Senate

Senate GOP fears another Trump disaster in Georgia runoff  

Senate Republicans are worried that former President Trump may derail their chances of winning the runoff election in Georgia next month if he announces his 2024 presidential campaign in the next few weeks, and again thrusts his unsubstantiated claims of widespread election fraud into the spotlight.  

Trump’s critics in the GOP establishment are blaming him for their disappointing performance in Tuesday’s election, in which Republican candidates lost key races across the country and Republican turnout fell short of expectations.  

Republican strategists worry that if the Dec. 6 Georgia runoff between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and GOP candidate Herschel Walker turns into a referendum on Trump, it will likely result in a loss that could cost them control of the Senate. 

“Hopefully Trump will stay out of the race as much as he possibly can and if that means holding off announcing his campaign for the White House, that would be a smart move not just for Republicans’ chances in Georgia but Trump’s hopes to win the nomination for president,” said one GOP aide, who requested anonymity to discuss concerns about Trump’s impact on the Georgia race.  

“If you talk to Georgia election strategists, they believe Trump was a huge drag on Walker in suburban Atlanta and there’s just no reason to risk repeating that,” the source said. “If Trump injects himself into the race somehow and Walker comes up short, that’s really bad for Trump too.”  

Senate Republicans fear a reprise of the two Senate runoff elections they lost in Georgia last year, which cost Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) their seats and flipped control of the Senate to Democrats.  

Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pressed White House chief of staff Mark Meadows before the January 2021 runoff elections in Georgia to rein in Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud in Georgia.  

Trump, however, ignored the entreaties and campaigned in Georgia the day before voters went to the polls. He claimed during an hour-and-20-minute rally that “there’s no way we lost Georgia” to Joe Biden and declared the election was “rigged.”    

Perdue wound up receiving 215,000 fewer votes in the runoff election compared to what he won in the general election two months before, while his rival, Democrat Jon Ossoff, saw a drop-off of less than half that at 104,000 votes.  

A Senate Republican aide warned that Trump could crush Republican hopes of winning back the Senate majority if he makes the Georgia runoff all about advancing his own presidential ambitions.   

“I think it’s still possible that we win Nevada and then it all comes down to Georgia,” said a Senate Republican aide. “I think that we can win Georgia if Trump doesn’t tell people not to vote.  

“But if he’s going to come out in five days and announce his presidential run, that’s not going to be great for us,” the aide added. “He doesn’t know how to do anything other than make things about him.” 

Retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) on Thursday said Trump hurt Republican chances of winning the Pennsylvania Senate race by inserting himself into the contest between Mehmet Oz and John Fetterman.  

“President Trump had to insert himself and that changed the nature of the race and that created just too much of an obstacle,” Toomey said on CNN.  

Trump held a rally for Oz and gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano in Latrobe, Pa., a few days before Election Day. 

“And by the way, it’s not just Pennsylvania. You look all over the country, there’s a very high correlation between MAGA candidates and big losses, or at least dramatically underperforming,” Toomey added, referring to Trump’s slogan, Make America Great Again.  

The message appears to be getting through to Trump’s circle of advisers.    

Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Trump, told Newsmax in an interview that he’s encouraging Trump to hold off on his presidential campaign announcement until after the Georgia runoff.  

“Of course, President Trump had said he’d be making an announcement on Nov. 15, next Tuesday. I’m advising the president to hold off until after the Georgia race,” he said.  

“Priorities A, B and C need to be about Herschel right now,” he added. “This is bigger than anything else in the country. We’ve got to show the focus is on Georgia.”  

Trump on Monday announced that he would make “a big announcement” on Nov. 15 at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla.  

Senate Republicans are bracing for the possibility that it could be a presidential campaign kickoff speech.  

As things now stand, Republicans will control at least 49 Senate seats next year, which means they need to win two of the three unresolved races in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada to control the majority in 2023.  

Republican candidate Adam Laxalt is leading Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) by roughly 35,000 votes with approximately 83 percent of ballots counted.  

Sen. Mark Kelly (D) is leading Republican Blake Masters by nearly 100,000 votes with about 70 percent of ballots cast.  

If Laxalt and Kelly hang onto their leads and the parties split those two states, then the runoff in Georgia will decide control of the Senate.  

Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) on Wednesday urged Trump to be careful not to disrupt Republican prospects of winning the Georgia runoff.  

Lott told SiriusXM host Steve Scully in an interview that Trump “could” have a negative impact on the race and said he believed he hurt Perdue and Loeffler last year. 

“It did last time. When President Trump went in there I got the impression it depressed the vote on the Republican side and we lost both senators,” he said. “That cost us the majority in the Senate.  

“We’re going to have to be careful about what we do and I would hope that former President Trump would be careful about what he does there,” he added.  

Trump continues to push his claims that the 2020 election was stolen and has demanded that the candidates he supports embrace his views, though he has failed to back them up with evidence.  

Trump on Thursday wrote on his Truth Social social media platform that Oz made a “mistake” in the Pennsylvania Senate race by not supporting his claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

On Wednesday, he said that retired Army Gen. Don Bolduc lost the New Hampshire Senate race to Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) because he backed away from his previous assertion that the 2020 election had been stolen.  

“Don Bolduc was a very nice guy, but he lost tonight when he disavowed, after his big primary win, his long-standing stance on Election Fraud in the 2020 Presidential Primary,” Trump wrote on Truth Social.  

Tags 2022 midterms 2022 midterms Senate Donald Trump Georgia Herschel Walker Herschel Walker Mitch McConnell Pat Toomey Raphael Warnock Warnock

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