Hannity to Brian Kemp: Look, why don't you just retire instead of running again?

Hannity to Brian Kemp: Look, why don't you just retire instead of running again?

A leftover from last night in which the governor of Georgia is accused of being “ineffective.” Ineffective at what?

Ineffective at helping Trump rig the state’s election after the fact because his ego couldn’t handle the reality of losing to Biden?

It could be that this is a simple case of Hannity carrying Trump’s water as usual, amplifying this statement yesterday:

But there may be more to it. If Abrams ends up beating Kemp or some other Republican who defeats Kemp in a primary, it’ll be a debacle for the party — but not just for the party. It’ll be a debacle for Trump too. Maybe Hannity sees that coming and is doing what he can to try to avert it. Trump has much at stake in Georgia next year and having Kemp in the mix ups the risk considerably.

In a vacuum, with the national environment so favorable to Republicans, the GOP’s strategy in Georgia would be simple. Unite behind Kemp, who has the advantages of incumbency and name recognition, in the governor’s race and look for some Glenn Youngkin type to challenge Raphael Warnock for Senate. A Youngkin-esque candidate might be able to undo the Democrats’ gains in Georgia’s suburbs while consolidating the MAGA vote. The task for Republicans should be easier in Georgia, which Biden won by a hair, than it was in Virginia, which he won by 10 points.

But the simple strategy isn’t simple because Trump has a vendetta against Kemp and has thrown has support behind MAGA loyalist Herschel Walker in the Senate race, making him a prohibitive favorite for the nomination. Trump may also yet succeed in luring David Perdue or some other challenger into a primary against Kemp. If he does, a lot can go wrong for Trump. Kemp might win the primary anyway, proving Trump to be weaker than thought in Georgia. Or Kemp might lose the primary and the nominee might go on to lose to Abrams, in which case Trump will be blamed for having divided the party by scapegoating Kemp for his election butthurt. Or Walker’s “colorful” history could come back to hurt him in the general election, potentially making him a drag on the gubernatorial nominee too. Trump would also be blamed for that, promoting a not-ready-for-primetime buddy instead of choosing a more electable candidate.

He’ll probably insist on campaigning in Georgia too. Unless Republicans clean up there, he’ll be second-guessed for making himself a presence in the state instead of avoiding it, as he did in Virginia to Youngkin’s benefit.

Maybe Hannity’s looking at all of that and realizing that the odds are higher that the MAGA brand will be diminished by what happens in Georgia next year than that it’ll be helped. If Kemp can be pressured into quitting, that would give the party almost a full year to unite behind some new nominee — probably Perdue — which would in turn reduce the chances of bitterness keeping some Republican voters home next fall. But Kemp doesn’t seem inclined to retire. One senses that after being treated as a whipping boy for Trump’s electoral failure for the past year he’s not going to do him or the party the favor of getting out of the way. If Trump wants him out so badly, come and beat him. And then take the consequences in the general election:

Kemp could never have envisioned himself in this bind. He planned to share the 2022 ticket with U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, his hand-picked choice for an open seat, to make a stronger appeal to suburban white women who had spurned the party in droves…

Kemp is taking the threats seriously. He has reloaded his campaign coffers, sharpened his reelection platform and unveiled volleys of endorsements. The Republican Governors Association has pledged its support. His campaign recently returned to the airwaves with a TV ad touting his agenda.

And he’s calling in favors. The Georgia Chamber, which declined to support Kemp in 2018, endorsed his reelection bid this week. That development was seen in political circles as a signal to both Perdue and Abrams about where the corporate crowd is leaning.

Squandering the governor’s seat in Georgia amid an intensely pro-Republican national environment wouldn’t be the only case of the GOP handing Democrats a win that might have easily been avoided. Charlie Baker, the centrist Republican governor of Massachusetts, announced yesterday that he won’t run for a third term despite having one of the highest approval ratings in the country. One factor in that decision, I assume, was that Trump had already endorsed a primary challenger, raising the possibility of Baker being humiliated in a primary only to have the victor humiliated in Massachusetts’s general election. There’s zero chance that Trump’s MAGA pick will win in a state as blue as that, but Trump doesn’t care. He’d rather have that seat back in Democratic hands than see Baker, a critic, coast to another win:

Baker is close enough to being a Democrat himself that Republicans won’t mind terribly seeing him replaced by an actual Democrat. It’s different in Georgia, especially with Stacey Abrams now poised to benefit by becoming the next governor. In a way, having her on the ballot is a gift to the GOP: If the party is divided after the primary, the prospect of Abrams becoming governor will help it to unite next fall. But if Kemp survives the primary and faces Abrams in a rematch, it’s impossible to imagine Trump laying aside his grudges and endorsing him in the name of defeating Abrams. If he withholds his endorsement and Abrams defeats Kemp, that’s the nightmare scenario: It’d be a double whammy for Trump, first failing to unseat Kemp in the primary and then helping to hand the governor’s seat to one of the GOP’s least favorite politicians. He has more to lose in Georgia than he has to gain. Hannity seems to see that. I wonder if Trump does.

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