Faced with an unexpected moment of reckoning, some moderate Republicans pointed out that the party has some important decisions about its future:
Will they be the party of former President Donald Trump or the party that won the election?
Can they dismantle the “extremism” that more Republicans in the party are openly talking about?
First test: The first sign of where the party is headed will come this week, when Republicans, who are expected to end up with their narrow majority in the House, choose their speaker nominee.
Some of the most pro-Trump lawmakers want the Rep. Kevin McCarthy has pledged to take a more combative stance against the Biden administration. While McCarthy is expected to win, the unfolding drama will show what sacrifices he must make to keep House Republicans in line. CNN reported Monday that Trump has been quietly trying to support McCarthy.
Beyond extremism: Two moderate Republican governors who will hand over their jobs to Democrats next year are talking about how their parties lost in a year that was supposed to collapse.
“Voters, in general and especially in swing states, aren’t interested in extremism. They just aren’t,” the Massachusetts governor said. Charlie Baker is interviewed by CNN’s Jake Tapper on Monday’s episode of “The Lead.” Baker, who will be succeeded by Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey in January, said Trump’s influence hurt Republicans on Election Day and was driving people away from the party.
Trump’s third strike: Maryland state government Larry Hogan, a longtime Trump critic, was more outspoken about him in an interview Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“Common-sense conservatives who focus on talking about issues that people care about, like the economy, crime and education, really won,” Hogan told Danabash. “But those who tried to reopen the case for the 2020 election, focused on conspiracy theories and talked about things voters don’t care about, were met with almost universal rejection.”
In this regard, the American electorate is sophisticated, sorting Republicans among certain races and Democrats among others.
Hogan, who will be replaced by Democrat Wes Moore in January, said it was the third time in a row that Trump has made Republicans pay. “It’s like three strikes and you’re out,” he said, adding, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Donald Trump keeps saying, ‘We’re going to Becoming winning so much, we’re going to get tired of winning. I’m tired of losing. I mean, that’s all he does.”
Others are not so direct, even if they are saying something similar.