Republicans fear Trump’s inauguration could turn the Georgia Senate race upside down

Former President Trump’s anticipated announcement of a presidential nomination tonight hasn’t made many Republicans too happy as they turn their attention to bolstering Herschel Walker in next month’s Georgia Senate runoff.

Trump is itching to break through the gates and make his third presidential bid official in as many cycles. He has scheduled an announcement for 9 p.m. at his resort in Mar-a-Lago.

But the expected move has stunned Trump’s allies and fellow Republicans alike as the political world focuses on Georgia, where Walker will face Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) on December 6.

“No, it doesn’t help,” a GOP strategist with ties to Trump World told The Hill. “Midterms 2022 is not over and anything that takes away from the ability to raise funds, get the word out, focus the media and journalists on this race is bad for the Republican Party as a whole.”

Jason Miller, a top aide to the former president, said late last week that Trump should delay his official push into the 2024 GOP primary, telling Newsmax that “Priorities A, B, and C must now concern Herschel.”

“It’s bigger than anything else in the country. We have to show that the focus is on Georgia,” Miller said.

A day later, however, Miller said Trump would actually go ahead with the campaign unveiling and that it would be “a very professional, very buttoned-up announcement.”

Miller isn’t the only one who has concerns. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is also reportedly considering a presidential bid, tweeted Monday that the GOP should have “one focus” — helping Walker — adding that he was “all in.”

The chatter surrounding Trump’s planned announcement comes three weeks before the Georgia race, where Walker is a bit of an underdog against the incumbent Democrat. Warnock outstripped Walker in last week’s contest by 35,000 votes, or about 0.9 percentage points, but failed to top the required 50 percent mark to avoid a runoff.

Republicans are still wondering what Trump’s involvement in the race will be like, but the former president will almost certainly play a role.

Ahead of the January 2021 state runoff, Trump held two rallies in support of the then-Sens. David Perdue (R) and Kelly Loeffler (R) – who later lost to Senator Jon Ossoff (D) and Warnock respectively.

Some Republicans blamed Trump for the losses, believing his claims of a rigged and stolen presidential election prompted potential GOP voters to stay home.

Now that some Republicans are again blaming Trump in part for the party’s disappointing midterm election performance, the extent of Trump’s involvement could be instructive, including whether MAGA Inc., his super PAC, will spend money to help Walker strengthen.

MAGA Inc. spent $3.4 million on ads supporting Walker during the final month of the campaign. By contrast, Trump’s Save America PAC spent $4.4 million on ads targeting Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) ahead of his first rampage this year against Perdue.

“This PAC has to spend a lot of money to help in Georgia,” said the strategist with ties to Trump World. “This race cannot be Trump versus Warnock, and the further up in the race he gets, the more it will be Trump versus Warnock or the media and not Walker versus Warnock or the media. This is the race we’re trying to win right now.

“I haven’t heard from any Republican who would like Trump to move forward to participate in the Georgia election,” the strategist added.

Adding to the GOP’s problems in the Peach State, competition will no longer determine control of the Senate, lowering the stakes — and the incentive for some Republicans to go to the polls.

Democrats retained the Senate majority over the weekend when Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) defeated former Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R).

Walker is also stripped of the benefit of having Kemp on top of the ticket. Kemp defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams to win re-election last week and picked up 50 percent, meaning Walker won’t have the governor’s coattails on the ticket like last week.

“Why would it possibly be cheaper for Herschel in the first week of December?” said a GOP official of the looming runoff. “Warnock has never been behind on a ballot when he was presented to voters three times as a candidate for the Senate general election.”

Some Republicans argue that it would be foolhardy for Trump to dodge the Georgia race, as Walker still needs all the supporters in the ruby ​​rural counties to campaign for him, something Trump can help with. They also say Trump’s delay in launching it is unrealistic given lawmakers’ calls for the election to be postponed or held in a timely manner because of the runoff.

“I would argue that it can be helpful. The Trump factor is burned into it,” said a second GOP staffer with Trump connections. “It’s not like voters are like, ‘Oh, I wonder if Herschel Walker and Donald Trump are connected.’ It’s not like you can separate the two, so why not take advantage of that?”

“I don’t think it’s fair that everyone uses Georgia for their own political interests and doesn’t expect to do the same,” the agent added.