Andrew Gillum, Martha McSally, and the lessons of Tuesday's primaries

Can Democrats learn from Andrew Gillum's surprising triumph in Florida?

Andrew Gillum
(Image credit: REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry/File Photo)

There are two worthwhile takeaways from Tuesday's primary elections. One is that despite the best efforts of its leadership in Congress, the Democratic Party could become a viable force in national politics again. The other is that the recent conviction of Paul Manafort, the guilty pleas of Michael Cohen, and countless other scandals related to President Trump and his administration are of very little interest to many voters.

Even as his administration descends ever further into the hell of palace gossip, it is clear that President Trump enjoys very wide support among the Republican base. This was clear not least of all in Arizona, the home state of the late Sen. John McCain, where voters were faced with selecting candidates to run for the seat being vacated by GOP Sen. Jeff Flake. McCain, Flake, and Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee have been the president's three most prominent Republican critics in the upper chamber. In a three-way race involving a deranged ex-sheriff convicted of contempt of court and pardoned by the president in August 2017 and a state senator who thought that jokes about the disease from which McCain died were a good way to highlight her opposition to "political correctness" within two days of the man's death, voters chose to endorse Rep. Martha McSally, a sitting congresswoman who ran on a pro-Trump, anti-immigration platform. Some cynical critics will surely suggest that Arpaio's loss is Trump's too, but this is nonsense. Indeed, hours before polls closed the president had already taken to Twitter to congratulate McSally on her then-hypothetical victory and mock Flake.

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Matthew Walther

Matthew Walther is a national correspondent at The Week. His work has also appeared in First Things, The Spectator of London, The Catholic Herald, National Review, and other publications. He is currently writing a biography of the Rev. Montague Summers. He is also a Robert Novak Journalism Fellow.