AZ & GA-Sen B: NYT, “Republican Senators in Arizona and Georgia Have a Problem: The Base”


From The New York Times:

As Representative Doug Collins went booth to booth at a recent Republican jamboree in northeast Georgia’s Rabun County, he was a hero, not an insurgent. No one knocked him for splitting the party with his bid against the state’s junior senator, Kelly Loeffler, who is also a Republican. For many voters in the deeply conservative region, Mr. Collins was the candidate who most represented the values of their political icon: President Trump.

This feeling — that the Republican base understands Trumpism and its best messengers better than G.O.P. leaders — is shaping the race in Georgia, as well as another Senate battleground contest this year in Arizona. There, Senator Martha McSally, a Republican, faces not only a energized Democratic electorate but a skeptical right-wing base. In both states, Republican governors appointed the senators, who now have to win their seats for themselves in November’s election.

In Georgia, many grass-roots conservatives are still bitter that Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Ms. Loeffler over Mr. Collins to the Senate in 2019 in what they say was a sop to the state’s Republican business and consultant class. They hope to soon right that wrong.

“I’m not opposed to the sitting senator, I’m just for Doug Collins,” said Lauren “Bubba” McDonald Jr., a member of the state’s public service commission whose local claim to fame was being the only statewide elected official to endorse Mr. Trump early in the 2016 Republican primary.

Mr. McDonald, who pointed to Mr. Collins’s fierce performance on the Judiciary Committee during Mr. Trump’s impeachment hearings, added, “Think of it this way: we have no reason not to support Doug Collins.”

In an interview, Mr. Collins summed up the race this way: “The biggest issue here is I’m the right person for Georgia.”

Many Republican candidates face a perplexing electoral landscape this year, given that Mr. Trump’s conduct has endeared him to the party’s most conservative groups, but has soured some suburban moderates and seniors who are vital parts of any swing state coalition. These candidates are walking a tightrope, made more difficult by a voter base that doesn’t just want to elect Republicans, but rather loyal foot soldiers who take on Mr. Trump’s political and cultural enemies.

It is the long-term political war over how Trumpism is best expressed — not the short-term battle over Mr. Trump himself — and how a party that has been driven by early-morning tweets for four years will seek to survive the next 40.

In the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections, a record number of House Republicans chose not to seek re-election rather than face conflict with the conservative base, and even a favorable Senate map saw Republicans lose in states like Arizona and Nevada.

With Mr. Trump on the ballot this year, it will be even harder for candidates to paper over the differences, and the uneasy relationship between the party’s most right-wing voters and the statewide Republicans like Ms. Loeffler and Ms. McSally who rely on their votes is bursting into the open.

Governors in both Arizona and Georgia are currently confronting this political challenge, after opening up their states’s economies at the urging of the president and those in the media who support him, only to face pressure to reverse course after coronavirus cases surged.

Polling also shows that Ms. Loeffler and Ms. McSally are underdogs in their respective races, facing an energized Democratic electorate in addition to their inner-party wrangling. Ms. Loeffler and Ms. McSally, and the governors who appointed them, declined or did not respond to requests to be interviewed for this story.

The voters rejected McSally in 2018 so it was a really stupid move by Governor Doug Ducey (R. AZ) to appoint her. Not only does she continue to trail Mark Kelly (D. AZ) in every poll, she continues to get bombarded with bad press, especially from her past:

Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) wrote in a 2007 academic paper that women in the military should be counseled to avoid the “foolishness of entering into a lifetime commitment (motherhood)” to dodge deployment, calling on the Pentagon to change the policy that would allow pregnant women to “skirt” deployment. McSally’s article, called Women in Combat: Is the Current Policy Obsolete?, was published in the Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy and was the subject of a later lecture at Duke University School of Law. McSally expanded on the article in her lecture, suggesting that women should “go work at Walmart” if they want to have children. McSally, who lost the Senate election in 2018 but was appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey to fill the late Sen. John McCain’s seat, is up for re-election in 2020. She faces Democrat Mark Kelly, who has consistently beaten her in polls and is the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

As for Loeffler, she’s double down on her idiotic dog whistling:

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) doubled down on her stance against Black Lives Matter on Wednesday night, saying that the movement — which was regalvanized nationwide following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd at the end of May — is antithetical to American principles.

“[Black Lives Matter] is a very divisive organization based on marxist principles,” Loeffler, who faces a tough special election battle in November, told Fox News's Laura Ingraham. “This is an organization that seeks to destroy the American principles and I had to draw the line.”

Loeffler also called the Black Lives Matter group “anti-Semitic” and claimed that the group is against the “nuclear family.”

The anti-Semitic accusation comes after Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson made an anti-Semitic post on Instagram Tuesday night.

Former NBA player Stephen Jackson, who was close friends with Floyd and has been an outspoken figure in the Black Lives Matter movement, initially defended Jackson's post, saying in a now-deleted video, “You know he don't hate nobody, but he's speaking the truth of the facts that he knows and trying to educate others.”

Jackson walked his comments back Wednesday night after receiving major backlash.

“As I first stated when I got on here, I could've changed my words,” Jackson told CNN. “But there's nothing that said that I support any of that. There's nothing that I said that I hate anybody.”

Meanwhile, both Kelly and Rev. Raphael Warnock (D. GA) are focusing on helping the country recover from the coronavirus pandemic:



— Captain Mark Kelly (@CaptMarkKelly) July 9, 2020

Let’s have the Blue Wave hit Arizona and Georgia hard this year. Click below to donate and get involved with Kelly, Warnock, Biden and their fellow Georgia and Arizona Democrats campaigns:

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