Voters in Alabama, Georgia, Virginia and Washington, D.C., selected their nominees on Tuesday for the November general election, with the first two states holding runoffs.
Last month, Trump’s candidates were drubbed statewide in the Peach State, starting with former senator David Perdue’s massive loss to Gov. Brian Kemp and Rep. Jody Hice’s remarkably failed bid to unseat Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. (Trump’s candidate for attorney general also lost.)
Congressional candidates Vernon Jones and Jake Evans each fell, piling onto Trump’s losses. Adding insult to injury, Jones was defeated by Kemp-endorsed businessman Mike Collins. Each trailed by a Perdue-esque margin, with their opponents winning more than 74 percent of the vote.
Neither result was too surprising, perhaps apart from the margin. But together, they reinforced how little regard Georgia Republicans have for Trump’s status as a kingmaker — and that Trump’s backing by itself is still only good for about 25-30 percent of the vote.
The twin losses in Georgia mean four Trump-backed House candidates have lost their party’s nomination, with Jones and Evans joining Rep. Madison Cawthorn (N.C.) and Katie Arrington (who had challenged Rep. Nancy Mace in South Carolina).
2. The significance of Katie Britt’s win
The night’s marquee race was a bit more difficult to parse. But it was still no real success story for Trump — and Alabama remains another state in which that endorsement has repeatedly failed.
On paper, the winner was Trump-backed Katie Britt, the former chief of staff to outgoing Sen Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.). Britt defeated Rep. Mo Brooks (R) with ease. With 96 percent of expected votes tallied, she led the vote by 63-to-37.
In actuality, though, Trump just hitched his wagon to someone already on track for a win. And he actually endorsed Brooks as far back as last year. But when Brooks failed to catch on, he pulled his endorsement. Then something funny happened: Brooks actually gained ground and qualified for the runoff.
Trump ultimately backed Britt, but he waited until the runoff to do so, and by that point, it was clear she was very likely to win — just like Doug Mastriano in the Pennsylvania governor’s race, whom Trump backed very late. Britt led Brooks by 16 points in the primary and back then was already at 45 percent — near the majority she would ultimately need in the runoff.
The result: a very establishment-oriented Republican — rather than a MAGA true-believer — is likely to be the next senator from Alabama. In fact, Trump once attacked Britt by tying her to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
It’s yet another misstep for Trump in Alabama. In a 2017 special election, he backed appointed Sen. Luther Strange, who lost the nomination to Roy Moore. Then he backed Moore in the special, despite allegations of Moore having pursued teenagers when he was in his 30s. Moore lost, too.
3. A new Senate youth movement?
Britt also stands out in another way: She’s just 40 years old. If and when she’s elected, she’ll almost definitely be the youngest woman in the Senate.
But she’s the latest young candidate with a good shot at joining that chamber of Congress. In Ohio, the GOP nominee is 37-year-old J.D. Vance. In Nevada, it’s 43-year-old Adam Laxalt. And in Arizona, Trump recently backed 35-year-old Blake Masters, who appears to be gaining in the race for the GOP nomination. Meanwhile, the Democratic battle to face Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is between two Democrats in their mid-30s, along with another who is 40. And Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alaska) GOP challenger, Kelly Tshibaka, is in her early 40s.
Were any of them to join the Senate, they would be among the youngest senators. Only two current senators are younger than 45 years old.
It’s too simple to say voters are looking for youth. But in a country in which nearly all the top leaders in government are in their 70s or even their 80s, our last two presidents have been the oldest ever elected, and the average age in the Senate is the highest ever, it’s something worth watching.
The millennials are coming, it seems. Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) is unlikely to be the only one for long.