President Donald Trump is ramping up pressure on disloyal Republicans who rode his coattails to power.
The president called for a primary against Sen. John Thune (R-SD) this week, adding to a number of Republicans who Trump has threatened for opposing his election challenges, the Washington Examiner reported.
Trump threatens primaries
For weeks, Trump has been on a tear slamming “weak” and “RINO” Republicans who have recognized Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as the rightful winner of the 2020 election, which Trump says was “rigged.”
Perhaps no figure has faced more criticism than the governor of Georgia, which has been the center of much election drama. Trump has been wailing on Brian Kemp, saying he is “shamed” to have endorsed the “hapless” official while floating a primary challenge from Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) at a rally in early December.
This week, Trump warned Senate Majority Whip Thune that his career is “over” because “South Dakota doesn’t like weakness” after Thune said that Trump’s election challenges are going “down like a shot dog,” the Examiner reported.
Trump in turn suggested a primary for “Mitch’s boy.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has also acknowledged Biden as the victor. “Republicans in the Senate so quickly forget. Right now they would be down 8 seats without my backing them in the last Election,” Trump tweeted.
Trump is essentially driving a wedge between the Republican base, which overwhelmingly agrees with his assertion that the election was stolen, and Republican lawmakers and officials who have appeared less eager to “stop the steal.” McConnell and Thune have pushed back on any effort to protest an Electoral College win for Biden being certified by Congress on Jan. 6, Axios reported.
Ohio Republican Gov. Mike Dewine, who like Kemp was elected in the 2018 midterms with Trump’s help, has also provoked a primary threat from Trump, who suggested in November that the governor’s re-election would be “hotly contested” and asked for volunteers to step in.
Trump has faced pushback, with Kemp saying this week that he couldn’t “care less” about Trump’s threats. Meanwhile, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) often described as a rising GOP star, shot back at Trump, calling the embattled Thune a “friend.”
Divide between Trump, GOP
Polling suggests Republicans eager to move on from the Don may have some trouble: he is the favorite to run in 2024 among Republican voters, Politico reported.
Trump’s election grievances come as the president has broken with his party on significant legislative issues, vetoing the National Defense Authorization Act and threatening to torpedo a “disgrace” of a coronavirus stimulus while demanding $2,000 stimulus checks for Americans struggling through an economic crisis.
McConnell has threatened to come back to Washington to override Trump’s veto, according to The Hill.