Although former President Donald Trump has returned to life as a private citizen, a fractured Republican Party still shows signs of a complicated future.
Next year’s midterm elections, for example, could spell trouble for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as establishment GOP senators reportedly prepare for retirement, the Washington Examiner reports.
“I’m not sure there’s anybody”
As reports have noted, McConnell has signaled some support for an impeachment effort against Trump in the apparent hopes of ridding his party of the former president’s influence.
The 2022 GOP primary races could serve as the first major test of Trump’s post-presidential influence within his party as a supportive populist wing battles the establishment faction that would rather see the 45th president fade into political memory.
Potentially flummoxing the desires of McConnell and others in his camp are the impending retirements of Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Richard Burr (R-NC), the Examiner reports.
Furthermore, diehard pro-Trump Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) has not ruled out a potential Senate bid. Even former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, a Portman ally, believes Jordan would likely be successful.
“Jim is well-positioned if in fact he’s ready to take that leap,” Blackwell said. “I’m not sure there’s anybody that would beat him.”
“Moved into GOP strongholds”
None of the outgoing senators are loyalists to the Trump agenda, and Toomey has publicly stated that the former president potentially committed “impeachable” offenses in riling up a mob of supporters ahead of the deadly riot on Capitol Hill earlier this month.
The Pennsylvania Republican was one of just five Senate Republicans who voted against a motion calling the impeachment effort against Trump unconstitutional, USA Today noted.
In any case, it seems clear that Trump’s influence within the GOP remains tangible and could help shape the makeup of Congress in coming years.
Republican political strategist Nicholas Everhart opined recently that the “presidential general election battlegrounds staples of Ohio and Florida in the 2000s have moved into GOP strongholds” in recent years, possibly indicating new opportunities for the party in those and other states.
With Trump hunkered down at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida golf resort, speculation has already begun to swirl around his supposed plots to seek revenge against those Republicans he views as insufficiently supportive of his administration.