GOP Candidates Brace for Election with Trump as Nominee Despite Charges


Vulnerable Republicans are largely aligning with former President Donald Trump despite the potential threat his conviction poses to Republican control of Congress next year.

The Thursday verdict regarding Trump’s attempt to hide a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election could unpredictably influence the presidential race. The conviction might energize Republican turnout but could alienate suburban voters.

Despite this, vulnerable incumbents seem to be embracing the guilty verdict, banking on Trump’s portrayal as a victim of a political prosecution resonating in their locales.

“Is this how we are doing politics now? By weaponizing the justice and court system to attack a political rival right before the election rather than engaging in spirited debates?” questioned Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-NY), who is seeking reelection in a district President Joe Biden won in 2020.

Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, another Republican running in a Biden-won New York district, labeled the verdict a “miscarriage of justice” on Thursday. Rep. Juan Ciscomani (R-AZ) likewise claimed voters were disinterested in the partisan “games” behind the prosecution.

His race is now a toss-up following the Arizona Supreme Court’s upholding of a stringent 1864 abortion ban.

“This is precisely why the American public is losing faith in our judicial system,” Ciscomani said regarding the hush money verdict. “People want a government that is protective, accountable, and transparent. Today, that’s not what we witnessed.”

Even before Trump was convicted of falsifying business records, Democrats planned to link Republicans in swing districts to what they term the former president’s “MAGA extremism.” This strategy is credited with tempering a red wave in last year’s midterm elections.

The conviction has now provided Democrats with new ammunition to criticize those Republicans, suggesting their Trump support undermines the rule of law.

“House Republicans have continued to prioritize Donald Trump over the American people. Their districts deserve better than their cult-like devotion to a wannabe dictator,” stated Courtney Rice, communications director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Every one of them should rescind their endorsement but likely won’t.”

Rice added, “If House Republicans were serious about justice and the rule of law, they would stop supporting a convicted felon for president. Instead, we’ll hold them accountable at the ballot box in November.”

Not all Republican candidates have shown support for Trump. In deep-blue Maryland, former Gov. Larry Hogan, the Republican Senate nominee, urged voters to “respect the verdict.”

Meanwhile, in some scenarios, Republicans have turned the tables, challenging Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), two vulnerable Democrats in red states, for not condemning the verdict.

Whether the conviction aids or hinders Trump’s chances of reclaiming the presidency remains uncertain. The same is true for the candidacies of Republicans supporting the former president.

Over several weeks as the trial progressed (along with stories linking Trump to the alleged misconduct), public polling for the presidential race saw minimal change.

According to surveys, most voters perceive the New York hush money case as less serious compared to Trump’s other criminal prosecutions. However, the notion of voting for a felon might influence some independents and even Republicans.

Earlier this month, a Quinnipiac University poll revealed that, among Trump supporters, 6% stated they would be less likely to vote for him if convicted.

Currently, congressional Republicans are leveraging the guilty verdict in their campaigns, with their campaign branches reporting record fundraising shortly afterward. The Trump campaign claimed it “shattered” fundraising records, amassing $34.8 million — nearly double any single day’s previous total.

Cami Mondeaux
Cami Mondeaux
Congressional Reporter. A Utah native, Cami graduated from Westminster College in Salt Lake City in 2021 and covered state government as a breaking news reporter for KSL News Radio.

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