“Three weeks ago, Donald Trump was radioactive, even in the top quarters of his own party. Now, those same Republicans are convinced they can’t live without the energy he gives off, even if it proves toxic,” Politico reports.
“The GOP is engaged in a delicate dance to keep Trump and his base of voters in the fold while not seeming too beholden to him. Without Trump’s cooperation, the party fears losing a fundraising giant just as it pivots to a midterm cycle in which it hopes to regain majorities in each chamber of Congress.”
“The verdict is clear: The vast majority of Republicans will stand firm with former President Trump. The next phase is clear, too: Republicans are rallying around a common grievance that big government, big media and big business are trying to shut them up, shut them out and shut them down,” Axios reports.
“The post-Trump GOP, especially its most powerful media platforms, paint the new reality as an existential threat. This means political attacks are seen — or characterized — as assaults on their very being.”
The Republican National Committee is planning to invite former President Donald Trump to its upcoming spring donor meeting, Politico reports. The RNC is also expected to invite other potential 2024 candidates and Republican leaders to the retreat, which is to be held in Palm Beach, Florida, April 9 to 11.
RNC chair Ronna McDaniel encouraged Donald Trump not to form a third party, the Patriot Party, as he had been discussing, the Washington Post reports. “The embittered Trump made no promises.”
“Donald Trump has mused about forming a third party. But it’s not clear why he needs one,” the AP reports. “As he faces an impeachment trial for inciting insurrection, state and county Republican Party committees have rushed to Trump’s defense — highlighting the former president’s firm control of the GOP machinery.”
“Former President Donald Trump is focusing his political energy on targeting Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the third-ranking House Republican, who voted for Trump’s impeachment earlier this month,” CNN reports.
“Trump has repeatedly questioned his Republican allies about efforts to remove Cheney from her leadership position and run a primary candidate against her. He has also been showing those allies a poll commissioned by his Save America PAC that purports to show that Cheney’s impeachment vote has damaged her standing in Wyoming, even urging them to talk about the poll on television.”
“Rep. Matt Gaetz fired off a barrage of insults against his colleague Liz Cheney during a rally in her home state of Wyoming on Thursday — a raw embodiment of the cleavage across the Republican Party following President Donald Trump’s exit from office,” Politico reports. “Gaetz’s rally flouted Republican leadership’s appeal to temper the intraparty conflict. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy urged members of his caucus Wednesday to lay off the attacks on each other.”
“But Gaetz held back no punches as he attacked his colleague.”
COLORADO 3rd CD–State Rep. Donald Valdez is reportedly considering a bid against freshman Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert, one of several Democrats who’ve surfaced as possible challengers. Last year, Valdez briefly sought the 3rd Congressional District (at the time represented by Republican Scott Tipton, whom Boebert upset in the GOP primary), but he dropped out after raising little money.
FLORIDA U.S. SENATOR — Politico reports that former Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson is making calls about a possible challenge to Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, and when asked about it, Grayson’s only response was, “Repeal Rubio. That’s all I have to say.” Grayson is one of the few Democrats that would make me consider not voting in this election if I were a Floridian. No thanks.
KANSAS GOVERNOR — Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who last month did not rule out a bid for governor next year, just accepted a position at a conservative think tank in D.C., which is not the kind of gig you usually take if you’re planning to run for office in your home state. It’s certainly not impossible, though—we’ve seen politicians do brief stints as Washington lobbyists before staging comebacks—so don’t count Pompeo out just yet.
OHIO U.S. SENATOR–CNN says Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor was considering the contest to succeed Republican U.S. Senator Rob Portman. O’Connor lost two close 2018 races in the conservative 12th Congressional District against Republican Congressman Troy Balderson.
State House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, who would be the state’s first Black senator, also said she was thinking about entering the Senate race. Sykes previously expressed interest last month in campaigning to succeed cabinet nominee Rep. Marcia Fudge, if there’s a special election for the safely blue 11th District, and it’s not clear if she’s also considering running there.
