Rep. Kay Granger, a once pro-abortion congresswoman who called on Trump to exit the 2016 presidential race, just won her primary because Trump endorsed her against a MAGA challenger. Now she will be the chair of the House Appropriations Committee if Republicans take over the House. Granger, as the top GOP appropriator, is the reason why Planned Parenthood was funded but not ICE or the border wall in 2017-2018 and will be the reason this continues in 2021. It didn’t have to be this way.
In 2016, a revolution occurred within the Republican Party, wherein 70 percent of primary voters chose either Trump or Cruz, candidates vehemently opposed by the party establishment. It was a recognition that people like Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan, and John Boehner, along with the presidential candidates representing their lack of an ideological core, have failed to offer a bold contrast to the inexorable slide into cultural Marxism. The people were ready for a new path to put Americans first in sovereignty, security, and economics.
But the swamp doesn’t drain on its own. Despite the election of Trump to the top job, the Republican Party down-ballot has not changed one iota, as witnessed by the trend of almost every governor rejecting Trump’s plan to block refugee resettlement. Now, each and every one of those swamp monsters, the minute they sense a credible threat from a pro-Trump candidate, marshal the support of people like Kevin McCarthy to get Trump’s endorsement. What sort of message does this send to Trump’s most ardent supporters?
Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, who was a strong supporter of Mitt Romney, called on Trump to drop out of the race in 2016. She is quintessentially the type of country-club Republican that Trump voters have had enough of. Chris Putnam mounted a credible challenge and was doing reasonably well, until Trump came in and endorsed Granger. She won Tuesday night, 59%-41%.
In reiterating his endorsement this week, Trump even added in, along with the rote “strong on border” trope, that she is “100% pro-life.” He never had to do this before, because every Republican on paper is usually pro-life. Granger actually was never known to be pro-life. And she certainly has not been strong on the border, as she accused Trump of “tear[ing] apart families” at the border, as if the illegal aliens, not the American people, were the victims of the border crisis.
It is simply impossible for a grassroots candidate to win whenever Trump endorses a swamp Republican. The message to his base is: “Don’t even try.” So long as Trump is president, it’s impossible to defeat a swamp incumbent. If we are essentially getting whoever McCarthy wants in a GOP primary, aren’t we back to pre-2016?
Trump must remember other candidates looking to follow his lead don’t have the money or fame that he had. They can’t defeat the establishment on their own, and they certainly can’t do so with the weight of Trump’s endorsement against them.
Last night, there were numerous GOP primaries for solid red seats that are open due to retiring establishment Republicans. If we can’t win against incumbents, we can at least win in open seats, right? Well, very few inspiring candidates made it to a runoff, much less came in first last night. If Trump wants more allies like Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows, he must realize that his endorsement strategy is dissuading these people from even running. Very few newbies will be added to the Freedom Caucus.
The prototype of who won most races last night is Mitt Romney, who, incidentally, was also endorsed by Trump against another candidate. It’s a failure of conservatives to remain focused on their own primaries and pressure the president to help drain the swamp rather than refill it.
What happens now? Kay Granger can go back to being a liberal Republican, just like another RINO who won last night thanks to Trump’s endorsement. Thom Tillis won his primary last night after a potentially viable challenger dropped out of the race following Trump’s endorsement. The minute Tillis won Trump’s endorsement, he went back to supporting amnesty for illegal aliens. Ditto for Lindsey Graham, who is also up for re-election this year.
It’s not just Trump’s support for swampy incumbents that’s a problem. He is endorsing this type of candidate even in open seats where there is no excuse for the president to get involved, certainly not on the side of the swamp. Take, for example, his endorsement of Bill Hagerty, “a longtime friend and adviser to former presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney,” in Tennessee. There are several other inspiring candidates in this solid red state, but Trump has to pick the country-club Republican?
Absent a strong outside push from conservatives, the president is only going to hear from one echo chamber – the swamp itself. It looks like Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell have convinced President Trump to hit the “refill” button on the swamp tank rather than the “drain” button.