Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, lost to incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) in Georgia’s Senate run-off race on Tuesday.
Former Trump adviser Mercedes Schlapp reacted to the “disappointing” result by saying it should be viewed more broadly as a “wake-up call” for the Republican Party, the Tampa Free Press reported.
What she meant was that the GOP needed to do a much better job of matching the success of the Democratic Party in terms of embracing early and mail-in voting instead of relying solely on Election Day voting as well as increasing enthusiasm and driving turnout among the base voters with widely accepted and experienced candidates.
A “disappointing night” for the GOP
Schlapp appeared Wednesday on Fox Business Network’s “Mornings with Maria” program with host Maria Bartiromo to discuss the Georgia Senate run-off election and lessons that ought to be learned from the 2022 midterm elections more broadly, the Daily Caller reported.
“Look, it’s a disappointing night for Republicans, and this is what we’ve seen, especially on the Senate races, where we lost these battleground states like Arizona, like Pennsylvania, and a lot of it was we had talented candidates running but they were novice politicians,” Schlapp said.
The former director of strategic communications for Trump was referencing the obvious trend in which predominately inexperienced “outsider” candidates who’d been hand-picked or endorsed by the former president ultimately lost what many analysts and pundits had assumed were winnable Senate seats, including Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, as mentioned, but also New Hampshire and, to a lesser extent, Nevada.
Schlapp continued, “There was definitely a sense coming from the voters that they were looking for something a little more, what I would call vanilla, more incumbent-type of candidates that have run statewide before.”
“This is a wake-up call for the Republican Party”
As for lessons learned, Schlapp, who previously served in former President George W. Bush’s White House and is currently a CPAC senior fellow, told Bartiromo, “I also think that there’s a huge discrepancy that’s happening right now between the Democrats and Republicans.”
“The Democrats are outraising Republican candidates, the Democrats have a much more organized get-out-the-vote efforts, much more focused on the early voting, and really driving the mail-in ballot process much more effectively than the Republicans,” she explained.
“This is a wake-up call for the Republican Party, where in essence they failed to really have an effective, get-out-the-vote effort and really just play the Democrats at their game,” Schlapp added. “And I — and I think that this is something that has to be fixed right now as we’re entering into the presidential election season.”
GOP needs to make some major changes to its electoral game
Schlapp is not alone in suggesting that the Republican Party needs to seriously step up its game to better compete with Democrats in future elections, even if it means embracing and taking full advantage of existing electoral processes — such as ballot harvesting where legal, absentee mail-in, and early voting — that the party otherwise generally opposes.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), who nearly pulled off an upset in New York’s gubernatorial race and briefly considered mounting a bid to be the next Republican National Committee chair, has said as much in multiple tweets since the November elections.
In a late-November tweet, Zeldin wrote, “The GOP needs to retool and transform in preparation for 2024: fundraising and expenditures, comms and messaging, data, ballot law work, voter reg, uniting, outreach, organizing and collaborating, field work, and more. It’s the only way to succeed with everything at stake.”
As for things like ballot harvesting, where party activists collect and turn in mail-in ballots on behalf of others, the New York congressman also tweeted, “States shouldn’t be passing laws to allow ballot harvesting, but wherever states decide to do it anyways, Republicans need to start doing ballot harvesting better than Democrats and make those Democrats deeply regret legalizing ballot harvesting in the first place.