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Murphy: Prominent Republicans defy Trump in primaries — it's Ron DeSantis' time

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The 2022 primaries, seeing noteworthy Republicans subverting the status quo of capitulating to Trumpism, has laid the crucial groundwork for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ path of ascension to the top of the 2024 GOP presidential ticket.

In the aftermath of the reprehensible developments at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in conjunction with a handful of Republicans severing alliances with President Donald Trump — it was still evident, in spite of the intra-party conflicts, that the former Commander in Chief was still in charge.

Those who dared oppose the former president were met with significant political retribution. Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney was stripped of her GOP conference chairmanship, others were faced with official censure attempts by their state parties and many lawmakers critical of Trump’s 2020 election claims found themselves pitted against opponents in their primaries who were heavily backed by the former president.

The kingmaker reputation that the president manufactured for himself was momentarily able to grant him an unprecedented unilateral grasp on the GOP. Many House Republicans began falling in line out of fear of losing their congressional influence or being ousted from their seat in a primary. Along with many potential 2024 hopefuls often remaining silent on a prospective candidacy to avoid “poking the bear” and facing any sort of retributions of their own.

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However, as nearly a dozen primaries so far have displayed, the idea of pledging extreme loyalty to Trumpism and the falsities of the 2020 election as the golden ticket to political ascension has presented a mixed bag of results. While there has been some success for Trump-backed candidates such as Senate hopefuls JD Vance in Ohio, and Herschel Walker in Georgia, the success has not come in absolute abundance.

This is evident in the fact that many other candidates whom Trump had heavily backed in their primaries have lost to the incumbent candidates that Trump heavily campaigned against. This was prominently showcased in the trouncing of Trump’s gubernatorial and secretary of state picks in Georgia.

The most significant piece to this puzzle however is that with the Trump endorsement losing the weight it used to carry, this has allowed many prominent Republicans and longtime Trump allies to pave their path of distancing themselves from the President. Former President George W. Bush along with former vice president and longtime Trump ally Mike Pence were among those opposing Trump by providing heavy support to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who is, as of now, one of Trump’s greatest political enemies.

In Alabama, Senate hopeful Mo Brooks had his Trump endorsement rescinded for suggesting that voters ought to move on from the 2020 election. In spite of Brooks making an enemy out of the president, Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rand Paul, R-Ky., some of Trump’s closest Senate allies, defied the president by stumping for Mo Brooks and paving the way for Brook’s comeback at the polls that saw him force a runoff against presumed front-runner Katie Britt.

As Republicans look to take back the White House in 2024, they need to distance themselves from the former president. And this newfound defiance among some of Trump’s closest party allies opens the candidacy door for the Republicans’ best shot at taking back the White House in 2024 — superstar Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The GOP distancing themselves from the former president maximizes their chances of winning the presidency. And with prominent Republicans now openly defying the former president, this makes prospects of moving into a new era for Republicans all the more likely.

Trump’s policies made the country better but his political achievements were negatively overshadowed by his character.

DeSantis, therefore, offers Republicans the perfect presidential candidate. A Navy and Iraq veteran. A former congressman. A popular governor of a key battleground state. A figure with extremely high national prominence. And most importantly, DeSantis offers lockstep alignment with the successful conservative policies of the Trump White House with the absence of the character baggage that comes with it.

America needs a conservative back in the White House to return the country to the economic prosperity and world stage prominence cultivated under the Trump Administration. However, Republicans need the most electable candidate possible. Ron DeSantis delivers this, but at 100 fewer decibels than the former president. And with Trump’s stronghold on the GOP slowly dwindling, the door is now open for the Florida governor to lay his political groundwork for a run at the national stage.

Murphy is a sophomore at Virginia Military Institute where he majors in International Studies and Political Science and is also a tight end on the VMI football team. He has had internship experiences in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate along with a multitude of U.S congressional campaigns. He aspires to attend law school after undergrad and pursue a career as a JAG Officer.