many competitive, or somewhat competitive, Republican primaries for governor,” said a GOP strategist following governor races this cycle. “I don’t think anyone is a lock.”
The GOP’s anti-governor revolt of 2022 has been fueled by the enduring influence of two of the most powerful features in conservative politics: the pandemic, and Trump.
COVID, for example, is the defining feature of the campaign to oust Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. An establishment Republican with a long record in politics, the party’s base started loathing DeWine for being a rare red-state executive who embraced mask mandates and other public health measures. His chief rival is former Rep. Jim Renacci, a MAGA stalwart who is openly angling for the ex-president’s backing.
That is a testament to Trump’s ironclad hold on the GOP for a fourth election cycle. Indeed, his endorsement means as much as ever, and his singular ability to turn conservative darlings into enemies overnight is the wildcard in every Republican primary nationwide.
The primary motivation for Trump to target GOP incumbents himself isn’t COVID, however, but his endless sense of grievance—particularly around the 2020 election.
Ever since his loss, Trump has punished Republican officeholders who did not try to toss out Joe Biden’s electoral victory. This is the only real issue facing Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, for example, who is being challenged by former GOP Sen. David Perdue almost entirely over Kemp’s obligation to certify Georgia’s election results.
But even if the GOP’s primary bumper crop yields no flipped seats, the political impact could still be significant. If governors in safely red states are replaced with even more conservative and even more Trump-aligned Republicans, the party’s center of gravity in statehouses around the country will lurch further right. And in order to beat their challengers, incumbents will likely have to shift that way themselves.
At least one popular GOP incumbent, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, chose to forgo re-election rather than endure what would have been a bitter primary against a Trump-endorsed challenger, Geoff Diehl. That challenge effectively benches Baker, one of the party’s few prominent and politically viable moderates, and all but ensures Democrats will flip the seat.
In the Texas primary, Gov. Greg Abbott faces Allen West, the notorious far-right ex-congressman and former state GOP chairman; Don Huffines, a wealthy former state lawmaker; and Chad Prather, a conservative radio personality. Huffines, for example, claims that Texas is “turning blue under our RINO leadership.”
The GOP’s official arm for governor’s races, the Republican Governors’ Association, did not respond to a request for comment on the primary landscape.