Whether it’s clashing over the results of the 2020 election, the violent insurrection on January 6th or pushing false conspiracies, the GOP’s bitter internal feud is just getting started after Trump left office — and the RGA and its Chair Doug Ducey are caught in the middle of the Republican party’s nasty infighting.
The “ex-president is still so bothered by Ducey’s refusal to try to throw out Democratic votes in Arizona that he’s told associates he would gladly and personally spoil any of Ducey’s future political plans,” according to one report, which adds that Trump is “hoping to make the Arizona governor a pariah in his own party.”
But while Doug Ducey is trapped in a public conflict with Trump, many of his fellow Republican governors are sticking with the former president and his conspiracies. At the same time, GOP primaries continue to be divisive Trump loyalty tests and contests to take extreme, unpopular positions. In Georgia, Trump has even encouraged a nasty Republican primary against sitting GOP incumbent Brian Kemp.
With 36 governors' races in 2022, including many in key states where Republicans will be on defense in states Trump lost, questions are growing: where does the RGA stand?
And how can the RGA and its chair Doug Ducey work with Republican governors and candidates to stop the bleeding in gubernatorial elections when they are at war with each other?
Stay tuned for updates as we continue to highlight how the RGA’s rocky relationship with their own Republican governors and candidates is only going to get worse.
It's been a rough week for the RGA. In a span of a few hours, the organization lost one of their incumbents to their own chaos and infighting, and Donald Trump took his ongoing war against Republican governors to a whole new level.
Facing an inevitable brutal primary battle against a Trump-endorsed challenger, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced he’s jumping ship, and won’t run for reelection — despite the RGA’s best efforts to make him stay by hyping him up in social media videos and at their private conference.
While Baker is the first GOP incumbent to bite the dust, it’s unlikely he’ll be the last, given the RGA’s failure to protect its incumbent Republican governors across the country. 11 out of 15 GOP governors are facing primary challengers from within their own party, many with Donald Trump’s blessing.
One incumbent governor’s days who’s days are looking increasingly numbered is Brian Kemp, who is vulnerable like never before following Stacey Abrams’ announcement she’s running for governor. Trump took the opportunity to go after Kemp, saying, “the MAGA base will just not vote for [Kemp] … but some good Republican will run, and some good Republican will get my endorsement.”
Despite escalating attacks from Trump and his allies on Republican governors, the RGA has made clear they’re standing by their incumbents. But with Trump tightening his iron grip over the Republican Party and no sign of a cease-fire, they’re in for a showdown.
Donald Trump once again endorsed a GOP candidate challenging a sitting Republican governor In Idaho, picking Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin over Gov. Brad Little. McGeachin is best known for undermining Little whenever he leaves the state, when McGeachin seizes the opportunity to take full advantage of her powers as acting governor and implement policies Little disagrees with before he comes back.
Trump also recently endorsed a GOP primary challenger in Massachusetts, where he refused to support incumbent Gov. Charlie Baker, saying Baker has “done nothing for the Republican Party.”
Trump’s endorsement of GOP primary candidates is making GOP governors extremely vulnerable to attack. He’s also openly encouraged primary challenges to Brian Kemp and Mike DeWine. But the infighting doesn’t stop there. GOP governors are facing an onslaught of right-wing attacks — whether they’re from top Trump allies, far-right GOPers, or from Trump himself.
In Texas, former top Trump advisor and Q-anon conspiracy theorist Michael Flynn announced he’s endorsing one of Greg Abbott’s primary opponents. And in South Dakota, one of the state’s most conservative lawmakers just announced he’s launching a primary challenge against Kristi Noem from the right.
Each one of the ultra-right attacks against an incumbent GOP governor is another blow to RGA Chair Doug Ducey, as he fights a losing battle to wrestle control of his organization away from Donald Trump’s wrath. It’s no secret how Trump feels about Ducey. He has repeatedly attacked him, labeling him an “unelectable RINO.” Now, Ducey’s terrible standing with the former president is leaving him powerless to stop these attacks from within his own party.
RGA Chair and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has been openly feuding with former President Trump over the 2020 election.
Ducey took to social media to directly refute claims from Trump about the election, with Business Insider reporting that Ducey “hit back at President Donald Trump after the president slammed him for confirming that President-elect Joe Biden had won the state.”
Making the cold relationship worse, Ducey also publicly “ignored” a phone call from Trump.
In contrast, key Republican governors have pushed Trump’s false claims and conspiracies about the November election.
The Sun Sentinel said: Governor “DeSantis, without proof, has gone over the edge by refusing to recognize Joe Biden as the president-elect and promoting the baseless claim that Democrats stole the election."
The Texas Tribune reported: “Gov. Greg Abbott doesn't acknowledge Joe Biden as president-elect.”
Nashville Public Radio reported that Governor Bill Lee “Still Doesn’t Recognize Biden As President-Elect.”
ABC News said: “Gov. Kristi Noem continued to cast doubt on the election result.”
While “Ducey says Trump bears blame for Capitol riots,” numerous Republican governors, gubernatorial candidates and Republicans looking toward higher office across the country are in staunch disagreement.
KXAN: “Greg Abbott avoided directly criticizing President Donald Trump…”
Kansas City Star: Missouri Governor Mike Parson “says Trump ‘absolutely not’ to blame for U.S. Capitol violence”
WOWT reported that Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts believes “Trump not to blame for U.S. Capitol riot”
Des Moines Register reported that Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said: “What we need to do is stop pointing fingers.”
AL.com reported: “Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey declined to assign any blame to President Trump for the storming of the U.S. Capitol.”
In the latest in the saga of the GOP’s incessant squabbling, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem attacked her fellow Republican governors in a speech at CPAC for their response to the pandemic, accusing them of "rewriting history."
In her comments that were not-so-subtly directed at governors like Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott, Noem said, “we've got Republican governors across this country pretending they didn't shut down their states; that they didn't close their regions; that they didn't mandate masks.”
Much like how Ducey and the RGA have failed to stop a number of GOP primaries against incumbents, Noem’s jabs at GOP governors are clearly intended to score political points and rile up a far-right crowd.
Ducey is under fire from a pro-Trump organization founded by a former Trump White House staffer for the RGA’s fundraising practices, once again putting GOP governors in between Ducey and Trump’s major feud.
A recent report from the pro-Trump group slams Ducey saying: “the current donor class to RGA raises concerns about outside money from leftist donors influencing the policy direction of the group that is now under Gov. Ducey’s leadership.”
This report raises serious questions for Republican governors like Ron DeSantis, Brian Kemp, Greg Abbott and more, who have all echoed similar claims to desperately cater to Trump. Do these governors stand with the RGA or with the pro-Trump group bashing Ducey?
While Ducey is once again on the wrong side of Trump, here’s what GOP governors have previously said to pander to Trump on this issue:
Ron DeSantis: “You can’t be cowed by these organizations, or particularly woke corporations, from doing the right thing.”
Brian Kemp: “...cancel culture and woke political activists are coming for every aspect of your life.”
Greg Abbott: “Some Wall Street CEOs are divesting from fossil fuel businesses. That's a two-way street. Texas is passing laws to divest from those woke businesses.”
Kristi Noem: “[The] MLB is the latest pro sports league being used & bullied by the most radical liberal groups in this country...#GetWokeGoBroke.”