For never-Trump conservatives, it's never-ending misery – The Washington Post

A lunchtime newsletter featuring political analysis on the stories driving the day.
with research by Caroline Anders
A lunchtime newsletter featuring political analysis on the stories driving the day.
Welcome to The Daily 202! Tell your friends to sign up here. Olivier is off this week, but Paige Winfield Cunningham, the deputy editor of The Post’s 202 newsletter franchise, has you covered today.
By now, primary voters in most states have chosen candidates for the November midterm elections. 
And the candidates are not at all what conservatives in the anti-Trump camp wanted. They’d hoped, with varying degrees of optimism, that this first big electoral test of Trump’s hold on the Republican Party would bring evidence it’s moving on from both him and his style.
But for these onlookers, the primary season has been a near-crushing disappointment. 
“Things are bad, is my analysis, things are bad,” said Sarah Longwell, a never-Trumper GOP strategist who holds focus groups of MAGA Republicans. “The party is not going back to anything that looks anything like the party I came up in.”
Consider the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. No one ever expected a great survival rate for these folks in the 2022 midterms. But most have either jumped off the train or been pushed off by Republican primary voters, leaving perhaps just two with a chance of retaining their seats next year.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy.), whose nail-biter primary is Tuesday, could make it three (but it’s not looking good for her, as my colleague Paul Kane notes today). She has a double target on her back, for also participating in the Jan. 6 investigative committee.
“I certainly would have liked it if more of the impeachers weren’t driven from public life,” said Jonah Goldberg, an editor at The Dispatch and prominent Trump critic. “I find it remarkably depressing that the central litmus test of the Republican Party … is where you come down on a single personality.”
Of the rest of the 10 impeachment Republicans, four chose not to run again and three lost primary races to Trump-backed candidates. They include Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) and Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler, whose rather surprising defeats earlier this month brought another dark twist for conservative Trump critics.
“My view of where things are is quite a bit darker in recent weeks than it was even a few weeks ago,” said David French, another editor at The Dispatch and prominent conservative Trump critic.
French said he felt some optimism after Georgia’s primary election in May, which seemed to offer a bit of evidence that voters might be rejecting Trump-backed candidates and their unfounded claims the 2020 election was stolen by Democrats.
A slate of incumbents who soundly rejected Trump’s stolen-election lies prevailed, including Gov. Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Attorney General Chris Carr (although Trump-endorsed Herschel Walker seized the GOP nomination for the state’s U.S. Senate race).
“There was a moment in Georgia where I thought there were glimmers of hope,” French said. “That melted away.”
Now it looks like the Georgia results were largely an anomaly, more a reflection of that state’s particular experience with Trump and his way of doing business than anything else. Many Georgia Republicans blamed Trump in early 2021 for costing them two Senate seats to Democrats, as he peddled election falsehoods and hounded Raffensperger to interfere with the results.
Goldberg described the experience as a “booster shot of sanity” for Georgia Republicans. “They already had the antibodies in the system to say we’re not just going to blindly follow Donald Trump.”
But those antibodies aren’t showing up elsewhere. In scores of prominent races around the country, Trump-embracing candidates are now due to appear on the November ballot. In Pennsylvania, there’s Senate candidate Mehmet Oz and gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano. In Michigan, Tudor Dixon is the GOP nominee for governor. In Ohio, J.D. Vance is running for Senate.
Nowhere has Trumpism saturated the election as much as in Arizona, where a slate of candidates regularly air claims that the election was stolen: they include gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake; secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem and Senate candidate Blake Masters.
My colleague Amy Gardner has a broad tally out this morning: In the 41 states with primary contests this year, more than half the GOP winners so far have embraced Trump’s false claims about his defeat. 
Their presence is even greater in six battleground states that decided the 2020 contest. “In Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, at least 54 winners out of 87 contests — more than 62 percent of nominees — have embraced the former president’s false claims,” Amy writes.
Six months ago, before the primaries started, conservative thought leaders who refused to jump on the Trump train held varying degrees of optimism. 
For neoconservative writer Bill Kristol, who never felt the GOP would return to some sort of pre-Trump stasis, the primary election season has unfolded much as he feared. There’s little evidence of some “hidden group of Republicans yearning to free themselves from all this Trump stuff,” he said.
Longwell said she never felt that scattered moments, like in Georgia, where more traditional Republicans prevailed were predictive of the rest of the country. But she also thought more impeachment Republicans would have survived.
“I thought Peter Meijer would be okay, I thought Herrera-Beutler would be okay,” she said. “It’s been worse than I thought.”
“A federal judge on Monday denied Sen. Lindsey O. Graham’s (R-S.C.) request to quash his subpoena in Georgia prosecutors’ investigation into potential criminal interference in the 2020 presidential election by President Donald Trump and his allies, signaling he must testify in the probe,” Eugene Scott reports.
“Iran denied any involvement Monday in last week’s attack that left author Salman Rushdie with severe injuries after he was stabbed in the neck and abdomen onstage at an event in western New York,” Jennifer Hassan reports.
