Anxiety is growing among Republicans that Trump-aligned candidates who failed to cross the finish line last year could come back to haunt them in 2024, costing the GOP another chance at winning back power in Washington.
Kari Lake, who ran for Arizona governor in November and lost to Gov. Katie Hobbs (D), is weighing a bid for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (I-Ariz.) seat, while Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R) is considering a run against Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) after costing the GOP the governor’s mansion last year.
The list goes on: Republican Joe Kent is gunning for a rematch against Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-Wash.) after he was narrowly defeated in 2022; J.R. Majewski, who’s House campaign imploded last year after it was revealed that he misrepresented his military service, has floated another challenge to Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio); and Bo Hines has already filed paperwork to run again for a North Carolina House seat he lost in November.
The growing list of Trump loyalists weighing congressional runs has Republicans now warning against writing them off as possible GOP nominees once again.
“There are people out there that just won’t go away,” one Republican strategist familiar with Senate campaigns said. “All the folks out there that want to say, ‘Oh, they’re nobodies, they don’t matter’ — they need a reality check. Kari Lake doesn’t speak for the whole party, but she’s loud; she knows how to get attention. And, at least to an extent, it holds the rest of the party back.”
Lake, Mastriano and other candidates are among a cohort of Trump-aligned Republicans who have questioned or espoused baseless claims about the 2020 election. While they prevailed in their respective primaries, their candidacies ultimately cost the party key races in the general election in swing states like Arizona and Pennsylvania in a midterm year that was assumed to favor Republicans.
Concerns over the Republican Party’s candidate quality was brought to the fore ahead of the November midterms by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who cited that as reason for his bearish stance on the GOP’s chances of retaking the upper chamber. But it came too late after many of the party’s primaries had already wrapped up.
Those same concerns remain as the GOP now stares down the possibility of many of those same candidates running again. Some Republicans warn it would be a mistake for them to mount new campaigns.
“Some of these people are just a glutton for punishment,” said Arizona-based GOP strategist Barrett Marson.
“The only thing worse about being a loser is being a two-time loser. And people like Kari Lake and Doug Mastriano did not resonate with a broad swath of voters, and there’s nothing in the months since the election where they have changed or recognized their shortcoming and altered their strategy or message,” he continued.
In Pennsylvania, Republican strategist Vince Galko noted that GOP members in the state have also expressed anxiety about a possible Mastriano Senate bid.
There’s “certainly a lot of hand-wringing going on amongst party leaders and donors and the political establishment with the thought of Doug Mastriano running for U.S. Senate” because he starts off “with solid name I.D. and a very strong base and if he should be on the same ticket as former President Trump, that would possibly give him a leg up as well,” he said.
“I think I, like many Republicans — you have to get to the point where you want to win, right?” Galko added.
The split-screen between Trump-aligned candidates and more establishment Republicans has not only become apparent at a national level but also on a state and local level. Last month, Kristina Karamo, another Trump-aligned candidate who has questioned the 2020 election results and lost her secretary of state race in Michigan last cycle, was elected the Michigan GOP chair last month.
Over in Colorado, former state Rep. Dave Williams — an election denier who tried to get the anti-Biden phrase “Let’s Go Brandon” as part of his name on the ballot and lost his GOP House primary against Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) – was elected Colorado GOP chair earlier this month.
While Republicans believe that national groups can opt to work around state parties in key races, some acknowledge having pro-Trump populists as state party chairs can offer unnecessary headaches for viable candidates.
“The fact that the chairmen of some of these parties can get on TV and say crazy things and then force candidates to respond to those crazy things, well, that’s detrimental,” said a GOP consultant based in the West who requested anonymity to speak candidly.
Heading into 2024, both Senate and House GOP campaign arms have signaled that they’re handling their Republican primaries differently, with the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) already notably wading into the Indiana GOP Senate primary while the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is signaling it’ll stay out of the primaries.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), has also agreed to stay out of safe Republican districts that have an open-seat primary after reaching a deal with the conservative Club for Growth amid McCarthy’s bid to become Speaker earlier this year.
