Post-Trump Republicans are looking for a new ally in 2022: Democrats

Country First, a PAC founded by a never-Trump Republican, is calling for disaffected Republicans, independents and voters of other parties to vote in GOP primaries this year

In the fight over the future of the Republican Party, some post-Trump Republicans are hoping voters outside the GOP will at least temporarily join their cause.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., has called for an alliance between Democrats, independents and Republicans to fight former President Donald Trump’s influence on his party in this year’s U.S. House elections.

Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the House Select Committee investigating Jan. 6, isn’t running for reelection this year, but his political action committee Country First is recommending that disaffected Republicans, independents, unaffiliated voters and even voters from other parties vote in Republican primaries this year in “safe” Republican districts to make sure pro-Trump candidates don’t win.

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“We have to be able to have uneasy alliances, as uneasy as they may be in this moment,” Kinzinger told The Associated Press in an interview announcing the strategy last week.

Country First is hoping to flood this year’s Republican primary with nontraditional voters, and its website has information about how to change party registration in all 50 states, plus deadlines for registering in time for the primaries.

Known as “party raiding,” a 2021 Princeton University Electoral Innovation Lab study of party registration in Utah found most people who became Republican ahead of the state’s latest primary were unaffiliated voters and not Democrats. Country First, however, sees the tactic as critical in defending Congress, as well as state legislatures and offices that administer elections, like secretaries of state.

“In these safe Republican districts, if we can disrupt the typical primary voter base by encouraging people who don’t normally participate in the Republican primary to show up, we have a chance to unrig the system,” the Country First website says.

Already, one top Democrat has crossed over to endorse one his Republican colleagues. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., endorsed Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Sunday during a joint appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Murkowski is the only Senate Republican who voted to impeach Trump last year who’s up for reelection in 2022, and she’s facing a Trump-endorsed challenger, former Alaska Department of Administration commissioner Kelly Tshibaka.

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“It’s hypocritical to basically work with a person day-in and day-out, and then when they’re in cycle, you’re supposed to be against them because they have an R or D by their name,” Manchin said. “If these are good people I’ve worked with, we’ve accomplished a lot, why in the world wouldn’t I want to work with them and continue to work with them?”

Post-Trump Republicans are also getting support from some within their party.

Following the Republican National Committee’s formal censure of Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Kinzinger last week, Senate Republicans including Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas and John Thune of South Dakota have pushed back, suggesting at the very least that the censure and related efforts relitigating Trump’s 2020 loss are not forward-looking. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that Jan. 6 was “a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent a peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election from one administration to the next,” and that the Republican Party shouldn’t pick and choose candidates. “We support all members of our party, regardless of their positions on some issues,” he said.

Former President George W. Bush is also getting involved. Bush donated late last year to Murkowski and Cheney, who sits on the Jan. 6 committee with Kinzinger. Bush gave $5,800 to Cheney and $2,900 to Murkowski.