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Figures across MSNBC, CNN, and more have begun criticizing Democrats for boosting Trump-backed Republicans as a political gamble with the potential to go very wrong for the party.
GOP Maryland gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox handily won the Republican nomination this week following an endorsement from former President Trump. Yet while the group is hardly ideologically in line with him, the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) spent over $1 million in ads to elevate Cox, in what pundits observe as a political trick to pit established Democrats against Trump’s picks they consider easier to beat.
But media figures have suggested that the decision by left-leaning groups is hypocritical, given their constant alarm sounding about the state of American democracy, as well as risky. Several pundits have pointed out that Trump, as a polarizing Republican nominee in 2016, and one who Democrats believed had no chance, won because of this same type of political miscalculation.
MSNBC host Chris Hayes reacted to the idea last week, calling it an “insane strategy.”
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Other figures appearing on the channel were no less weary and condemnatory of the Democrats’ new tactic. Frequent contributor Jason Johnson ridiculed the party, asserting that they should never be funding a “terrorist front,” as in the Trump wing of the Republican Party.
“One of these [candidates] is going to end up biting the Democratic Party on the nose. I don’t know which of these candidates, maybe it’s Kari Lake [in Arizona]maybe it’s Cox, one of these people’s going to end up winning and everyone’s going to be like ‘how did this happen’ and it’s like, yeah, the blood’s on your hands,” Johnson said.
During that same panel segment, Democratic strategist Matthew Dowd was also critical of the new political strategy, calling it a “significant risk,” and warned Democrats could be inadvertently helping to elect a “MAGA conservative” as governor.
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“Why on earth would we elevate candidates and try to diminish other candidates who are the same ones and elevate the crazy ones in the midst of this environment that we’re in today?” Dowd said.
It wasn’t just liberals making that conclusion. Former special assistant to President George W. Bush Scott Jennings came to a similar conclusion as Dowd and Johnson during a Wednesday appearance on CNN.
“Somewhere around the country one of these Democrat-backed election deniers is going to win a race that they—this is going to backfire somewhere, and the only people they’ll have to blame, the Democrats, will be themselves,” he said .
Jennings also questioned how Democrats can defend spending millions to get someone like Cox for the nomination while also calling Trump-backed Republicans a “threat to democracy.”
During CNN’s “Inside Politics,” guest Leigh Ann Caldwell of the Washington Post called the tactic a “new level of dirty politics.”
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CNN host SE Cupp called the move “complete negligence” during a discussion with John Avlon.
Brian Beutler, the editor-in-chief of Crooked Media, wrote a guest essay for the New York Times that a more “balanced approach” may better serve Democrats.
“…Adopting a coherent overall strategy by attesting honestly to the state of the Republican field as a whole, rather than singling out a few bad apples and spending millions of dollars to boost them,” Beutler wrote.
Only time will tell if Trump’s help of Cox in a state the former president lost handily in 2016 and 2020 will spur Cox to victory in November, or if the DGA’s strategy to prop him up will culminate in a Democratic triumph.
“Trump has had a mixed bag when it comes to gubernatorial races in open primaries. Obviously, he had more success in Maryland, pushing Cox over the finish line,” a veteran Republican strategist who asked to remain anonymous told Fox News.
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The earlier victories by Darren Bailey in Illinois and Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania, as well as the win by Cox on Tuesday, give Trump some bragging rights after the former president suffered setbacks in other high-profile Republican gubernatorial showdowns this primary season. A year and a half removed from the White House, Trump remains a powerful figure in the GOP as he continues to play a kingmaker’s role in party politics and repeatedly teases a 2024 White House run.
Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.