The indictment of former President Donald Trump was only hours old and the details of the charges were not fully known. However, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice deployed his unwavering defense.
“I am so sorry”, Justice wrote under a letterhead with his name and an image of the sun peeking out from behind his state’s iconic mountains, “in the witch hunt against President Trump and his entire family. I am so sorry for the disrespect to us, OUR America.»
A conservative Democrat-turned-Republican affectionately referred to as «Big Jim» by the former president, Justice closed with a salute to Trump’s sons, his «hunting buddies Don Jr. and Eric» and parting words of encouragement to their father. : “Pour it into CHAMP!”
In the morning, Justice’s awe and outrage would erupt along with other statements of support. curated by Trump’s super PAC — a show of force by allies of the first former US president to face criminal charges.
The performance gesture by Justice, who is weighing a bid for a Senate seat that Republicans dream of in 2024, also underscores the influence Trump continues to have over the party. A year after Trump became heavily involved in competitive Senate primaries, in several cases elevating problematic nominees who later lost out in winnable states, potential candidates remain sensitive to alienating the former president and voters who look to him for guidance. in negative electoral contests. .
“The candidates and elected officials who quickly defended President Trump against politically motivated impeachment show that President Trump continues to be the most powerful voice and endorsement in the country,” said Emily Moreno Miller, CEO of the County Republican Party. Cuyahoga in Ohio and a former Trump campaign aide, told NBC News.
In Ohio, where Republican 2022 Senate hopefuls consistently engaged to impress Trump, those weighing in on a 2024 run against Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown were quick to put words of support on the record.
Businessman and possible candidate Bernie Moreno, Miller’s father, tweeted that Trump’s impeachment was «un-American and corrupt to the core». Another possible Republican candidate, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, advanced he inaccurate claim of «unprecedented crime» in Manhattan while berating District Attorney Alvin Bragg for pursuing Trump’s case.
“This is what happens when liberal activists take over the mechanisms we use to dispense justice,” LaRose tweeted. who once aligned with No Labels, a bipartisan organization known for embracing centrist politics and avoiding inflammatory rhetoric. «America is fed up.»
Even Matt Dolan, the only Republican Senate hopeful in Ohio who has avoided reaching out to Trump, offered words of sympathy in a statement distributed by his campaign.
«There is little question that the actions taken in New York today are politically motivated,» said Dolan, a state senator. “Let there be no mistakes, the Democrats and the media want 2024 to be nothing more than endless investigations and show trials. We need a Republican candidate who defeats Sherrod Brown, not someone who deliberately plays into his hands.»
On other Senate battlegrounds, Republicans displayed varying levels of loyalty and anger.
Kari Lake, a potential Senate candidate in Arizona who refuses to acknowledge that she lost her gubernatorial bid last year, released a statement accusing «the radical left» of launching «an attempt to destroy the 45th president and probably the number 47… Donald J. Trump.”
In Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano, another Trump supporter who lost a gubernatorial race last year and has stated interest in a 2024 Senate bid, tweeted that the «weaponization of our justice system against the leading Republican presidential candidate is unprecedented, bewildering and dangerous.» Later, Mastriano retweeted a follower who criticized Dave McCormick, who lost the state GOP Senate primary last year but could run again, for remaining silent on the issue.
Meanwhile, back at the West Virginia Department of Justice, the governor’s would-be main competitor for the Republican Senate nomination, Rep. Alex Mooney, fired his own statement of contempt, accusing Bragg of committing a «disgusting abuse of power.»
“This is an attempt to appease a radical liberal base that personally hates President Donald Trump and his supporters,” said Mooney, who unlike Justice, formally launched a Senate bid. “Only in a banana republic does a political party arrest a candidate from the opposing party.”