- The Washington Times
Saturday, May 23, 2020

Democratic lawmakers in battleground states have unexpectedly broken ranks in recent weeks to heap praise on President Trump, stirring up turmoil in their party.

Republicans see those rebels as a good sign for Mr. Trump and down-ballot races on Election Day in November.

Democrats in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Michigan suffered pushback for their pro-Trump rhetoric within the last month. The phenomenon is all the more startling because those are Trump-won states that Democrats hope to take back in 2020.

The disorder suggests state Democrats are wanting to distance themselves from the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, said Lenze Morris, press secretary for the Republican State Leadership Committee.

“State Democrats don’t want to be stuck in the basement with Joe Biden — and they’re willing to defect from their party to avoid being dragged down by his fumbling, bumbling campaign about nothing,” she told The Washington Times. “But even their sudden epiphanies won’t hide their long records of shilling for Washington’s radical left.”

The pro-Trump rebels include Michigan state Rep. Karen Whitsett, who represents a Detroit district.

Mrs. Whitsett praised the president at the White House after she recovered from COVID-19 after taking hydroxychloroquine, a decades-old treatment for malaria and lupus that Mr. Trump has touted as a prophylactic or treatment for coronavirus.

There is no solid clinical data on its efficacy, however. A new study of 100,000 patients around the world released in the journal Lancet Friday found the drug did not help coronavirus patients and were tied to a greater risk of death and heart rhythm problems.

As a result of her White House appearance, a Michigan Democratic organization censured her.

Last week, Mrs. Whitsett filed a federal lawsuit against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and several other Democrats, claiming violations of free speech and defamation.

In Georgia, state Rep. Vernon Jones broke with his Democratic Party by saying he would endorse Mr. Trump. He cited the president’s handling of criminal justice reform and support for historically black colleges.

After Democrats condemned his endorsement, Mr. Jones resigned but then quickly changed his mind, saying he would serve out the remainder of his term.

“I will not allow the Democrats to bully me into submission. I will not let them win,” he posted on Twitter.

In Pennsylvania, county Democratic leaders rose up to castigate the party’s highest-ranking politician, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California. They also slammed Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who led the impeachment effort against Mr. Trump.

It is part of a “Democrats for Trump movement,” according to a Washington Post report, that is causing headaches for the party’s county and state leaders in the Keystone State.

In Georgia, a state the Democrats dream of turning blue, there are signs Republicans remain firmly ensconced.

A poll commissioned by the Republican State Leadership Committee showed Republican Gov. Brian Kemp received high remarks for moving to reopen the government after the pandemic shutdown and stay-at-home order.

About 56% of Georgians approve of the job Mr. Kemp is doing as governor, according to the survey, and Republicans were selected 47-42% for the state House.

Antjuan Seawright, a Democratic strategist, said polls are simply a snapshot in time and can change based on who is being asked the questions.

“I don’t buy into that — what I do know is people in Georgia, particularly African Americans in Georgia — are disproportionately impacted by the virus and the quick, fast and hurried re-opening of Georgia,” he said.

Mr. Seawright also dismissed the idea of a few state Democrats breaking with their party to praise Mr. Trump as a negative indication for Democrats in November.

“A few voices in the choir does not dictate the volume or the tone of the entire choir,” he said.

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