Former President Donald Trump chalked up some victories in Tuesday’s primaries, but he suffered a trio of defeats where it most mattered: Georgia, epicenter of Trump’s efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. Three Republicans on whom Trump had declared war for refusing to do his vote-fixing dirty work — Gov. Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Attorney General Chris Carr — all cruised to victory, trouncing Trump-backed challengers who had endorsed Trump’s election fraud lies.
Given the heavy emphasis that Trump’s ploys played in these campaigns, Georgia Republicans have spoken loud and clear about their abhorrence of election manipulation. They have done Republicans elsewhere a huge favor by showing them it’s OK to stand up for what’s right while still being loyal to the party.
Trump narrowly lost Georgia to Biden in November 2020. His subsequent efforts to get Georgia’s Republican leaders to overturn the results was in itself justification for impeachment and, arguably, criminal charges. Most infamously, Trump — then a sitting president, remember — personally called Raffensperger, Georgia’s top election official and a member of the president’s party, to pressure him into committing fraud.
“All I want to do is this,” Trump told Raffensperger in the recorded call: “I just want to find 11,780 votes,” one more than Biden’s margin of victory in the state. “There’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, that you’ve recalculated.” This was a blatant attempted overthrow of democracy, and Raffensperger’s refusal to yield should make him a political hero to both parties.
But Trump, of course, villainized him for it and backed one of his challengers, U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, who was among House members who objected to the valid election results on Jan. 6, 2021, and who backed Trump’s lies. Raffensperger on Tuesday beat Hice by almost 20 percentage points.
Kemp won an even wider margin over former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, another backer of Trump’s lies who garnered Trump’s support for it. Ditto with Carr, who easily beat back a challenge from Trump-backed attorney John Gordon, whose campaign was almost entirely about promoting Trumpian conspiracy theories.
There is a dark lining to this silver cloud. An analysis by The Washington Post found that in most primary races around the country, Trump-backed candidates took around 30% of the vote — which, in crowded fields like Ohio’s U.S. Senate primary, was enough to get Trump-backer J.D. Vance the nomination.
That math could be ominous in Missouri, where the U.S. Senate primaries in August will feature more than 20 Republicans. Among them is disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens, who hasn’t yet garnered Trump’s formal endorsement but whose ties to Trump World and his eager promotion of its lies make such an endorsement possible.
Georgia’s experience should spur Missouri Republicans of conscience to coalesce around a serious candidate — including a conservative independent — who is courageous enough to reject those lies.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Board. Visit STLtoday.com