Our book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses state and congressional electionsMichael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, Isaac Arnsdorf and Marianna Sotomayor at WP:Targeting Cawthorn was part of a larger behind-the-scenes effort by top GOP donors and senior strategists to purge the influence of Republican factions that seek disruption and grandstanding, often at the expense of their GOP colleagues. The political machine around McCarthy has spent millions of dollars this year in a sometimes secretive effort to systematically weed out GOP candidates who could either cause McCarthy trouble if he becomes House speaker or jeopardize GOP victories in districts where a more moderate candidate might have a better chance at winning.
The allies close to McCarthy have sometimes taken steps to conceal their efforts, as they did in the Cawthorn case, with money passing from top GOP donors through organizations that do not disclose their donors or have limited public records, federal disclosures show.
In safe Republican districts, controversial Republicans like former New York state party chair Carl Paladino, Florida state Rep. Anthony Sabatini and Trump-endorsed congressional candidate Joe Kent have been targeted after distancing themselves from McCarthy’s leadership and echoing extreme claims. McCarthy’s team has also gone to work to protect several GOP incumbents from far-right challenges, campaign finance records show.
As somebody who has made self-aggrandizing pitches about my side’s political genius for political reporters, I know how to leverage a “shoot what flies, claim what falls” ethos to make yourself look brilliant. As such, the structure of the material in the Post article looked familiar to me. And at the 30,000-foot level there is some modest evidence for the case being made by McCarthy.
But once you start to wade into the details . . . well . . . color me unconvinced.
Where was Big Bad Kevin in the primaries against Majorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Paul Gosar, and the rest? Not only are they still in Congress, but the Coup Squad was out there throughout campaign season this year, putting their stamp of approval on candidates nationwide—not through the furtive Super PAC money laundering that Kevin has to employ to avoid blowback, but right out in the open!
On the other end of the spectrum—defense of the Trump impeachers in his conference—Kevin was also an abysmal failure. In the primaries where he did try to engage, he was ineffectual at best. In other cases, like those of Liz Cheney and Peter Meijer, the incumbent members of his conference were hung out to dry.