Republican Pat Toomey is retiring from his Pennsylvania Senate seat at the end of the term. But before he goes, he is speaking some hard truths to his party.
Asked Thursday by CNN’s Erin Burnett about how Republicans lost the contest to replace him, Toomey was blunt that “President Trump inserting himself into the race … was never going to be helpful.”
Trump had endorsed Mehmet Oz in the primary and rallied with him the final weekend before the general election.
Noted Toomey: “We were in a moment, we were in a cycle, we were at a time when it’s good for Republicans for the race to be about President Biden, who is not popular, whose policies have failed. And instead, President Trump had to insert himself and that changed the nature of the race.”
Toomey wasn’t done. He added that: “All over the country, there’s a very high correlation between MAGA candidates and big losses, or at least dramatically underperforming.”
Which isn’t wrong! In Toomey’s home state, aside from Oz’s 4-point loss to Democrat John Fetterman, Trump-backed Doug Mastriano lost the governor’s race by 15 points, a landslide in a state as closely divided as Pennsylvania.
In battleground Michigan, Trump-endorsed Tudor Dixon lost by 11 points to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a defeat that led to a blue wave down-ballot in the state. In Illinois, the Trump-backed gubernatorial candidate lost by 10. In the Maryland governor’s race, the Trump-backed candidate lost by 25.
On the Senate side, Blake Masters, the Trump-picked candidate in Arizona, trails Sen. Mark Kelly in a race that is still too close to call. Herschel Walker, another high-profile candidate backed by Trump, finds himself headed for a runoff in Georgia on December 6 against Sen. Raphael Warnock. And even in places where the Trump-supported candidate won – like Ohio – it took a massive outlay of cash from national Republicans (roughly $30 million) to drag J.D. Vance across the finish line.
Trump, for his part, is entirely unwilling to consider that he was – and is – anything but an unalloyed good for his party, declaring a “Big Victory” on his Truth Social website Friday.
There is, without question, a portion of the Republican Party that believes that – and will follow Trump wherever he leads them (even if it’s to electoral destruction).
But as Toomey’s comments make clear, there is also a group of Republicans who view this as a now-or-never moment with Trump and the party. Either they use what happened in the midterms to push him to the side, or he remains a dominant figure and they just keep losing elections.
The Point: Toomey can’t be congratulated too strongly for his bravery in speaking out against Trump, given that he has one foot already out the door. But his voice is part of a growing chorus of Republicans suggesting that Tuesday’s election was the final straw for Trump. Will base voters listen?