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The recriminations about the likely loss of two GOP incumbents in Georgia will ripple through Republican circles in a display of total acrimony. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but the strong message from D.C. Republicans will be: If not for Donald Trump complaining about election fraud, this would’ve gone differently. And they’re right — you could say that about anything in the past five years! — though possibly not in the sense they mean.

What I heard repeatedly from people on the ground in Georgia was: Holding out hope that their re-election would make some difference for Trump motivated more pro-Trump voters to get out for David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler than the stolen-election talk turned off. Perdue and Loeffler knew they needed those voters, and they talked the best populist game they could — they just couldn’t get enough of them to win without Trump himself on the ballot. It’s telling that the outcome for Perdue, in particular, could be the 30,000 votes or so he lagged in newly-elected Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s district.

Senate elections are now effectively nationalized to a greater degree than ever before. Presuming Perdue’s loss, a mere six senators — three Democrats, three Republicans — now occupy seats in states won by the opposing party’s presidential candidate. The whole thing creates a Republican version of the Obama coalition talk from 2009-2016: Can you get the Trump coalition together and build on it in these states without Trump on the ballot? Is that the coalition you want? In Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Republicans have two years to figure that out.

The attitude from Washington Republicans in advance of this election was total confidence in their ground game. This confidence was reiterated in the past few weeks as a reason why, despite it polling as an 80-20 issue, Mitch McConnell was right to deny a vote on bumping stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000. Internals I saw for both candidates were trending ahead up to the point where the stimulus checks controversy happened. The choice to leave it as a live issue benefiting Democrats, who will now almost assuredly pass it, still befuddles me.

Republicans contacted millions over and over, knocked on all the doors, pulled out all the stops. And it’s true, they did all that. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned in recent cycles, the reason people go out and vote isn’t just because they’ve been touched 10 times. The candidates matter, and you can’t just roll out a billionaire basketball team owner in a baseball cap and say, “Vote for her and like it.”

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For the door-knockers, a repeated experience in Georgia was talking to voters who viewed these two candidates purely as vehicles to stand against a Biden-Harris agenda. The level of excitement about Perdue and Loeffler that was unique to them was basically nil. Gov. Brian Kemp, having overthought his choice — and overruling Trump’s preference — in naming Loeffler, a candidate with a wooden presence and no charisma whose most defining trait became ethically questionable stock trades, had to learn the hard way that self-funding isn’t that valuable if the candidate is incapable of the most basic politicking.

Perdue is in many ways the harder loss to feel. Unlike Raphael Warnock, Jon Ossoff won’t be up for re-election again in two years, and his thin resume and lack of charisma should’ve been easier to beat. But as with Loeffler, the populist moment just didn’t wear well for the wealthy businessman. It is not an exaggeration to say that Warnock carried Ossoff over the finish line against him.

As for Kemp — bloodied from his feud with Trump and his decidedly unpopular coronavirus response — now heads into his re-election facing the prospect of a legitimate primary challenge (perhaps from the denied Rep. Doug Collins) and an ebullient Democratic machine ready to Make Stacey Abrams Governor Again. So that will be fun to watch.

Meanwhile, the biggest winners in Washington conventional wisdom will be the “centrists” such as Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, and Mitt Romney, whose votes theoretically become all the more important in a Senate headed for a 50-50 divide. In actuality, the 50-50 split will incentivize more gridlock on a host of matters actually important to voters, and more ease of passage for items important to Washington lobbyists with good access to the Biden-Harris administration, which should certainly serve to please everyone. The biggest impact will likely end up being in the arena of nominations, where Biden is now free to name more controversial choices to key positions.



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South Carolina House passes bill that would prohibit most abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected

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The South Carolina House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 79-35 to pass legislation that would prohibit most abortions. 

The bill must pass through a procedural vote in the House on Thursday prior to heading to GOP Gov. Henry McMaster who has indicated that he will sign it, according to the Associated Press. Two Republicans voted against the legislation while two Democrats voted for it. The state Senate passed the measure last month. 

The bill requires doctors to carry out an ultrasound to check for a fetal heartbeat and if a heartbeat is identified an abortion can only be performed in certain circumstances.

The legislation would not penalize a woman for obtaining an unlawful abortion, though the individual responsible for performing the abortion could face consequences.

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The outlet reported that other states have approved similar or even more stringent abortion prohibitions which could be implemented if the Supreme Court throws out the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. All of the other states’ abortion bans are currently entangled by court challenges and if the South Carolina bill is approved it will likely face litigation that prevents it from going into effect, according to the AP.

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Son of prominent conservative leader Bozell arrested in connection with Capitol siege

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Leo Brent Bozell IV, the son of conservative leader L. Brent Bozell III, is facing federal charges in connection with the Jan. 6 breech of the U.S. Capitol.

Bozell is charged with obstructing an official proceeding, entering a restricted building and disorderly conduct, according to a federal complaint unsealed Tuesday.

The official affidavit includes photos and videos that appear to show Bozell inside of the U.S. Capitol Building, including the Senate chambers.

At least one photo shows Bozell wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with a logo for a Christian school at which he once coached girls basketball, according to the Huffington Post.

The FBI obtained a photo of him posing with a student of a school, in Hershey, Pa.

His father founder, who founded the Media Research Center and other conservative groups, has condemned the riots, saying, “You can never countenance police being attacked. You cannot countenance our national capitol being breached like this. … I think it is absolutely wrong,” according to NewsBusters.

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Trump calls Limbaugh ‘legend,’ in first TV interview since Senate trial

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Former President Trump on Wednesday afternoon praised the career of conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, who has died of cancer.

“He loved his country, and he loved his fans,” Trump said on the Fox News Channel. “He is a legend.”

The interview was Trump’s first since the conclusion of his Senate impeachment trial last week.

Limbaugh’s wife, Kathryn, announced her husband’s death earlier in the day on his radio show. He had been diagnosed about a year ago with Stage-IV lung cancer. He was 70.

The president also said he had a personal friendship with Limbaugh, who was an early supporter of his 2016 presidential bid and who, like Trump, thought the president won reelection in 2020.

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Trump also pointed out that Limbaugh was a provocateur in his views about conservative politics that often sparked backlash from liberals and other critics. 

Trump last year in his State of the Union address awarded Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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