Trump-endorsed candidates face off against establishment-backed candidates, with Trump-endorsed candidates winning primaries 93 percent of the time so far, according to data reviewed by Axios.
GOP leaders maneuver to split the party by backing establishment candidates, and propping up spoiler candidates, paving the way for Republicans who have a history of capitulating to the left. The GOP establishment continues to try to move away from Trump, despite his overwhelming popularity with voters.
In Arizona, the GOP establishment rejected gubernatorial primary front runner Kari Lake, who garnered a Trump endorsement. Instead, they have backed wealthy donor and housing developer Karrin Taylor Robson. Robson won backing from Arizona's current governor, Doug Ducey, who in his last term consolidated support from former vice-president Mike Pence in opposing Lake as his successor.
Establishment-aligned groups have been running attack ads against Kari Lake, with FCC records revealing invoices for Arizona KPHO-TV for ads totaling over $156,000 payment to Freedom's Future Fund, a dark money group that lists Charles Gantt as treasurer and has no filings on the Federal Election Commission's (FEC) website.
The term dark money applies to organizations that attempt to influence voters, but make it difficult to track funding sources, in many cases, by directing it through multiple organizations that create enough noise to bury funding origins.
Gantt has made appearances in other races, as well, such as that of Trump-endorsed Washington state congressional candidate Joe Kent.
Gantt appears in FEC filings in the WA-3 congressional district race, listed as treasurer for, Conservatives For A Stronger America, a single-candidate super PAC established just four weeks before the WA-3 primary.
The super PAC received a large infusion of funds, with outside spending totaling over $979,729, however, donors have not been disclosed in public FEC filings. Expenditures show ad buys in support of candidates Heidi St. John and in opposition to Kent.
The funds, said Kent, "prop up a spoiler candidate and split the vote so they can re-elect the Establishment's RINO incumbent, Jaime Herrera Beutler," using an acronym that means "republican in name only".
If Trump endorsements were indeed a wild card, candidates would not bother to align themselves with Trump's political brand, but they do, heavily. St. John's latest mailer misleads constituents by featuring Trump prominently, implying that St. John received Trump's endorsement instead of Kent. She did not.
A vote for St. John would largely benefit Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler by pulling votes away from Kent. "I think we can agree that whoever President Trump endorses is going to kind of suck the oxygen out of the room for everybody else," St. John said in a Clark county forum, going on to say "in lieu of getting the endorsement I would back whoever did." St. John did not receive the endorsement and stayed in the race anyway, despite her previous words.
In the WA-3 congressional race, incumbent Herrera Beutler, who has logged a 12-year term in the House of Representatives, faces intense criticism and is dubbed a politician of the establishment for her role in support of the impeachment against former President Trump. Campaign records show Herrera Beutler amassed a $744,754 war chest in the weeks following her statement in support of testimony by House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and subsequent vote in support of the articles of impeachment. By April, Herrera Beutler raised nearly $2 million, with $1.2 million coming from political action committees.
FEC filings show that in the days leading up to the WA-3 primary, the Kevin McCarthy-aligned super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund donated $500,000 to the WFW Action Fund, INC, a hybrid PAC which unloaded $725,000 in negative ads hitting Trump-endorsed candidate Joe Kent, with additional expenditures filed being filed.
Big Dog Strategies, which consults the Congressional Leadership Fund also appears in recent FEC documents filed by Conservatives For A Stronger America, and WFW Action Fund, INC, along with advertising expenditures for OnMessage Inc, and Red Eagle Media for services rendered in mailers, TV, and radio advertising.
"Dark money manipulates electorates," said Trump-backed Kent. "I haven't accepted funding from dark money groups, adding that doing so means enabling corporations to control future outcomes.
"Kevin McCarthy's PAC and the NRCC were directly funding Herrera Beutler, we called them out, and now dark money is coming into the race and they are backed by the establishment, Republicans that are taking money like Jaime does from the Koch Industries, " said Kent, "it leaves constituents flooded out of a fair democratic process because money and power end up swaying the vote."
Former President Trump's top allies have been vocal about their objectives to shift into an America-first stance, with bids to disengage the US from globalist initiatives, to protect borders, and carve back US reliance on China.
The establishment holds provenance and governance over the inner workings of a system they've spent their careers building, and rejects outsiders who do not want to play in the house they built. Trump is forthcoming in front of a corporate media that is used to setting the narrative.
The objective of the establishment is to gain as many seats as possible in the legislative branches of government ahead of a presidential election to maintain dominance over the executive branch and drown out their America-first counterparts.
The Washington and Arizona GOP primary elections take place August 2.
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