“Chairman Daines has been clear he’s willing to do whatever it takes to nominate candidates who can win both a primary and a general election,” said NRSC communications director Mike Berg.
Some Republicans say they’d like the House campaign arm to get involved in some of the House primaries.
“Of course they will be on offense in a lot of districts around the nation in addition to trying to retain incumbents, but I do think that they should … consider getting involved in some primaries, maybe not all of them,” said Dick Wadhams, a former Colorado GOP chairman. “But there are some that do make a big difference obviously.”
Wadhams worried that a repeat of pro-Trump candidates who lost their midterm races last year could “potentially deny Republican majorities from being elected in both the House and the Senate.”
But other Republicans believe some of those concerns can be addressed at a candidate-recruitment level. Six key players to watch in the banking crisis House Financial Services Committee schedules first hearing on collapse of SVB, Signature Bank
“There’s no use losing sleep over this. We just got to put our head down and focus on recruiting diverse and exciting candidates who can outrun the top of the ticket and unite the party,” said one Republican House strategist, using Reps. Juan Ciscomani (R-Ariz.) and John James (R-Mich.) as examples.
Overall, many Republicans are signaling that the party and its candidates need to offer a forward-looking vision to voters and not focus on past elections.
“Elections are always about the future,” said Dallas Woodhouse, a longtime Republican operative and executive director of the conservative South Carolina Policy Council. “And I think the people that put forward a forward-looking, optimistic vision for the future are going to be in a lot better shape. Voters are craving that, I think, without question.”
Microsoft Bing now uses OpenAI’s DALL-E A.I. to turn text into images
OpenAI displayed on screen with Microsoft Bing double photo exposure on mobile, seen in this photo illustration.
Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images
Microsoft on Tuesday added a new artificial intelligence-powered capability to its search slate: AI-generated visuals.
The new tool, powered by OpenAI’s DALL-E, will allow users to generate images using their own words, such as asking for a picture of “an astronaut walking through a galaxy of sunflowers,” the company explained in a press release.
The feature, called “Bing Image Creator,” will be available to Bing and Microsoft Edge users in preview. It will first roll out in the search engine’s “Creative Mode.” Eventually, it’ll become fully integrated into the Bing chat experience, the company added.
On Microsoft Edge, the image generator will become available in the browser’s search bar.
Microsoft has bolstered its AI-assisted search functions in recent months, first announcing AI-powered updates to Bing and Edge in early February.
Last week, the tech giant also announced it would add its generative AI technology to some of its most popular business apps, including Word, PowerPoint and Excel.
Excitement around the promise of generative AI has been driven in large part by the runaway success of ChatGPT, which was released by Microsoft-backed OpenAI in November.
As Microsoft’s new capabilities became available to users, some beta testers identified issues, including threats, unhelpful advice and other glitches.
Microsoft says it’s taken steps to curb the misuse of Bing Image Creator by working with OpenAI to develop safety measures for the public.
These safety measures include controls “that aim to limit the generation of harmful or unsafe images,” plus a modified Bing icon that will be added to the bottom left corner of images, with the goal of clarifying the images were created using AI, Microsoft said.
Microsoft’s tiered approach to Bing Image Creator’s rollout is also inspired by the iterative approach the company attempted with past releases.
“People used it in some ways we expected and others we didn’t,” Microsoft said of Bing’s new capabilities. “In this spirit of learning and continuing to build new capabilities responsibly, we’re rolling out Bing Image Creator in a phased approach by flighting with a set of preview users before expanding more broadly.”
Russia says it scrambled fighter jet to intercept two US bombers over Baltic Sea
A Russian Su-35 fighter jet was scrambled to intercept two US strategic bombers over the Baltic Sea, Russia’s defence ministry has said.
“Two air targets flying in the direction of the state border of the Russian Federation” were detected by radar on Monday, it said in a statement on the social media platform Telegram.
The aircraft were identified as two US Air Force B-52 strategic bombers “flying in the direction of the Russian Federation’s state border”.
A Su-35 fighter jet took to the air to prevent a border violation, the ministry continued.
“After the foreign military aircraft moved away from the Russian Federation state border, the Russian fighter returned to its base airfield,” it added.
