The GOP Desperately Needs a Course Correction — Will It Happen in Georgia?

AP Photo/Ben Gray

The Republicans have a lot riding on the runoff race in Georgia between Herschel Walker and Raphael Warnock. Yes, it may well decide which party controls the Senate — keep on counting those ballots, Arizona and Nevada! — but, based on who shows up to campaign with Walker, it will also show which way the GOP is headed.

The days since the election have been brutal for Republicans, with various factions digging in and fixing for a fight over the future of the party. It reads like a political cage match: Kevin McCarthy vs. the House Freedom Caucus. Marco Rubio vs. Mitch McConnell. Trump vs. DeSantis. Trump vs. Glenn Youngkin. Trump vs. Absolutely Everyone.

So, while Arizona and Nevada process ballots at a criminally slow pace — and D.C. speculates who, if anyone, will emerge as the GOP’s new leaders — the real action may well be in Georgia. The elephant in the room, of course, is Donald Trump, who seems hellbent on picking fights just to get headlines. With the December 6 runoff election looming, many question the wisdom of sending Trump to Georgia to stump for Walker.

Indeed, it makes the most sense for those politicians and surrogates who have the wind at their backs to barnstorm across the Peach State to help Walker secure the much-needed seat for the GOP. Trump does not have that kind of momentum right now, but, much to Trump’s apparent consternation, Ron DeSantis does. DeSantis delivered the Democrats such a sound electoral thrashing this past Tuesday that the faint sound of teeth gnashing is still hanging over Miami-Dade County.

Winners beget winners. The GOP needs to send in its all-stars, not those whose names are associated with the party’s old guard (paging Mitch McConnell).

Republicans have already started showing up in Georgia to lend their support to Walker. Ted Cruz was there Friday.

Newly reelected Georgia governor Brian Kemp has pledged his support and will rally with Walker. Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin has offered to head down I-95 to help. DeSantis is a given, with his soaring popularity and his state’s proximity to Georgia.

Notice the names — DeSantis, Kemp, Youngkin. These are the names associated with the future of the GOP. Proven winners who don’t carry the baggage of a Trump or haven’t spent decades in D.C. without much to show for it.

Trump, of course, wants to be a king maker. He certainly didn’t achieve that in the midterm elections, and the timing of his presumed reelection announcement next week makes it clear that he is his own priority right now. He should stay well clear of campaigning with Herschel Walker.

Perhaps the best reason of all for Trump not to go to Georgia can be found in his own words:

“I don’t do rallies for other people,” Mr. Trump said during a rally in Dalton, Ga., on Jan. 4, 2021, the eve of the runoff election. “I do them for me.”

With that in mind, Georgia is the battleground where the future of the Republican Party will be decided. A win, or even a strong showing, for Walker, with the support of the GOP’s new guard, will show the party has a strong, new and exciting face. There is still time for the old guard to get out of the way and let the party’s course correction begin … and it should begin, right now, in Georgia.

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