It wasn’t a good day Tuesday night for Republicans who failed to associate themselves with President Trump.
Trump critic Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina learned that the hard way when he lost his primary to pro-Trump Katie Arrington.
The president, finally able to turn his attention to politics after the Singapore summit, weighed in with a last minute tweet before the polls closed that may well have spelled Sanford’s doom.
Mark Sanford has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA. He is MIA and nothing but trouble. He is better off in Argentina. I fully endorse Katie Arrington for Congress in SC, a state I love. She is tough on crime and will continue our fight to lower taxes. VOTE Katie!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2018
And then afterward:
My political representatives didn’t want me to get involved in the Mark Sanford primary thinking that Sanford would easily win – but with a few hours left I felt that Katie was such a good candidate, and Sanford was so bad, I had to give it a shot. Congrats to Katie Arrington!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2018
As James Antle notes in the Washington Examiner, Sanford follows in the footsteps of other Republicans who crossed Trump, like Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who didn’t even bother trying to win their primaries.
Meantime, in Viriginia, implacablly pro-Trump Corey Stewart won the GOP nod to oppose Sen. Tim Kaine.
According to Antle:
Recent Republican primaries have demonstrated Trump’s power over the party. Corey Stewart won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Virginia over the strenuous objections of many in the party — his less prominent main challenger did come within less than 2 points of the upset — in no small part because he embraced Trump . . .
Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., was forced into a runoff by a recent former Democratic congressman who voted for Barack Obama for president and Nancy Pelosi for speaker. Why? Because Roby was deemed insufficiently loyal to Trump.
The most prominent example was when Trump exhorted West Virginia Republicans to remember Alabama and nominate someone other than Don Blankenship, who had recently done time over a deadly mining accident and was producing racist television commercials, to run against vulnerable Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
In these cases, Trump is aligned with leadership on the outcome of the primary. The voters simply won’t listen to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., or any other leader besides Trump.
The bolding is mine. Antle goes on to say Trump’s domination of the party “won’t necessarily last forever.”
That’s certainly true. At the very least, some kind of coherent pro-Trump faction with a guiding ideology must be created to ensure what Trump stands for outlasts Trump. Otherwise, once he’s gone, the Mitch McConnells, the Chamber of Commerces, and the Bushes of the world – all the “adults” – will simply clean the house up from what they think is a one-night keg party thrown by the “children” and make everything just as it was.