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Report: Trump may announce presidential run early to keep issue of election fraud front and center

I hope he does. Having the midterm campaign turn into a relentless sh*tshow about Trump’s conspiracy theories instead of Biden’s failures is exactly the karma the GOP establishment deserves for having enabled his “stop the steal” nonsense.

Former President Donald Trump’s yearlong campaign falsely claiming he won the 2020 election and demanding redress is turning voter fraud into a litmus test for Republicans seeking office as the party seeks to reclaim the House and Senate in 2022.

Mr. Trump has told advisers the issue will help the party win control of Congress next year and win back the White House in 2024. He has privately floated the possibility of an early presidential campaign announcement to underscore the message to conservative voters…

In private conversations, [Trump] has said Mr. Gore was wrong to concede the race in 2000, people familiar with the remarks said. He has also told allies that his polling shows voter fraud motivates his base and argued that an announcement sometime next year that he would run for president would boost Republican turnout for the midterms, people familiar with the conversations said.

Fellow Republicans have dissuaded him from that strategy for now, the people said.

Imagine being Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, carefully setting the stage to run on Democrats’ various policy fiascos in 2022, only to have Trump bust through the wall like Kool-Aid Man ranting about ballot drops in the middle of the night on Election Day 2020. I wrote earlier today about how badly Dems failed at convincing Virginia voters that Glenn Youngkin was Trump with better hair, but that’s partly because (a) Trump himself was out of sight and out of mind in VA and (b) Youngkin was able to largely avoid the topic of the 2020 election beyond uttering some bland niceties about how all state elections should be audited to make sure the results were accurate. Once Trump announces he’s running for president again and starts barnstorming on his “I wuz robbed” message, that changes. He’ll effectively be on the ballot for Dems in 2022, giving them a reason to turn out after all. And GOP candidates won’t be able to duck an awkward subject like 2020 as easily as Youngkin did with Trump hammering at it every day as a presidential candidate.

It’s a gift to Democrats, especially since the massive turnout for Youngkin in Virginia and for Jack Ciattarelli in New Jersey proves that motivating Republicans to vote isn’t a problem in need of a solution. Even if Trump’s right that “stop the steal” propaganda boosts enthusiasm among MAGA fans, their enthusiasm is already ultra-boosted. Remember, Youngkin did better in some rural Virginia counties than Trump himself did last year. At a moment when the GOP enjoys an unprecedented lead on the generic ballot, their strategy should be to avoid giving Democrats any incentive to vote and to convince wary suburban voters, as Youngkin did, that they’re still a normal business-friendly conservative party at heart. Trump’s entry into the campaign would blow that up. And everyone knows it, probably him included.

But he doesn’t care. Because, as usual, ventilating his own personal grudges is more important to him than the success of the party. The idea that he’d be doing the GOP some sort of strategic favor by talking about election-rigging is his self-serving pretend-altruistic justification for doing the thing he wants to do anyway.

I mean, do you think Mark Brnovich, the GOP’s best hope of unseating Mark Kelly in Arizona’s Senate race next year, is helped or hurt by Trump statements like this?

Whatever happened to the Rigged and Stolen Arizona Presidential Election that is being investigated, or maybe the words should properly be “looked at,” by Attorney General Mark Brnovich? When will the legislature vote to decertify? People are very upset in Arizona that it is all taking so long, especially when the findings of the State Senate’s Forensic Audit were so conclusive, not even including the recent revelation of 35,000 fictitious votes in Pima County, and precincts with over 100 percent turnout (how do you like that one?). The people of Arizona are anxiously awaiting the decision of the Attorney General. They know what really went on during that Election!

Actually, the GOP’s best hope of unseating Kelly is Gov. Doug Ducey. Or it was Ducey, until he refused to overturn his state’s 2020 results amid Trump’s insane whining. Now he’s unelectable in Arizona. Give it a few months and Brnovich will end up that way too.

Forcing Republican candidates to endorse his conspiracy theories or risk losing their careers is a vivid example of Trump putting his own interests above the GOP’s but not the only example in the news today. Attorneys for the RNC are wondering why their organization just spent $121,000 on Trump’s personal legal bills instead of spending it on trying to win elections. Can’t he afford to pay those bills himself? He’s a billionaire, or so he says, and he’s raised more than $100 million this year via his own PAC. One member of the RNC thinks diverting funds to pay Trump’s lawyers may have cost the party in the surprisingly close New Jersey gubernatorial race:

Bill Palatucci, a national committeeman from New Jersey, said the fact that the RNC made the payments to Trump’s attorneys in October was particularly frustrating given his own plea to party officials that same month for additional resources as the New Jersey GOP sought to push Republican Jack Ciattarelli over the finish line in his challenge to incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy.

“We sure as heck could have used $121,000,” Palatucci told CNN…

A third RNC official described the relationship between Trump and the national party as “a hostage situation,” claiming that Trump could devastate the GOP if he decided to leave the party or encouraged his supporters to stop contributing to it at any point, including if the RNC no longer agrees to cover portions of his legal bills.

That’s how it’s been since the moment he first topped the GOP primary polls in 2015. Brnovich, the RNC, other GOP candidates — they’re all hostages, forced to either comply with his demands or be professionally executed by losing the support of Trump’s cultish base. Last week I wrote that the party is currently split into three groups, the MAGA fans, the negligible Never Trumpers, and the huge chunk of voters who might best be described as “Never Democrats.” They don’t worship Trump like the MAGAs do; many of them don’t even like him. But because they can’t or won’t muster the nerve to issue the sort of ultimatum that MAGAs routinely do — “if you cross us, we’ll stay home” — they’re Trump’s ultimate enablers. All it would take to end the hostage crisis is for the Never Democrats to tell the party that they won’t vote Republican if Trump is the nominee in 2024, that some mutually agreeable compromise choice will need to be made. But to follow through on that, they’d have to carry out their threat to stay home in 2024 if their bluff is called. Which would mean letting a Democrat get elected. Which is, uh, not something that a “Never Democrat” will ever condone.

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