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Trump’s collapse has GOP worried he’ll drag down party, sabotage Georgia Senate runoff

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Former President Trump, who is expected to announce a third bid for the White House on Tuesday, unleashed a series of attacks on future GOP stars and conservative media, casting a cloud over Republicans trying to unify the party ahead of a critical Senate runoff in Georgia .

Less than 1 percentage point separates Republican challenger Herschel Walker and Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock in the Georgia Senate race. The winner could determine the majority in the Senate, which is poised to make the Dec. 6 runoff the most important election of the year for the Republican Party.

Mr. Trump could ruin it for the Republican Party, some conservatives say. He could energize Democrats and keep disgruntled Republicans on the sidelines in a January 2021 rerun, when his anger over the 2020 presidential election and attempts to overturn the results in some states have been blamed for reducing GOP turnout and helping Democrats pick up two Senate seats in Georgia. special election — giving Democrats control of the House.

“He could encourage more Democrats to vote and scare independents,” said analyst Ron Fauche. “In a close election, this could hurt Walker.”

Mr Trump, meanwhile, is tearing up the party by attacking GOP rising stars he sees as possible rivals for his planned 2024 political comeback.

The former president plans to make a “special announcement” from his Mar-a-Lago estate on Tuesday, three weeks before the runoff, and is expected to launch his 2024 White House bid.

The move will only shine a spotlight on Mr Trump ahead of a key election in Georgia and comes after the former president launched two unprovoked attacks on Republican governors. Florida’s Ron DeSantis and Virginia’s Glenn Youngkin, who the GOP increasingly sees as the future of the party.

Mr. Trump, in a lengthy statement, accused Mr. DeSantis, whom he dubbed “Ron Desanctimonious,” of disloyalty by refusing to pledge that he would not run for president in 2024.

Mr Trump credited himself with saving Mr DeSantis with an endorsement in 2018, saying Mr DeSantis was “politically dead” before the endorsement. The former president also claimed he directed the FBI to stop vote counting in Florida to help Mr. DeSantis narrowly win his first term.

In a separate statement, Mr Trump said Mr Youngqin “couldn’t have won without me” and that Mr Youngqin’s name “sounds Chinese”.

“Young Keane (that’s an interesting thought. Sounds Chinese, right?) in Virginia could not have won without me,” Mr Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform. “But he knows it and admits it.”

Mr. Trump also attacked Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post for “going overboard with Governor Ron Desanctimonius, a regular REPUBLICAN governor with excellent public relations.” He said Mr. DeSantis shut down businesses during the Covid pandemic, even as he continued to keep the state open.

One Republican strategist said the attacks were damaging to Mr. Trump.

“The more Trump lashes out at his GOP colleagues, the more it pushes voters away from the former president,” the GOP strategist said. “His strategy is not working and is backfiring.”

Mr. Trump could alienate Republicans with his attacks while damaging his own political future by announcing his presidential candidacy ahead of the Georgia primary, said Peach State sociologist Matt Towery.

“Trump’s announcement at this point, in the middle of a runoff election in Georgia, is very risky,” Mr. Towery said. “After analyzing the general election, I now believe Walker is starting with a 2- to 3-point deficit. But most expect him to be ahead. If Trump announces and Walker fails, it will be blamed on Trump and it will add to the current narrative that he is to blame for the lack of a red wave.”

Mr. Towery said Tuesday’s GOP losses were caused by a “complex set of factors.”

But Mr Trump’s election ahead of the runoff will lead to more finger-pointing in his direction. Several of his top endorsements lost Tuesday, including New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Don Bolduc and Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz.

“I don’t think it’s in Trump’s best interest to rush into the announcement and let the media say that Georgia is a referendum on him,” Mr. Towery said.

Republican strategists have been reluctant to speak publicly about Mr. Trump’s announcement and whether it was welcomed by the GOP establishment.

Some say the former president should avoid a runoff, even though Mr. Walker is one of his biggest supporters in the 2022 election cycle.

“When Trump ran for the Georgia Senate two years ago, it was a disaster. So it would probably be a good idea for him to stay out of the state entirely,” said one Republican strategist.

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