Frustrated Republicans are pointing fingers at President Donald Trump, blaming him for Sens. Kelly Loeffler’s defeat and the potential losing control of the Senate if Ossoff holds his lead over Sen. David Perdue in the state runoff election.
With the Senate majority at stake, Trump decided to spend weeks peddling baseless claims that Georgia’s electoral system was rigged, fueling an online movement to boycott Tuesday’s election. He demonized the state’s Republican leaders and fractured the local GOP and blasted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for not heeding his calls for boosted stimulus checks.
So when Senator-elect Raphael Warnock defeated Loeffler early on Wednesday — and with Democrat Jon Ossoff having a good chance of toppling Perdue — Republicans turned their ire on their leader, Politico reports.
“Trump is the cause of this, lock, stock and barrel,” said one Republican strategist. “But when you’re relying on someone to win you a Senate race that also lost statewide eight weeks prior, you’re not in a position of strength.”
“He is the Dems’ best base animator,” said one GOP strategist involved in the Georgia races, according to Politico. “Look at how high turnout was on their side compared to historical trends. Look at how much their candidates raised. He steps back after Election Day and denies them that oxygen. He didn’t.”
“I think the blame will be spread around, but a party chairman losing a presidential election and losing the Senate majority should, out of honor, offer her resignation even if the committee doesn’t accept it,” the Republican official said.
“Turns out if the leader of a party spends two months actively delegitimizing elections and saying voting doesn’t matter, voters listen,” said a Republican who worked on the runoff races. “There was one decisive factor in Georgia and anyone who says otherwise is probably sharing substances with Lin Wood.”
Josh Holmes, former chief of staff and campaign manager to McConnell, pointed out how poorly Trump’s message had played in the Georgia suburbs.
“Suburbs, my friends, the suburbs,” Holmes tweeted. “I feel like a one trick pony but here we are again. We went from talking about jobs and the economy to QAnon election conspiracies in 4 short years and – as it turns out- they were listening!”
Trump’s closest allies pointed the finger right back at McConnell, arguing his decision to block the Trump-backed $2,000 Covid stimulus checks doomed the Georgia candidates.
Behind the scenes, Georgia Republicans were also frustrated that Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son and one of the GOP’s most popular surrogates, backed out of appearances in the state on the Sunday before the election. Perdue personally asked for Trump to reconsider, but Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) stepped in instead.
In the end, Republicans appeared gobsmacked at the emerging results in two Senate races that most believed favored the GOP at the outset.
“This should not be close. This should not be a conversation for us at this point,” said former RNC chairman Michael Steele on MSNBC. “We should be going for beers right about now because the evening would have been over. And the reality of it is, it’s not, because of what this president has done to the Republican Party.”