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Even the most Trump senators don’t feel safe in the GOP primaries

The choice in North Dakota’s U.S. Senate race, according to one of the candidates, is a simple one: a bowl of oatmeal, or an avocado-egg breakfast plate.

That metaphor was recently posted on Facebook, as a meme, by Rick Becker, a Republican lawmaker who just launched a major campaign to debunk incumbent Republican Senator John Hoeven peace.

Neither of their names are referenced. But the hint was clear: Becker — a breath-taking MAGA conservative popular with the far right of the state — was seen as an interesting and delicious choice.

And Hoeven — a two-term reserved senator who is as likely to appear on an agricultural policy newsletter as he is on Fox News — is seen as bland oats.

The essence of Becker’s pitch to GOP primary voters is that comparing the excitement inspired by breakfast treats is perhaps the most revealing window into what this race really is. what.

In the era of Donald Trump, many Republican incumbents have found themselves on the wrong side of the former president – and the party establishment he commands – for defying him, disagreeing with him, or simply did not do enough to support him.

It’s nearly impossible to say Hoeven is guilty of any of that. Only four current GOP senators have voted with Trump more often than Hoeven, according to FiveThirtyEight.

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Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty

At each Trump impeachment trial, Hoeven voted to acquit the president, and he later voted for initiated the establishment of an independent commission is investigating Jan. 6. The most scathing statement the senator made after the Capitol riot was that Trump “shouldn’t have encouraged the protest.”

However, in today’s GOP, it’s probably not enough for a politician to have Not insult Trump or his supporters to be safe. Republicans may have to recast Trump’s belligerent and often deliberately offensive image.

Hoeven is hardly the only GOP senator under threat this election year, as the party’s voters increasingly crave MAGA fighters.

Of the 14 candidates looking to run for re-election, a total of five are facing potentially competitive primaries from challengers taking the top spot of America First. They range from Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), a staunch critic of Trump, to Sens. Hoeven, John Boozman (R-AR), James Lankford (R-OK) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), each of whom did or said little to run away from the party base.

Meanwhile, none of the 12 Democratic senators for re-election have to worry about breaking a sweat for an actual primary.

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Re-elected Republican senators who are facing Republican primary challenges. From left to right: Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), Senator John Boozman (R-AR), Senator James Lankford (R-OK) and Senators Congressman Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

Image illustrated by The Daily Beast / Getty

Some Republicans see the frenzy as a sign of broader enthusiasm by the GOP in this year’s election year, in which they’ve been supported to regain control of Congress. In 2018, a significant year for the Democrats, three of their incumbents faced serious key challenges.

But more than Democrats, Republican primaries in every corner of the country are increasingly hungry for — and ready to vote — fighters who prioritize against the nation’s culture wars. and support Trump on right-wing television and social media.

That sentiment has been reflected this year in the number of House Republicans facing MAGA-driven primaries, as well as unusually high number of GOP governors face similar primaries of their own. Several Senate primaries have also become contests of which candidate makes Trump best—or Marjorie Taylor Greene-impressive.

The U.S. Senate, with its six-year term, is generally a place where members have space to accumulate power and carefully build political activism in DC and at home. A sitting senator has been unsuccessful for 10 years.

But in this tumultuous time for the party, some Republicans warn that no one – not even the staunchly conservative senators – can consider themselves safe.

“Given the environment, there’s bound to be a surprise in one of these primaries,” said Ken Spain, longtime Republican strategist.

Spain continued: “Those who only run for election every six years are often not in good shape when it comes to competitive races. “It’s very easy to get caught with flat feet, if you’re not running aggressively.”

That’s especially so in the specific states where these primaries are taking place, which are among the most solidly Republican in the country. Some incumbents are running for re-election this year, one moderator said, simply not operating in their own state as if they were in real danger of losing.

In these more rural states – where TV airtime is cheap and voters are smaller – a challenger can get away with raising less money than an incumbent. America First’s self-branding challengers were all greatly appreciated by their incumbents, but still brought in six-figure sums in an election year.

Because of the deep red color of these states, the primaries will not be able to alter the balance of partisan power in the equally divided Senate. But the contests could shift the balance of power within the Republican Party.

As Republican strategists like Spain note, the obvious possibility is that an incumbent could lose. In a nutshell, in an attempt to deny a defiant faction to run against them, GOP senators could take on more of Trump’s position.

However, if the primaries are MAGA-style rather than conservative, some incumbents have proudly raced the latter — now.

