On Tuesday, the most senior Republican senator and a representative both announced retirement, and the GOP’s only serious candidate for governor of New York got cold feet.
As Donald Trump’s popularity has cratered and public fury against Republicans in Congress begins to generate signs of a wave election, prominent GOP politicians all around the country have been bowing out of runs for office.
But on Tuesday, Republicans faced an absolute bloodbath.
First, Pennsylvania Rep. Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, declared that he would be retiring. Shuster used the ridiculous excuse that he would be too busy helping Donald Trump craft his infrastructure plan to run for re-election.
Shortly after that news broke, Utah’s Orrin Hatch — president pro tempore of the Senate, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, a key architect of the GOP tax scam, and one of Trump’s most fervent (and embarrassing) supporters — gave in to months of rumors and constituent pressure, and announced he also would not seek re-election this year.
The GOP now hopes to elect Mitt Romney — who has been a staunch critic of Trump — in his place, and he is immediately a favorite due to Utah’s partisan lean. But in losing Hatch, Republicans lose one of their most seasoned, ruthless architects of partisan policy.
As if all that were not enough, Republicans in New York received a blow with the announcement that former financier and presidential adviser Harry Wilson will not run for governor.
Wilson had previously taken serious steps toward running, with stump speeches and a pledge to the GOP to spend $10 million of his own money, and was widely regarded as Republicans’ only serious shot to win in New York. The fact that Democrats recently flipped a county executive seat in his own town could not have done much for his spirits.
Tuesday’s announcements are a brutal reminder of the political climate Republicans will run into this fall. And a growing number of them are simply deciding they do not want to face it.