Donald Trump is not unaware that his attacks on Republican officeholders in Georgia are splitting the party down the middle. In fact, he’s counting on it.
Trump is already itching to get back at Joe Biden by running for president again in 2024. The few times that he’s deviated from his standard narrative that the election was stolen and that once all the evidence is in, he will be acclaimed winner, he’s made it clear that he’s running again.
As his legal options dwindle, we can expect Trump to lash out more viciously at Georgia Republicans. Does that mean that Trump wants the Democrats to win and take over the Senate?
Trump has expressed regret about endorsing Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and has lashed out at Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, both Republicans who have refused to sow doubts about election results showing Democratic President-elect Joe Biden won their states by small margins. Trump carried both states in 2016.
“Why is he rushing to put a Democrat in office?” Trump demanded as Ducey discussed the swearing-in of newly elected Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly. “Especially when so many horrible things concerning voter fraud are being revealed at the hearing going on right now.”
Trump is going to continue with his fraud narrative until he gets what he wants: a Democratic Senate.
“There’s unquestionably real risk that he’s going to depress turnout in Georgia,” said Brendan Buck, who served as a top adviser to House Speaker Paul Ryan. “The question is how much, but these races are going to be close enough that it could potentially cost us the majority. You can only tell people elections don’t work for so long until they stop participating. It’s too early to say whether this will have any long-term consequences on GOP voter turnout, but it’s only one party’s voters who are being told not to trust the system. It’s completely self-defeating.”
Why would Trump want to sabotage the Republican Party? Total Democratic dominance in Washington would be bad for Republicans but good for Trump. With Trump alone on the national stage, the nomination in 2024 will fall into his lap. He already has a leg up in the race, outpolling any potential challengers 2-1, including Vice President Pence.
With no national platform, other Republicans would be left in the cold while a single tweet from Trump could severely damage their chances. As for the party, Trump ally Ronna McDaniel is running for another term as RNC chair and could conveniently place landmines in front of any other candidate who might prove a serious threat to Trump.
Trump will be in Georgia this weekend to attend rallies for Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, where it is expected he will continue to bash Republican elected officials for not doing his bidding. He will also continue to advance the narrative that the election was rigged.
“A very important election that’s coming up will determine whether or not we hold the Senate,” he said Wednesday. “David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are two tremendous people.” But he added that “in Georgia, they’re using the same horrible Dominion system” he blames for tipping key states against him.
Perhaps he won’t divide the party as much as simply depressing the turnout of Republicans. The effect will be the same — a Democratic takeover of the Senate. Trump will claim he did everything he could, making appearances for the candidates and endorsing them. But Trump isn’t really interested in Georgia or the Senate. He’s playing the long game and looking at 2024 for redemption.