While some Republicans clearly hoped that former President Donald Trump’s exit from the White House would mean a return to the pre-Trump norm for their party, it appears any such predictions were premature.
For his part, frequent Trump critic Sen. John Thune (R-SD) is reportedly mulling retirement despite being next in line to take over for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as GOP caucus leader.
“Down like a shot dog”
About a year ago, Trump threatened to back a primary challenger to Thune after the South Dakota senator said that the then-president’s claims of election fraud would go “down like a shot dog.”
Referring to Thune as “Mitch’s boy” and a “RINO,” or Republican in Name Only, Trump insisted that Thune represented weakness within the Republican Party’s leadership.
Now, McConnell and others in the party’s upper echelon are said to be trying to convince the party’s second-highest-ranking senator to seek another term next year.
“I certainly hope that he will run for re-election, and that’s certainly what I and others have been encouraging him to do all year long,” McConnell said.
Although Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is known as a Trump loyalist, he also has deep establishment ties and reportedly told Thune that the former president is not a threat, asserting: “Trump worries about his win-loss record.”
“Plow through this to the post-Donald Trump era”
Not only has Trump himself teased another White House bid, but there has also been some speculation that Republicans could attempt to install him as the House speaker if the GOP regains a majority on Capitol Hill next year.
Meanwhile, it is becoming increasingly clear that most of the Republican Party’s establishment wing is anxiously awaiting the day that Trump no longer dominates the political realm.
For her part, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) declared: “We’ve just got to plow through this to the post-Donald Trump era, which I believe is coming.”