Lankford, for example, faces a challenge from Pastor Jackson Lahmeyer of the far right of Tulsa, who has been endorsed by the president of the Oklahoma GOP. In an interview at the Capitol on Wednesday, Lankford said challengers are prepared “not on policy” but “in volume.”

“This is a season where some people want to see someone get louder and scream more, because they’re angry,” Lankford continued. “I understand their frustration or anger, quite frankly, I get that. I just don’t think yelling at people is going to solve anything.”

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Pastor Jackson Lahmeyer, who is challenging Senator James Lankford (R-OK)

Mike Simons / Tulsa World via AP

Pressed about the ongoing issues of his race — where a former MAGA-affiliated soccer star named Jake Bequette is playing the main game — Boozman declines, instead voicing the activities of the teams. constitutive service at his office.

“I don’t know why he’s running,” the Arkansas senator finally said gravely of Bequette.

But most senators are taking the challenge seriously. And there is proof for that.

Although it was early in the election cycle, Lankford was already paying for TV commercials in Oklahoma. Last week, Boozman also brought TV commercials to Arkansas, after a mysterious super PAC dropped nearly $1 million on Bequette-supported ads.

Additionally, Grassley — who may be the only incumbent to make it past the preliminary round to compete remotely with the Democrats — is running Facebook ads and raising funds for his campaign. So is Murkowski. Hoeven seems to be the only candidate who hasn’t placed any TV or online commercials yet.

When asked about the incumbent challenges, Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), chairman of the GOP Senate’s official advocacy group, downplayed the threats, calling them “part of the process.” “.

“All the incumbents are going to win,” said Scott.

According to Spain, some challenges are so fragile that they “border on the absurd”.

Spain said: “A lot of incumbent senators have done a great job on their policy records, but the question that seems to be on the minds of Republican voters is whether you participate in How heavy is the culture war? ”

Indeed, the challengers, in their teens, are already deep in the culture war. In Oklahoma, for example, Lahmeyer made the round of COVID skeptics a staple of his campaign. Bequette’s Twitter feed is also filled with right-wing media discussions about masks and vaccines.

In the “issues” section of his website, Becker, a North Dakota Republican, has “COVID tyranny” and “Radical Coercion (CRT, BLM, Sexism)” listed. along with “Energy and Environment” and “Immigration”.

More important for these challengers is to outdo the incumbents with an almost comically loyal level of loyalty to Donald Trump.

Kelly Tshibaka, who is challenging Murkowski, may be the only challenger with a real-life case on that front. The Alaskan senator has long opposed the creation of the GOP and Trump, voted to convict him in a second impeachment trial.

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Kelly Tshibaka, who is challenging Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

AP Photo / Mark Thiessen File

Others, however, mostly grasp at straws. Lahmeyer launched a campaign against Lankford because the senator originally planned to oppose Joe Biden’s certification of the electoral college vote on January 6 and then voted to do so after the riots — along with pretty much every other GOP senator.

The pro-Bequette super PAC ads in Arkansas claimed that “too many Republicans were too weak to stop” Democrats and displayed an image of Boozman with the phrase “RINO Republican” on it. However, the ads never explained why, Boozman was “a Republican in name only”.

Jim Carlin, the Iowa senator challenging Grassley, made the 88-year-old incumbent’s long term in office part of his case. But he also accused Grassley of not doing enough to get to the bottom of a nonexistent election fraud plot in 2020.

“The people we rely on to tell the truth have let us down by not seeking the truth,” Carlin said in a February 2021 speech, after he launched his campaign.

Perhaps there is some method to that madness. Any GOP candidate knows that an endorsement from Trump can be a game changer, whether it’s to beat the main candidate or to make a real possible challenge.

So far, Trump has endorsed Tshibaka in Alaska, which sets up a major proxy war between the MAGA world and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who is staunchly supporting Murkowski. . The former president also endorsed Boozman in March 2021, although that was before Bequette entered the race.

A close Trump ally, Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND), told The Daily Beast on Wednesday that he spoke with the former president recently about the 2022 picture. Cramer expects Trump to return “most” of the incumbents. “These are the people who worked with him and helped him and his agenda,” he said.

But Cramer added that Trump “likes warriors” and “has some admiration for people sticking their heads out of foxholes.”

“That personality trait,” says Cramer, “is what a lot of people want from us.”

https://www.thedailybeast.com/even-the-trumpiest-senators-dont-feel-safe-in-gop-primaries?source=articles&via=rss Even the most Trump senators don’t feel safe in the GOP primaries

Russell Falcon

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