For months, the media and the left — can anybody tell the difference? — have insisted that the 2018 midterm elections would be a referendum on President Donald Trump.
Confident that his election to the White House was just a fluke, many liberal pundits have declared that voters would flee from the president. So far, it looks like the opposite is happening.
A well-known career GOP politician has just received shattering news: Even though he’s the incumbent, a surprising challenger defeated him in the primary on Tuesday, sending a signal that establishment politicians are not safe.
Congressman and former Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina was beaten by State Rep. Katie Arrington in a close race.
“The Associated Press called the race just after midnight, with Arrington leading Sanford by 51-47 percent margin and 99 percent of precincts reporting. Sanford becomes the second incumbent to lose a reelection primary bid this cycle,” reported The Hill.
“Sanford had never lost an election until Tuesday, even after he was caught having an affair in 2009 while governor. But his willingness to question Trump, who is lionized by the GOP primary electorate, proved politically fatal,” that outlet continued.
That point is especially important. The one key difference between Sanford and Arrington is that he was an anti-Trump establishment player, while she sided with the president and was seen as closer to the people, having worked her way up from a restaurant job to national politics.
In other words, the pundits were dead wrong about the 2018 primary: Instead of fleeing from Trump, voters appear to be doubling-down on the “drain the swamp” candidates who are on the same page as the president.
The incumbent Sanford “repeatedly criticized Trump both during the election and since the president took office,” The Hill reported.
“In 2017, he told Politico that Trump ‘has fanned the flames of intolerance’ and has been one of the few GOP lawmakers to demand Trump release his tax returns,” the news magazine continued.
Now, it looks like voters are the ones who are “intolerant” of Sanford.
“That criticism became the centerpiece of Arrington’s campaign — she blasted Sanford as a ‘Never Trumper’ on the stump and in campaign ads, arguing that the district would be best served by a Trump ally instead of an antagonist,” The Hill explained.
In a last-minute endorsement, President Trump urged South Carolina residents to “Vote Katie” on Twitter.
“Mark Sanford has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA. He is MIA and nothing but trouble,” Trump wrote in his usual blunt style.
Mark Sanford has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA. He is MIA and nothing but trouble. He is better off in Argentina. I fully endorse Katie Arrington for Congress in SC, a state I love. She is tough on crime and will continue our fight to lower taxes. VOTE Katie!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2018
“I fully endorse Katie Arrington for Congress in SC, a state I love. She is tough on crime and will continue our fight to lower taxes. VOTE Katie!” the president tweeted.
So much for the tired and worn out “Trump hates women” rhetoric. Arrington is now set to become the first South Carolina female in Congress, if she is able to secure the seat in the November general election. The president won that district by a 12-point margin in 2016.
“I’ve been at the bottom of bottom, and now I’m on the highest of highs,” Arrington said after the results came in.
In the end, this primary may have been less about citizens rejecting Mark Sanford, and more about them being fed up with establishment politics overall.
That bodes well for upstart candidates who aren’t afraid to support the president … and it is a sign that the much-hated “swamp” of D.C. politicians better watch their backs in November.
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