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GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Brian Kemp Holds Primary Night Election Event
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks during his primary night election party at the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame on May 24 in Atlanta.Joe Raedle / Getty Images, file

Team Trump eyes conspiracy theories following primary failures

It’s not just Democratic victories: Donald Trump also sees Republican victories as suspect — if he considers them the wrong kind of Republican.


Six months ago, Doug Heye wrote a Washington Post op-ed that didn’t cause much of a stir at the time, but which continues to be relevant. Heye, a former Republican National Committee communications director and a former aide to then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, effectively delivered a warning to his party about its election conspiracy theories.

As Heye saw it, Republicans seemed unaware of an inconvenient fact: The GOP’s outlandish post-2020 “voter fraud” allegations could very easily be applied to Republican primaries in 2022.

The op-ed came to mind this morning for a reason. The Daily Beast reported:

Donald Trump’s Save America PAC sent out an email blast Tuesday morning pushing bizarre claims Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s landslide win for the Republican nomination for governor was the result of voter fraud.... Under the heading, “ICYMI: Something Stinks in Georgia,” the Save America PAC linked to a five-day old article of the same name penned by journalist Emerald Robinson. The article, which argued that Kemp’s victory was “suspect” because a Trump endorsement is “the single most powerful force in the universe of American politics,” speculated that “obvious fraud” had rigged the election results.

Oh my.

It’s no secret that the former president, desperate to punish the Georgia governor for failing to go along with his coup scheme in 2020, went all out to defeat Kemp. Trump failed spectacularly: The incumbent governor won by roughly 52 points, humiliating former Sen. David Perdue who ran a ridiculous campaign based on little more than Trump’s discredited lies.

It was the third time in three weeks that a Trump-backed gubernatorial candidate lost in a Republican primary.

A sensible response would be for the former president and his operation to take stock, consider what went wrong, and adjust accordingly. After all, Georgia wasn't exactly a nail-biter: Imagined "fraud" can't explain away a blowout loss.

What Team Trump is instead doing is promoting a conspiracy theory about “obvious fraud“ despite the fact that there’s literally no evidence of fraud.

What's more, it’s not just Georgia. Let’s not forget that it was two weeks ago today when Pennsylvania Republicans voted in their U.S. Senate primary. As vote tallies came in, and it was unclear whether Mehmet Oz had defeated hedge fund executive David McCormick, the former president told the celebrity doctor to simply declare victory anyway.

As we’ve discussed, Trump’s rationale was rooted in — what else? — the prospect of conspiratorial election mischief.

“Dr. Oz should declare victory,” the former president wrote on his social media platform. “It makes it much harder for them to cheat with the ballots that they ‘just happened to find.’”

Trump did not elaborate as to who’s included in “them.” The public was apparently supposed to believe, however, that there were nefarious forces out there engaged in ... something nefarious.

Making matters considerably worse, the former president published another missive soon after, which read in part, “Stop FINDING VOTES in PENNSYLVANIA. RIGGED?”

There was literally nothing to suggest any improprieties with Pennsylvania’s primary, the results, or the way in which the votes were tallied. But the former president, a year and a half after trying to overturn the results of his own defeat, took deliberate steps to discredit and undermine public confidence in yet another process.

And as of this morning, Team Trump is doing it once again.

The conventional wisdom holds that Trump too often takes the position that any Democratic victory is, practically by definition, an illegitimate outcome. But we’re occasionally reminded that he has similar ideas about Republican victories if he considers them the wrong kind of Republican.