“In its first public reaction to the stabbing, Iran said Rushdie and his supporters were to blame for the attack, more than three decades after Tehran issued a directive for Muslims to kill Rushdie because of his book ‘The Satanic Verses,’ published in 1988.”
“China announced new military drills around Taiwan on Monday, as a delegation of U.S. lawmakers met with Taiwanese officials at a time of heightened tensions in the region, with Beijing accusing the United States of ‘playing cheap political tricks’ by strengthening its unofficial relationship with the self-governing democracy,” Christian Shepherd and Eva Dou report.
Brittney Griner’s defense team appealed the verdict of a Russian court that sentenced the American basketball player to 9½ years in prison for bringing cannabis oil into the country in February, Bryan Pietsch, Annabelle Timsit, Reis Thebault and Robyn Dixon report.
“A draft of their report, provided to The Washington Post, contains new details about the number of Americans left behind when the last military transport departed Kabul’s international airport and the paucity of State Department officers on hand to process the tens of thousands of Afghans trying to flee the Taliban’s takeover. But overall, there are few major revelations,” Karoun Demirjian and Tim Craig report.
A Republican aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the committee, said that was because the State Department refused to turn over documents or consent to interviews, leaving investigators to rely on public records and materials provided by whistleblowers. A spokesman for the agency said in response that officials had briefed Congress more than 150 times since the withdrawal, and continue to update lawmakers on efforts to relocate and resettle Afghans.”
“The groups are pursuing a variety of tactics, from bills that would ban the abortion-inducing drugs altogether to others that would allow family members to sue medication providers or attempt to shut down the nonprofit groups that help women obtain and safely use the drugs,” Kimberly Kindy reports.
“A series of setbacks in the administration’s response — including clunky early testing protocols, slow vaccine distribution, a lack of federal funding to help state and local governments respond to the outbreak, and patchy communication with communities most affected by the virus — allowed the disease to gain a foothold among men who have sex with men, particularly those who have had multiple partners in a short period of time,” Politico‘s Krista Mahr, Megan Messerly and Katherine Ellen Foley report.
Epidemiologists, public health officials and doctors now fear the government cannot eliminate the disease in that community, and they’re warning that they are running out of time to stop the virus from spreading in the U.S. population more broadly.”
“Biden will speak at a Democratic National Committee event in Maryland next week, rallying voters ahead of November’s midterm elections. It will be Biden’s first political rally in months and will serve as the kickoff to his fall midterm push,” Erin Cox reports.
“Three dozen White House aides, members of Congress and top staff as well as top political operatives spoke to CNN about Biden’s race against time to change perceptions of his presidency. It’s a sprint aimed at defying history by salvaging the Democratic majorities in Congress in the November midterms and — just as critically for the President — staving off any more defections from within his own party as he looks toward the reelection campaign that he is indeed planning to launch early next year,” CNN’s Edward-Isaac Dovere reports.
“The Biden administration will continue to engage directly with the Syrian government to locate and return Austin Tice, a journalist missing for a decade in Syria, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday,” the Miami Herald’s Michael Wilner reports.
“Blinken was speaking at an event at the National Press Club in Washington commemorating 10 years since Tice, a freelance correspondent who reported for McClatchy, The Washington Post and other media outlets, disappeared on Aug. 14, 2012.”
“A Washington Post analysis of [new data from the nonprofit First Street Foundation] found that today’s climate conditions have caused an estimated 46 percent of Americans to endure at least three consecutive days of 100-plus degree heat, on average, each year. Over the next 30 years, that will increase to 63 percent of the population,” John Muyskens, Andrew Ba Tran, Anna Phillips, Simon Ducroquet and Naema Ahmed report.
“In an August 8 column in the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal, Eugene Scalia (son of late Justice Antonin Scalia and former Trump anti-labor secretary of labor) and Federalist Society darling Svetlana Gans outlined a legal strategy to cripple the Federal Trade Commission from effectively enforcing antitrust laws. They warned that expanded antitrust enforcement ‘would run headlong into the major-questions doctrine’ as set forth in West Virginia v. EPA,Miles Mogulescu writes for the American Prospect.
The Scalia/Gans plan represents the corporate legal elite contribution to the right wing’s plans to dismantle the federal government’s ability to check corporate power, epitomized by what Paul Waldman recently called ‘Turnkey Authoritarianism.’”
“Cheney is looking far beyond Tuesday’s Republican primary for this state’s at-large seat in the U.S. House, a race that she is likely to lose, barring an unprecedented surge of non-Republican voters into the GOP contest,” Paul Kane reports.
She entered Congress six years ago as a relative celebrity, the daughter of the former vice president who spent several years using Fox News appearances to deliver acid-tongued critiques of the Obama-Biden administration. And she will exit the Capitol, likely in 4½ months, as the face of an anti-Trump movement that has cost her old alliances but left her with new supporters, clamoring for a next act more nationally focused.”
Biden is in Kiawah Island, S.C. There are no events on his public schedule today.
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation has a French connection: The agency’s forerunner was created in 1908 by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte’s great-nephew, Charles J. Bonaparte, when he was President Theodore Roosevelt’s attorney general,” Ronald G. Shafer writes.
Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.


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