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It's never a bad day for another Gipper Madness story. And today we have two of them for your Friday enjoyment. Who loves ya, baby?

First up, Pennsylvania, where the primary to replace retiring Senator Pat Toomey has already turned into a nasty slapfest.

"Any candidate who wants to win in Pennsylvania in 2022 must be full Trump MAGA," Steve Bannon told Politico, seemingly oblivious of the fact that "full Trump MAGA" was on the ballot in November, and he lost. Other data points include the state's governor, lieutenant governor, and half its congressional delegation, all of whom are Democrats. But Steve Bannon has never been overly preoccupied with the truth, so here we are.

The former president's shadow looms large in Pennsylvania, with members of the state party voting this week to censure Toomey for his vote to impeach Trump.

Politico reports that the most important issue differentiating Republican candidates is their pro- or anti-Trump stance:

Joe Gale, a Montgomery County commissioner who was an early Trump backer in 2016, launched a bid for governor this week bashing Toomey. He said in his announcement that the senator has a "track record of betraying President Trump" and that his brother, Sean, who is running for the open Senate seat, "will be the exact opposite of RINO Pat Toomey."

Former congressman Ryan Costello, who retired after the state's highest court redistricted him out in 2018, occupies the anti-Trump corner and supports Toomey, both unpardonable sins in Pennsylvania's current GOP.

"Never-Trumper Ryan Costello is a sellout to the globalists," Bannon said of the man who voted with Trump more than 95 percent of the time in Congress.

"It would be foolish for any statewide candidate seeking the Pennsylvania GOP's endorsement to accept Sen. Toomey's endorsement or donations from him," former spokesman for the Pennsylvania GOP and current Trump backer Greg Manz told Politico. "I imagine a feckless hack like Ryan Costello would gladly align himself with Sen. Toomey, but he won't even place in the Senate primary. He's a non-factor ultimately."

To which Costello responded, "Before Greg Manz worked for Trump, he worked at the state party. Everyone back then and before used to make fun of him [because] he's a clown. No one respects him and a few years from now, he will probably be pumping gas in New Jersey. No one knows who he is. He just does what he's told like the little errand boy he is."

As for Bannon, "Sloppy Steve will say whatever he's told [because] he's forever indebted for his pardon," Costello sneered.

Gonna be an asskickin' behind the Sheetz! Delivered by John Fetterman, we're guessing.

Meanwhile in Virginia, Republicans are so busy knocking the crap out of each other that they can't even figure out how they're going to choose a candidate to run in this year's gubernatorial contest. (Yes, Virginia has off-off year elections, because racism.)

As Northern Virginia gets bluer and bluer, "full Trump MAGA" candidates have crashed and burned in statewide elections. In 2018, Nazi-wannabe Corey Stewart lost the US Senate race to Tim Kaine by a whopping 16 points. The year before that, former RNC stalwart Ed Gillespie tried to immigrant-bash his way into the governor's mansion, only to lose to Ralph Northam by 14 points. But Northam is term-limited out, and the last thing in the world the Virginia GOP wants is another nutjob carrying their banner this year.

Wait for it ...

There is little establishment support for Ms. Chase, who last month was censured by her State Senate colleagues and stripped of committee assignments after she called the rioters at the Capitol "patriots." She has recently been required to sit in a plexiglass box after refusing to wear a mask during Senate sessions. Ms. Chase has called it her "square of freedom."

That's from the New York Times piece this morning on the total panic inside the Virginia GOP at the prospect of state Senator Amanda Chase, who describes herself as "Trump in heels," winning the Republican nomination. In a regular primary with multiple declared candidates, Chase is likely to win a plurality of votes, but nothing approaching a majority. Which is why the party is trying desperately to shift to a convention, where its members could coalesce around someone less ridiculous.

To make matters worse, they only have until February 23 to tell state elections officials if they're going to hold a primary, and if they don't, any in-person gathering is likely to violate state COVID restrictions on mass gatherings. On top of which, Chase is not only suing the state GOP over its convention plans but she's threatening to go third party, which would torpedo Republicans' already dismal chances at taking back the statehouse.

"If they disenfranchise the people of Virginia, I will declare the Republican Party is dead," she said. "I will start the Patriot Party of Virginia. And I won't look back."

Even Trump's former Virginia state director, John Fredericks, described the state party as a "dumpster fire" to the AP. Trump spokesliar Jason Miller says it's "too early to tell" if the former president will get involved in the race, although he seems pretty hot to trot, especially if it means screwing with Mitch McConnell and the less extreme wing of the party.

But even if Trump confines himself to the golf course and doesn't try to play kingmaker, the chaos president has created a chaos Republican Party in his own image. Ronald Reagan's "Eleventh Commandment" was "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican," and the GOP managed to walk more or less in lockstep for 30 years. Trump's legacy is to turn the GOP into a never-ending food fight where the craziest candidate emerges from the primary with a shiner and his two front teeth knocked out.

Which doesn't make up for the last four years of disaster, but ... it's something.

[Politico / NYT]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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