Trump Intelligence Whistleblower

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., left, and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., approach a television camera to deliver a GOP response to the news from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., that she is in support of an official impeachment inquiry on President Donald Trump, Tuesday Sept. 24, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

“Cut that crap out,” U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy reportedly told Republican congressmen in a private meeting Wednesday. "No more attacks to one another," he tweeted later in the day.

The highest-ranking Republican in the House was talking about GOP representatives, some of whom trying to censure Wyoming U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, the party’s number-three leader in the House, for voting to impeach then-President Donald Trump a second time. Others want to strip an Education committee assignment from Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, an ardent Trump supporter who has mocked the killing of school children at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Florida.

While Louisiana Republican Party Chair Louis Gurvich says he’s unaware of any infighting between GOP factions in this state, nationally Republicans on both sides acknowledge they are headed for a showdown.

Trump was the voice of a middle class frustrated by incomes that did not keep up with expenses. But he also amped up the “us versus them” rhetoric to such a point that many of the mainline conservative “us” voters struggled with being identified as a Trump Republican.

That was particularly true after the Jan. 6 raid on the U.S. Capitol that was fueled by nine weeks of a sitting president spreading false conspiracy theories about how his reelection was stolen. Conservative television, radio and internet repeated that bellicose insistence.

“The party has to rebuild itself,” Nebraska Republican U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, a Trump critic, wrote in The Atlantic. “Sensing a chance at tribal expansion, some on the left are thrilled by the chaos on the right, and they’re eager to seize the moment to banish from polite society not just those who participated and encouraged violence, but anyone with an R next to his or her name.”

Louisiana Republicans aren’t participating in the national GOP hand-wringing. Trump polled 58% of the 2.1 million votes cast in Louisiana — 84% in Livingston Parish.

“That support centered around much of what President Trump stood for and policies he pushed. It wasn’t as much about the individual as it was a set of core values that most Republicans and conservatives in Louisiana share,” said Lionel Rainey III, a prominent Republican campaign strategist in Baton Rouge.

“In Louisiana, traditional Republicans are few and far between. There’s tremendous support for Trump. Based on all the people I talk to, I haven’t seen an erosion. The people who liked him before, still like him,” said Woody Jenkins, a majordomo in the East Baton Rouge Republican Party. In 1996, he came within 5,788 votes out of 1.7 million cast from being the state’s first Republican U.S. senator since Reconstruction.

Trump’s Make America Great Again movement didn’t bring many new followers on board, Jenkins said, but energized many Louisiana voters.

“He didn’t persuade that many but gave voice to what a lot of people already believed,” Jenkins said.

“Trump has vowed a campaign of political retribution against lawmakers who have crossed him — a number that has grown with the impeachment vote,” an Associated Press analysis stated. The president remains hugely popular with the party’s grassroots and is capable of raising enough money to be a force in 2022.

Greg Buisson, a political campaign strategist in Metairie, says his state and federal political clients, mostly from south Louisiana, don’t want to bring the national mindset to this state.

“I don’t see anybody, at the moment, trying to create a divided party like during tea party time” 10 years ago, said Buisson. “If you’re going to see it, you’ll see it in the election setting.”

Candidates will use Trump — both pro and con — to better define themselves to voters, Buisson predicted.

Congressmen will next be elected in November 2022, including the reelection race of Sen. John N. Kennedy. Legislators and statewide officials, including the governor's office, will be on the ballot in the fall of 2023.

On the legislative level, state Rep. Blake Miguez, who is leader of the Louisiana House’s Republican majority, said tamping down angry partisanship was an important goal. The tone of legislative debate, which had been nasty since 2014, relaxed somewhat with the 2019 election of a near super-majority of representatives who supported Trump. That limited intraparty factionalism, which allowed better communications across the aisle.

“The first thing you have to do is think about the future of the state and realize that anyone willing to take time away from the family to serve is deserving of respect,” said Miguez, of Erath. “We don’t have to agree but we need to maintain a degree of civility.”


Email Mark Ballard at mballard@theadvocate.com.