The National Defense Center of the Russian Federation said: “The flight of the Russian fighter was carried out in strict accordance with the international rules for the use of airspace.
“Violations of the state border of the Russian Federation are not allowed.”
The US has not yet responded to the claim.
It comes after the crash of a US military surveillance drone into the Black Sea on 14 March after it was intercepted by Russian jets.
The US Air Force released a video it said showed a Russian jet intercepting the drone and dumping fuel on it over the Black Sea.
I was a fighter pilot – this is how the US drone crash happened
It said two Russian Su-27 jets flew close to the MQ-9 Reaper before one hit its propeller and forced remote operators to crash it into the ocean.
The incident highlighted the increasing risk of direct confrontation between the superpowers as fighting continues in nearby Ukraine.
American officials accused the Russian pilots of flying in a “reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner”.
Moscow denied the jets behaved dangerously and said they didn’t come into contact with the drone, claiming it crashed due to “sharp manoeuvring”.
What happens if Donald Trump is arrested?
Donald Trump has claimed he is set to be arrested over an alleged hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
If right in his assertion, the former US president could be charged by authorities in New York within days.
But what will happen if he is indicted – and how will both sides present their case?
What Trump has said
In a post on his Truth Social platform on Saturday, Mr Trump said he expected to be arrested on Tuesday and urged his supporters to protest against the authorities if he is detained and indicted.
He published a long statement describing the investigation as a “political witch-hunt trying to take down the leading candidate, by far, in the Republican Party”.
“I did absolutely nothing wrong,” he said, before criticising a “corrupt, depraved and weaponised justice system”.
However, it’s worth noting a spokesperson for Mr Trump said he had not been notified of any pending arrest.
The case – that the Republican made a payment to Ms Daniels towards the end of the 2016 presidential campaign in exchange for her silence over an alleged affair – is one of several related to Mr Trump.
Other ongoing cases include a Georgia election interference probe and two federal investigations into his role in the 6 January insurrection in the US Capitol.
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What Trump will do
Mr Trump has accused Manhattan’s district attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, of targeting him for political gain, and may try to argue for the dismissal of the charges on those grounds.
He could also challenge whether the statute of limitations – five years in this instance – should have run out.
But in New York, the statute of limitations can be extended if the defendant has been out of state – Trump may argue that serving as US president should not apply.
Politically, how any possible indictment may affect Mr Trump’s chances in the 2024 presidential election is unclear.
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He could be the first former US president to face criminal prosecution – right as polls show him leading other potential rivals for the Republican nomination, including controversial Florida governor Ron DeSantis.
This could lead to the unprecedented situation in which Mr Trump would stand trial as he campaigns in 2024.
If elected, he would not have the power to pardon himself of criminal charges.
In any case, Mr Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina told CNBC on Friday that he would surrender if charged. If he refused to come voluntarily, prosecutors could seek to have him extradited from Florida, where he currently lives.
In an ironic twist, as governor, Mr DeSantis would typically have to give formal approval for an extradition.
Trump arrest ‘would be politically motivated’
What prosecutors will do
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has spent nearly five years investigating Mr Trump.
It has presented evidence to a New York grand jury that relates to a £114,000 ($130,000) payment to Ms Daniels during the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign.
It is alleged the payment was given in exchange for Ms Daniels’ silence about an affair between her and Mr Trump.
Mr Trump has denied the affair and accused Ms Daniels of extortion.
Any indictment by the district attorney’s office would require Mr Trump to travel to its New York office to surrender.
But Mr Trump’s lawyers will likely arrange a date and time with authorities, as it is a white-collar case. And then his mugshot and fingerprints would be taken before appearing for arraignment in court.
Mr Trump could also be charged with falsifying business records – typically classed as a misdemeanour – after he reimbursed his former attorney Michael Cohen for the payments, falsely recorded as legal services.
To elevate it to a felony, prosecutors would have to show Mr Trump falsified records to cover up a second crime.
In any case, legal experts have estimated that any trial of the former US president would be more than a year away.
That’s why if it happened, it could coincide with the final months of a 2024 election in which Mr Trump seeks a controversial return to the White House.
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