NEW YORK (AP). Since the day he walked down the golden escalator and announced his candidacy for the presidency, Republicans have not been able to decide how to deal with Donald Trump.
But after Glenn Youngkin’s stunning victory in the race for governors of Virginia – President Joe Biden won 10 percentage points last year – and the GOP’s strong performance in dark blue New Jersey, party leaders believe they have a model that can bring them great wins. in the midterm elections next year.
By engaging in culture wars on issues such as school curricula, the GOP can revitalize Trump’s loyal base. But party leaders believe this week’s results demonstrate they can also bring back suburbanites who abandoned the GOP in the Trump era by talking about local issues like taxes and keeping the former president at bay.
“It’s clear that Yangkin’s victory has been a boost for the Republicans and gives us momentum next year,” said Asa Hutchinson, Republican Governor of Arkansas, who does not rule out the possibility of running for president in 2024. the governor of New Jersey, “showed that a Republican in this environment, talking about state problems, talking about education, talking about the future, can even win suburban votes and can win the middle.”
When Tuesday’s vote was clear, the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is focused on regaining control of the House of Representatives, named 13 more Democratic seats it hoped to turn over. Meanwhile, the National Republican Senatorial Committee noted that next year’s map is heavily focused on swing states like Pennsylvania, Arizona and Georgia, which Biden won by a much smaller margin than Virginia and New Jersey.
Elsewhere, where Democrats oversaw Senate seats, such as North Carolina and Florida, Trump stepped over in 2020.
“This completely changes the dynamics of the map,” said NRSC spokesman Chris Hartline.
The results have emboldened some of Trump’s critics, such as Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican who has embraced his own blue state and has long emphasized the party’s need to bring back wavering voters and moderates that Trump has pushed aside.
“This is how we’re going to win,” Hogan said. “This is a great roadmap. You can’t redouble your efforts if you fail, “he said, arguing that voters” want to hear what you do for them, not for Trump. “
Of course, it remains unclear mid-term whether Republicans will nominate candidates with the same attractiveness as Yangkin.
Many GOP primary contests, from Ohio to North Carolina, have been dominated by challengers who have tried to outsmart Trump each other, including repeating his lies about the stolen elections. And the former president has raced to crown candidates who have faced serious charges as he sought revenge on those who crossed him by voting to impeach him or opposing his efforts to cancel the 2020 elections.
One example is Sean Parnell, who is running for the Pennsylvania Senate with Trump’s backing. Parnell’s estranged wife testified under oath this week that she had endured years of rage and abuse at his side, including being strangled until she had to bite him, the newspaper said. Parnell vehemently denied her allegations.
And while Jack Chiattarelli, the Republican nominee for governor of New Jersey, who lost almost immediately, clearly broke with Trump, Youngkin did not. Instead, the Virginia Republican has cleverly dealt with the former president by persuading him to stay out of the state while maintaining his support.
Trump supported and praised Yangkin in the final stretch of the race, but his campaign participation was limited, including holding a “telemetry” ahead of the election in which he spoke for less than 10 minutes. Still, Trump’s allies made it clear to his supporters that there was minimal daylight between the two people when it came to matters.
John Fredericks, who led Trump’s statewide campaign in 2016 and 2020, hosted Trump on his radio show, and former Trump strategist Steve Bannon showed up at the rally to signal the good faith of Yangkin’s MAGA. One GOP strategist noted that Trump had developed a system of code words – like America First – that candidates like Yangkin could use as a means of signaling Trump’s base that he was speaking their language.
Meanwhile, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe flooded the airwaves with advertisements portraying Yangkin as Trump’s aide, reminding Republicans that he was one of them.
“Thank you Terry McAuliffe for spending the money helping me get a huge number of votes,” said Fredericks. “He got our vote. We didn’t need to. “
Aside from Trump, Youngkin raised a set of issues that appealed to both rural voters in deeply republican areas of southwest Virginia and those in the suburbs who agreed with Trump on economics and other kitchen table issues but were pushed away by his tone. In commercials, he portrayed himself as a good-natured suburban dad wearing a sweater vest that his parents would love.
In particular, he seized on the disappointment of parents, many of whom were outraged by the refusal of their children’s schools to resume private lessons during the pandemic, as well as subsequent bans and attendance policies.
But by pledging to increase teachers’ salaries and school budgets, Yangkin also did not shy away from the culture war issues that Trump announced in an attempt to portray Democrats outside the mainstream.
Youngkin sounded the alarm about transgender rights and critical racial theory, an academic framework that is based on the idea that racism is systemic in national institutions and that they act to maintain white dominance. In recent months, it has become the universal political word for any teaching in schools about race and American history. Moreover, he went so far as to run an ad in which a mother expresses her outrage that her child was commissioned to read Beloved, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Toni Morrison.
Fredericks attributed Yangkin’s victory to Trump, insisting that a Republican would not have won without Trump’s base.
“Glenn Youngkin did nothing but support our mainstream politics and voters from day one. So he did nothing to push us away, ”he said. “He created a very simple coalition: Trump voters and angry parents.”
Trump predictably agreed.
“Without this movement, this race would not even be close,” he said on Fredericks’ radio show on Wednesday.