Two days after a string of stinging losses in Pennsylvania, some Republicans in the state focused their anger on the man who has long been at the center of the party: Donald Trump.
“If anything has to be taken away from this election, it’s that we should rule Trump. said Matthew Brouillette, head of Commonwealth Partners, an influential conservative group in came.”
Philadelphia Republican operative Josh Novotny has criticized Trump within Republican circles after the GOP lost the gubernatorial and Senate marquee races, all three of the state’s competitive House elections, and possibly the state House. said to be widespread.
According to multiple Republican leaders, Trump’s presence continues to motivate Democrats, and his endorsement has increased the number of flawed candidates who match his personal interests.
Novotny said, “We hear that the very Trump part of the city and state that he’s an albatross, he’s hurting us, and he needs to go.” “We can’t win the race if he continues to be the party leader.”
Pennsylvania Party National Commissioner Andy Riley said Trump’s recent rally in Westmoreland County and hints that Trump would soon announce his second presidential run were unhelpful. .
“I think his presence helped Democrats make claims about threats to democracy,” Riley said, but claimed those claims were exaggerated. It wasn’t constructive.”
Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pennsylvania) put the party’s weak midterm election results at Trump’s feet Wednesday night, and his support will lead the party to nominate a candidate of his own type. said.
“I think this will probably accelerate the decline of his influence,” Toomey said in an interview Wednesday.
» READ MORE: Republican Pat Toomey Blames Donald Trump for GOP Election Failure in Pennsylvania
He was one of a dozen Republican lawmakers, strategists, or party leaders interviewed by The Inquirer for this article. While Trump maintains a passionate base of support, some feared his aggressive style was backlashing suburban swing voters.
Republican suburban approval ratings have plummeted since Trump’s 2016 run.
This isn’t the first time Republican elites have gnashed their teeth over Trump or declared him a declining force. Up until this point, they’ve always been proven wrong, often getting back together with former presidents.
But the chorus was much louder after the midterm elections, when Republicans felt they blew a big advantage, from high inflation to unpopular President Joe Biden. is mentioned. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has dominated re-election campaigns in key battleground states and is widely seen as the 2024 presidential candidate.
Nationwide, and especially in Pennsylvania, the attempt to drive Trump overboard comes at a difficult time. Trump has hinted that he could start his re-election campaign as early as next week. And Pennsylvania, which won in a surprise victory in 2016, remains a key battlefield and personal pride for the former president, who frequently returns for signature rallies. Only twice since September.
Trump’s endorsement this year gave Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz a sweeping victory in the Republican primary. He also endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, even after it became clear that Mastriano was likely to win. He promoted lies about the stolen 2020 election and paid for the bus fare to Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021.
Trump put himself in the spotlight when the Republican Party tried to hold the midterm elections on Biden.
“If he hadn’t been silent for six months, held no rallies, and hinted at running again, we would have easily overwhelmed the Senate and won the House by a much larger margin. Republican Speaker of York County, home of the Republican Party.
» Read more: Josh Shapiro and John Fetterman Helped Democrats Defy Republican Red Wave Hopes
Not only did Trump endorse a bad candidate, Piccola said, Trump undermined others by dropping verbal grenades at Bill McSwain, who was running for governor, and Senate rival Dave McCormick. I let
Trump continues to have huge support in red-hot rural places like Cumbria County, Republican Party chairman Jackie Cullback said.
But she said, “We’re a purple state, and I don’t think President Trump’s support in Cumbria County has declined at all, but when you go to the suburbs, he just doesn’t have the support he once had.” .”
Even former Congressman Lou Valletta, one of the first Republicans to endorse Trump in 2016, was critical.
“He sabotaged the primary here for no reason,” said Valletta. I was trying to present myself as a person from
Still, some Republicans have warned against ignoring the former president, who remains the party’s most popular figure. He argued that state parties should be held accountable for Republicans’ failure to rally around alternatives.
“Whether you like him or not, he shouldn’t be the scapegoat for everything that happens to the Republican Party,” said Bucks County avid Trump, who worked on the former president’s health and fitness council. Advocate Jim Worthington said.
He said it was an insider who failed the Republican vote and failed to answer the Democrat attack on abortion.
“Some of the elite within the party would absolutely despise him announcing a presidential run,” Worthington added. So you will love it.”
Rob Gleeson, who chaired the state party during Trump’s Pennsylvania victory, said Mastriano won nearly 42% of the vote in Pennsylvania despite a narrow campaign. .
“That’s the bottom of Donald Trump,” Gleason said. “And that’s a pretty hefty base.”
So even if insiders don’t like it, Trump’s enduring support could win the Republican primary.
“I don’t think this particular election is a referendum on the value of the president’s support,” said Washington County Republican Party Speaker Dave Ball.
He said Trump “probably spread the brand a little too much” by influencing so many races, but remains the leader of the Republican party. I don’t think there is yet.”
Westmoreland County Republican Party Speaker Bill Bretts pointed to the large crowd that gathered at Trump’s rally in his home county on Saturday.
“He’s obviously still the leader of the Republican Party,” Bretts said.
But for some Republicans, that’s the problem.
Riley, like Gleason, pointed out that Mastriano’s support is a benchmark for Trump. But while Gleason said this showed Trump’s strength in the primary, Riley said it also showed the limitations of a candidate who failed to build support.
“To win statewide, we need a candidate who can appeal to the center and across party bases,” Riley said. “I think the Democrats used him effectively to move swing voters in their direction.”