About a year after the Republican establishment declared President Trump’s political career all but over, it appears the shoe is on the other foot.
A top enemy of Trump’s, Sen. John Thune (R-SD), is contemplating leaving politics — despite being favored to take over Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) job as caucus leader — because of Trump.
Anti-Trump Republican may leave Senate
The New York Times was the first to report that Thune, who is the second-highest-ranking Republican senator, is seriously thinking about retiring after 2022.
Ironically, the news comes about a year after Trump declared Thune’s career “over” and threatened a primary in response to the senator’s remark that Trump’s voter fraud claims were going “down like a shot dog.”
At the time, Trump was at war with Republican leaders, particularly McConnell, who made no secret of their desire to restore the old party establishment to power and banish Trump from Washington for good.
Thune was not among the GOP senators who voted to ban Trump from holding public office after the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, but he said the Democrats’ impeachment case was “strong” and complained of “cancel culture” from Trump supporters, as Axios noted.
Almost a year later, Trump is continuing to dominate American politics in exile as he surpasses Biden in the polls, despite a social media ban, keeping Democrats — and so-called RINOs — awake at night.
GOP pines for business as usual
Thune faces a primary in June, according to Fox, and although Trump has not endorsed a candidate, a word from the former president could be the end for a man Trump once described as “Mitch’s boy.” But Republicans, including McConnell, are eager to convince Thune to stick around.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), an establishment Republican who has developed ties with Trump, has tried to reassure Thune that Trump is not a threat to him. “Trump worries about his win-loss record,” Graham said, according to The New York Times.
Fox News reports that Thune will make his plans known before the New Year.
While Republicans are clearly eager to return to business as usual, it appears they won’t get their wish for long as Trump floats a 2024 White House bid.
“We’ve just got to plow through this to the post-Donald Trump era, which I believe is coming,” Susan Collins, a Republican senator from Maine, said, according to the Times.