Tea Party Ex Congressman Joe Walsh To Run Against Trump As Republican
Joe Walsh, the impetuous former Republican congressman, will announce a beyond-long-shot primary bid against President Trump in the coming days, the New York Times reports .
Walsh, who was elected out of Illinois as part of the Tea Party wave of 2010, then ousted by Democrat Tammy Duckworth two years later, made his name as a loud adversary of President Obama (while gaining some personal notoriety on the left for his inability to make child-care payments ). In the years since his defeat, Walsh has remained semi-prominent, sounding off on social media, hosting a conservative talk-radio show, and popping up now and again with an inflammatory comment or two , like the time he labeled President Obama a Muslim in 2016.
Walsh was initially warm to Donald Trump — he memorably promised an armed insurrection if Trump lost in 2016. But since then, he has become a critic of the president, hitting his breaking point last year. “[Trump] lost me for good in Helsinki, when he stood in front of the world and said, ‘I believe Putin and I don’t believe my fellow Americans,’” he told the Times .
In an op-ed for the paper last week, Walsh called Trump’s trade war “narcissistic” and denounced him for his racism, constant lying, and running up the national debt, a favorite Republican issue of yore. He also expressed regret for some of his past comments, including the one about Obama’s religion.
Joining Walsh on his quixotic mission is Bill Kristol, a onetime mighty Republican figure who has become an avatar of GOP Establishment impotence in the face of Trump’s party takeover.
Kristol and Walsh both argue that Walsh possesses the conservative bona fides that the only other primary challenger to Trump thus far — former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld — lacks. This is undoubtedly true. It’s also true that some previous primary candidates have found some success against weak incumbents ; think Ronald Reagan in 1976 or Pat Buchanan in 1992.
The problem for Walsh is that Trump is extremely popular with Republicans — his approval rating among Republicans hovers in the high 80s — and there’s little evidence that his popularity has much to do with his strict adherence to the conservative economic ideals that (supposedly) animated the Tea Party. Walsh may have been part of the Zeitgeist ten years ago, but as many Republicans who have crossed Trump and paid an electoral price can tell you, cutting spending is out and loyalty tests are in. Good luck, Joe.