“I think anytime you are focused on the future, you can’t so much go to the past,” Mark Lawler, who defeated Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), the Democratic House campaign chair, said Thursday on CNN.
Several high-profile Trump-backed candidates lost on Tuesday, including Mehmet Oz and Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania, and Don Bolduc in New Hampshire. Several others are in danger of losing, including Blake Masters in Arizona and Adam Laxalt in Nevada. Georgia’s Senate race is heading to a runoff after neither candidate garnered a majority of the vote, but Trump-endorsed Herschel Walker didn’t win nearly as many votes as Georgia GOP Gov. Brian Kemp.
In the House, things are still very uncertain. Many Trump-backed candidates lost and the GOP is now staring at the possibility of a very narrow majority. There’s also a small chance for Democrats to retain control, a scenario once thought unthinkable. The much-hyped “red wave” prediction of a Democratic wipeout ended up crashing as a ripple.
The midterm flop has prompted recriminations and yet another round of calls to dump Trump, something the GOP establishment has been unable to do since he first announced his candidacy for president in 2015. Similar conversations took place after he incited a mob to march on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, for example, and Republican leaders quickly fell back in line after they realized his supporters didn’t abandon him.
“There’s an increased appetite for moving past Trump, but as Frank Sinatra sang, ‘I heard that song before,’” Doug Heye, the former Republican National Committee communications director, told HuffPost. “What D.C. Republicans want to do and what they actually do are not always the same thing. And they’ll keep a close eye on where voters and members are.”
Retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) blamed Trump for his party’s performance in Tuesday’s elections, saying the former president played a “disastrous role.” Toomey backed Oz in the Pennsylvania Senate race, but never endorsed Mastriano, the extremist election denier, for governor. Toomey also voted to oust Trump after the Jan. 6 insurrection.
“I think Trump’s kind of a drag on our ticket. I think Donald Trump gives us problems, politically. We lost the House, the Senate and the White House in two years when Trump was on the ballot, or in office,” Ryan told WISN-12. “I think we just have some Trump hangover. I think he’s a drag on our office, on our races.”
Even some Trump-friendly Fox News hosts took shots at the former president, questioning why he didn’t devote as much money to the candidates he helped elevate as others in the GOP, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).