Wounded Bear.

Last night’s Southern slate of primaries demonstrated that where there’s a Republican will to take on former President Trump, there’s a way to win. In Georgia and Alabama, Republicans nominated or advanced mainstream candidates in nearly every contested race, including a resounding landslide victory from Gov. Brian Kemp and a come-from-behind upset from Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Trump-endorsed candidates who denied the results of the 2020 election were embarrassed. Former Sen. David Perdue, one of the very few Republican candidates to receive millions from Trump’s campaign organization, won a measly 22 percent of the vote in Georgia against the sitting governor. Rep. Jody Hice, Trump’s handpicked candidate for Secretary of State who amplified conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, lagged behind Raffensperger by 19 points and will be out of office come November. Trump’s candidate for Georgia Attorney General, John Gordon, won just about one-quarter of the GOP vote. Even his picks for wide-open House races lagged behind the competition: Vernon Jones, the self-proclaimed “Black Donald Trump,” finished second in Georgia’s 10th District primary and is headed to a runoff against Republican Mike Collins. Physician Rich McCormick held a two-to-one edge over his Trump-endorsed rival Jake Evans; that contest is also headed to a June runoff.

Trump’s one victory came in the Georgia Senate race, where his favored candidate Herschel Walker sailed to an easy primary victory over several lesser-known challengers. But establishment Republicans also ended up rallying behind Walker, making it an imperfect case study of Trump’s power within the party.

Trump’s handicap is that he is obsessed with one issue — that he was cheated by Joe Biden of his rightful election victory in 2020. Most Republican voters share in that belief, which is a litmus test for candidates. Yet the stolen election myth is their politics’ starting point, not its be-all and end-all. By confining himself to rigged elections, Trump is forgetting MAGA’s animating spirit, which is hatred of America’s cultural elites.

When Trump’s monomania backfires, it leaves him looking weak. His sole reason for endorsing David Perdue as Georgia’s Republican gubernatorial candidate was that he agreed the incumbent, Brian Kemp, was wrong to certify Biden’s victory in 2020. Backing Perdue was Trump’s revenge for Kemp’s disloyalty. But Kemp will win easily. It is even possible that Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, who resisted Trump’s direct plea to “find” his missing votes, will also be re-elected. (Ed Note: He wasn’t re-elected, but he did win the GOP nomination with more than 50 percent of the vote, thus precluding a run-off primary)

The more this happens, the less fear Trump will instill in his party. Once a strongman loses the ability to terrorize, a loss of respect is rarely far behind. Kemp’s selling point was that he fed MAGA’s cultural agenda. He has made it far harder for Georgians to get an abortion, much easier to carry concealed guns and more difficult to vote, which is red meat to the base. Kemp’s only sin is in not catering to Trump’s injured pride, which can evidently be ignored. (Ed. Note: italics mine)

On Jan. 10, Mr. McCarthy spoke again with the leadership team.

When Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming asked about the chances Mr. Trump might resign, Mr. McCarthy said he was doubtful, but he had a plan.

The Democrats were driving hard at an impeachment resolution, Mr. McCarthy said, and they would have the votes to pass it. Now he planned to call Mr. Trump and tell him it was time for him to go.

Mr. McCarthy said he would tell Mr. Trump of the impeachment resolution: “I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign,” he said, according to the recording of the call, which runs just over an hour. The Times has reviewed the full recording of the conversation.

He acknowledged it was unlikely Mr. Trump would follow that suggestion.

“What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend that and nobody should defend it,” he told the group.

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