Dem 51
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Republican Parties in Three Swing States Are Consumed with Infighting

The state parties play a huge role in getting candidates elected. They help pick candidates, train them, raise money for them, provide them with election material, and organize GOTV (get out the vote) drives. In practice, they are far more important to winning elections than the DNC and RNC, which don't really do much besides fundraising.

Unfortunately for the Republicans, in no fewer than three key swing states, the state Republican Party is in turmoil, with Trumpy Republicans fighting non-Trumpy Republicans tooth and nail for control. With the election season nigh, these battles could distract them from their core business of winning elections.

Michigan is probably the worst. Kristina Karamo, a failed secretary of state candidate and far-right Trumpist with a master's degree from the Talbot School of Theology in Christian Apologetics, got herself elected chair of the Michigan Republican Party. She ran the state party into the ground and saddled it up with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. Despite her degree, she didn't apologize to anyone. Eventually, the state Republican Committee fired her but she refused to go. The RNC eventually stepped in and appointed Pete Hoekstra as the new chairman. Still, Karamo didn't apologize and didn't go.

The Michigan delegate allocation plan calls for the state primary allocating 16 delegates and a state convention allocating 39 more delegates. Karamo is planning to run her own convention on March 2, in direct competition with the official convention the same day. This could lead to a credentials fight at the national convention. Since she is much Trumpier than Hoekstra, Donald Trump might side with her, generating lots of negative press at the start of the convention. Internal warfare is hardly the way to carry the state for Trump and win a key open-seat Senate race, but Karamo shows no signs of giving up.

A similar battle is going on in Arizona, a state that is turning purple, with the governor, secretary of state, AG, and both senators elected as Democrats. The state GOP chair, Jeff DeWit, resigned 3 weeks ago after pretend-governor Kari Lake released an audio recording of him trying to bribe her to get out of the Senate race. She promised to release even more recordings if he didn't resign. He resigned. DeWit was only moderately Trumpy, but he has been replaced by Gina Swoboda, who is very Trumpy. Her elevation makes election denial a key plank of the state party now. Kari Lake is probably going to be the Senate nominee and she is a fire-breathing Trumpist. This is not a good place to be in a state that has a growing Latino population and that is moving from being the state of Barry Goldwater and John McCain to being a state where Democrats are now winning statewide elections regularly.

Georgia is the third state where Republicans are fighting other Republicans. Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) are not election deniers and do not take their marching orders from Trump. The party chairman, Josh McKoon, is a strong Trumper. This has led Kemp to try to redirect funds from the official state party to a shadow party under his control. At an official state party meeting recently, Trump showed up to lambast Fani Willis but Kemp didn't even show up. Having the governor give the state party a cold shoulder is generally not a good sign.

One thing that could become an issue is the choice of presidential electors. In these states, and some others, the state parties pick the slate of electors. Given the shenanigans in 2020, it is certainly possible that Trumpy electors will send their electoral votes to the National Archives and the Senate, even if Trump loses the state. Then we could get battles and votes in Congress to decide which slate to accept. If Republicans control either or both chambers, they could vote to accept the slate of Trump electors, even if Trump lost the state. At that point we would be in deep doo-doo.

Another issue could be court challenges to the election results. The state parties generally have standing on election lawsuits, so it matters who controls the state parties.

In addition, the state parties often play a big role in selecting candidates for down-ballot races. State parties controlled by Trumpists are increasingly making a belief that Trump won in 2020 a requirement to be chosen. Having the state parties picking inexperienced election deniers who want to campaign on refighting the 2020 election is simply a great boon for the Democrats. Maybe these state parties and others will eventually get over their internal backbiting and focus on winning elections, but it is far from certain. (V)

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