A dismal night for Republicans on Election Day 2023 is giving some of former President Donald Trump’s rivals fresh ammunition to target the commanding front-runner for the 2024 GOP nomination.
The disappointing results — which included Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear winning re-election in red-state Kentucky, Democrats winning total control of the state legislature in Virginia and expanding their legislative majorities in New Jersey, winning a state Supreme Court seat in battleground Pennsylvania, and the convincing victory in Ohio of a referendum that enshrined abortion rights in the state’s constitution — follow similar results in the 2022 midterm elections, when an expected red wave never materialized.
“Last night was a sweeping loss for republicans. It was eerily similar to last November, when the anticipated ‘red wave’ never came,” James Uthmeier, who manages Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign, said in a social media post.
The comment was a clear dig at Trump, who was heavily criticized by many in the GOP following last year’s midterms, as a bunch of high-profile Trump backed candidates went down to defeat, arguably costing Republicans control of the Senate, a larger House majority, and control of a handful of governorships.
Pointing to DeSantis’ convincingly gubernatorial re-election victory last year, Uthmeier emphasized “@RonDeSantis won by 20 points and turned the swing state of Florida solid red. We need a new leader that can win again for America.”
The campaign of former ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley — who’s battling DeSantis for a distant second place to Trump in the primary fight — argued in a memo Wednesday that “Trump is a loser.”
“Republicans suffered big losses in the 2022 midterms, the pattern continues one year later. Whether it’s a purple state like Virginia, a leaning red state like Ohio, or a deep red state like Kentucky, the election results last night were bad for Republicans,” the memo states.
Haley’s campaign argued that “we all know that Donald Trump struggles against Joe Biden in 2024, while Nikki Haley easily defeats Biden. In fact, Haley is the only candidate to lead Biden outside of the margin of error in a recent CNN poll.”
Another Trump rival, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, specifically blasted the former president of the defeat of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who lost to Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear on Tuesday.
Cameron, a protégé of longtime Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, attributed his victory earlier this year in the state’s Republican gubernatorial primary to Trump’s backing. He said at the time that “the Trump culture of winning is alive and well in Kentucky.” Cameron also highlighted the former president in his ads.
“Daniel Cameron was a rising star of the Republican Party until he decided to throw his lot in with Donald Trump. I mean, let’s face it, Donald Trump is political and electoral poison down ballot,” said Christie, a one-time Trump ally who’s become a very vocal critic of the former president.
“Daniel Cameron made a huge mistake by embracing Donald Trump and selling his soul to him, that’s what he did and the voters of Kentucky, a very red state,” Christie said.
Responding to Christie’s jabs, the Trump campaign argued that “Cameron was never able to shake the perception of being a McConnell acolyte, which depressed Republican turnout.”
And they noted that “Kentucky has elected only 3 Republican Governors since the end of World War 2.”
The attacks against Trump come hours before DeSantis, Haley, and Christie join Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy on the stage in Miami, Florida at the third Republican presidential primary debate.
Trump is skipping the third GOP primary debate in a row and instead will hold a competing rally just a few miles away, in Hialeah, Florida.