(CNN) — Donald Trump hasn’t won much of Georgia since 2016.
Although the former president won the Peach State (the Estado Durazno, as it is known in Spanish) on his way to the White House six years ago, it has been a disastrous landscape for him ever since he rejected his first re-election nomination. given and their candidate for intermediate. Meanwhile, his former advisers and aides have been called before a special grand jury in the state probing his efforts to overthrow President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory.
This Tuesday, Trump’s futility streak in Georgia could continue unless Herschel Walker, former Georgia football player and Heisman Trophy winner, can carry the banner of the MAGA movement over the goal line.
The Georgia Senate runoff represents Trump’s last chance to rebuild a painful midseason in which his re-election denied candidates flopped in swing states, casting a shadow over his 2024 presidential run. A Walker victory would be a victory. Unusual for one of Trump’s recruits and will potentially boost his lackluster campaign while helping Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell limit Democratic power in Washington.
But Walker’s defeat after his obsession with false claims of voter fraud will add to frustration in the GOP over Trump’s political meddling, which has been widely blamed for costing the party control of the Senate in Georgia in 2021.
The former president’s record in Georgia is so poor that he is not wanted in the state as Walker has tried in recent weeks to defeat Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. The biggest blow for Trump was that his presumptive candidate spent his time flirting with newly-elected Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who was far ahead of Walker in November. Kemp defeated a Trump-endorsed challenger in the primary earlier this year, defying the former president’s effort to refuse to overturn Biden’s narrow 2020 victory in the state.
Trump’s losing streak in 2022
Although he was considered impersonal for the Senate runoff, Trump called a televised rally in Georgia on Monday night, when it was likely that some 2 million Georgians had voted early.
“A vote for Raphael Warnock is a vote to give Chuck Schumer and the deranged leftist Democrats complete control of the United States Senate. We cannot allow this to happen,” Trump said in the brief appearance.
But if Walker loses on Tuesday, Trump’s poor record in several midterm races that matter in 2022 will end and there will be a strong case that after embracing weaker candidates in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Arizona, he may once again struggling with. Republican Party control of the Senate.
For example, Walker has denied numerous reports that he pressured or encouraged women to have abortions, while previously on the campaign trail said he supported banning the procedure without exception. CNN’s KFile raised new questions about Walker’s residency when it was revealed that he would only get a primary residence tax exemption this year at his home in the Dallas, Texas area. KFile also reported that Walker described himself as living in Texas during a speech during the 2022 campaign. And Walker’s bizarre comments, such as whether it was better to be a werewolf or a vampire, in a recent speech called into question his fitness for the job. ,
Georgia Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, another Republican politician from the state who has clashed with Trump, last week described Walker to CNN’s Erin Burnett as “probably the worst Republican candidate in the history of politics.”
But Trump really needs Walker to step up this Tuesday.
The former president’s recent lack of success, coupled with his increasingly extremist rhetoric and associations, including anti-Semitism, is one reason why some Republicans and major donors say now is the time for a new approach. The President: Probably newly elected Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Thus, Trump desperately needs a Walker victory to reset the ramifications of his stuttering presidential bid after a low-voltage display.
But the defeat will be further proof to any Republican who wants to hear that the former president’s outlook and reputation are toxic among constituencies at home and in 2024’s swing states. And it would suggest that the path forward for the party could be driven by true conservatives like Kemp, who are shying away from Trump.
It’s too early to write off Trump in 2024, given his magnetic hold on the Republican base and his strong influence over the incoming Republican majority in the House of Representatives. But if the former president’s political career is on a downward spiral, it’s safe to say it started in Georgia.
Georgia is the center of American politics
Georgia’s Senate runoff concludes two remarkable years in which the state has somewhat unexpectedly emerged as the nation’s most competitive battleground state.
If he wins, Warnock will get a full six-year term with relief after his fourth race (two general elections and two runoffs in two years) and give Democrats an expanded 51-49 majority in the Senate.
However, if Walker wins, Republicans will restore a dangerous 50-50 balance in the House, which for the past two years has been tilted in favor of Democrats only because of Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking votes.
Georgia’s political rise is emblematic of many of the forces that define American politics. He is part of a racially diverse nation that is stirring up the presidential map. He accused a Republican legislature of suppressing voting rights and voters who repeatedly showed up in large numbers to ensure that their voices were heard.
The state’s endangered racial history is a constant backdrop, particularly in the conflict between Warnock, the senior pastor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, and Walker, a hero to many in the state after his illustrious career in college football.
challenge to trump
Georgia has also become the epicenter of a rare Republican resistance to Trump’s effort to destroy American democracy.
In a call on January 2, 2021, Trump asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s victory. A transcript of the call shows Raffensperger repeatedly dismissing Trump’s wild fraud conspiracy theories. “Numbers are numbers, numbers don’t lie,” Raffensperger later told the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol.
In December 2020, the then-president also called on Kemp to pressure state lawmakers to overturn Biden’s victory in the state. But the governor said he did not have the authority to do so, sources told CNN.
In turn, Trump endorsed primary challengers against both men. He said his choice for secretary of state, Georgia Rep. Jody Haise, unlike the incumbent, “will stop the cheating.” The former president-endorsed candidate for Kemp’s job, former Sen. David Perdue, who lost to Democrat Jon Ossoff in the 2021 runoff, added to Trump’s election denial, declaring in a debate that “with him in the 2020 election Tampered with and stolen.”
But both of Trump’s picks performed disastrously in the primaries in a major embarrassment for the former president. Kemp defeated Perdue 74% to 22% and Raffensperger defeated Haise 52% to 33%. Both incumbents were re-elected in November.
Trump’s humiliation was becoming a pattern in Georgia. In the state’s 2020 general election, he became the first Republican to be defeated in the party’s former Southern stronghold since former President George Bush was conferred with it by Bill Clinton in 1992 on his way to the White House.
On the eve of the Senate runoff in January 2021, Trump returned to Georgia to campaign for then-Senator Kelly Loeffler and Purdue. He criticized Kemp and made false claims of voter fraud, adding to the longstanding doubts he had already sown about voting by mail among Republican voters during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both Republican senators were quickly defeated.
All of this helps explain why many observers have concluded that during the current runoff election, Trump has actually helped Warnock more than Walker.
In a CNN/SSRS poll released Friday, Trump scored only 39% favorable and 54% unfavorable among likely Georgia voters. (Biden’s approval rating was also underwater, which explains why he didn’t set foot in Georgia.)
Walker, however, insists that a strong turnout from Republicans this Tuesday could net him a victory.
“Before a big game, I don’t sleep because I’m ready,” he said during a final campaign stop in suburban Georgia. “It’s about participation. Now we have to get in the game. We can’t stay on the sidelines anymore.”