Former state health director Amy Acton is said to be considering running as a Democrat, though she hasn’t said anything publicly. Acton attracted state and national attention during the opening months of the coronavirus crisis through her prominent place at Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s afternoon briefings, and Richardson writes that she impressed many through her “her frank discussion of the dangers of coronavirus and the need for mitigation.” Acton, who was also the target of conservative attempts to undermine her, as well as antisemitic attacks, stepped down in June.
2018 GOP Senate nominee Jim Renacci said Tuesday he was interested in another Senate bid and would “be exploring my options to reenter public office over the next 60 days.” Renacci, who previously served four terms in Congress, has spent the last several months talking about challenging DeWine for renomination in part over the governor’s efforts to limit the spread of the pandemic. Republicans who remember his 53-47 loss to Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, though, probably won’t want him as their standard bearer for either race.
State GOP chair Jane Timken also confirmed Wednesday that she was “seriously considering” a Senate run. Timken, who won her post in early 2017 by unseating an incumbent with the Trump campaign’s support, is also part of a prominent donor family in state party politics.
Two other Republicans who had shown some interest in getting in, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and former Rep. Pat Tiberi, each said Wednesday that they wouldn’t enter the race.
VERMONT U.S. SENATOR — Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, who was hospitalized for a few hours on Tuesday after suffering what he described as muscle spasms, said on Wednesday that “of course” he’ll continue to serve out the rest of his term but said he wouldn’t make a decision about whether to seek a ninth term until the end of the year.
“You all know this, I never make up my mind until November or December the year before and I’m not going to now,” said the 80-year-old Leahy. “Usually when we start skiing and snowshoeing then we talk about it.” Leahy, who is currently the longest-serving member of the Senate, sounded ready to run again, saying “the latest polls show me winning easily.”
ALABAMA U.S. SENATOR — Richard Shelby is 86 and has been in office since 1987. After last year’s elections, Shelby promised a decision by January, but now he tells Roll Call‘s Bridget Bowman that he won’t say anything more until after Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, which will not begin until Feb. 8. When asked about his plans this week by CNN, Shelby would only say, “I’ll let you know.” Bowman says the senator “is not expected to run for reelection.”
ARKANSAS U.S. SENATOR — John Boozman, 70, said a year ago that he’s planning to run for a third term, and he repeated that intention this week to CNN. However, the senator has experienced some health problems that required heart surgery in 2014 and again in 2017, and he hasn’t yet announced a re-election bid.
IOWA U.S. SENATOR — 87-year-old Chuck Grassley, who was first elected in 1980, said in February of last year that he’d come to a decision eight to 12 months before Election Day 2022, though now he seems to have moved his timetable up. In new remarks, he says he’ll make an announcement in “several months.” If Grassley were to run and win again, he’d be 95 years old at the end of what would be his eighth term.
IDAHO U.S. SENATOR — Sen. Mike Crapo, 69, also told CNN he plans to run for a fifth term but likewise hasn’t actually kicked off a campaign. He was treated for prostate cancer in 2000 and 2005.
MISSOURI U.S. SENATOR — A spokesperson for Roy Blunt, 71, said in November that the senator would seek a third term, but now he’s sounding less definitive. Blunt told Roll Call’s Bowman that he’s “planning on reelection, but I haven’t made a final statement on that yet.” In separate remarks about his plans to Politico, Blunt said, “I really have not been thinking much about it to tell you the truth. … I keep thinking there will be a little breathing space, so far it’s not happening.”
SOUTH DAKOTA U.S. SENATOR –– John Thune, whose 60 years of age put him just below the senatorial average of 63, would only tell CNN that he’ll make an announcement about a fourth term “at some point in the future.” Trump exhorted Republicans to primary Thune late last year after the senator said that efforts to overturn the Electoral College “would go down like a shot dog.”
WISCONSIN U.S. SENATOR — Ron Johnson, 65, pledged prior to his last election in 2016 that he would only serve one more term if he won, but now he’s contemplating going back on his word. However, he still hasn’t made up his mind about whether to break his promise and run for a third term, saying, “I don’t think I have to for a while.”
Wall Street Journal: “Members of both national parties are already strategizing about how to structure the 2024 nominating contests, a formal Democratic National Committee review is under way, and potential Republican presidential candidates are likely to spend time in Iowa and other early states this year.”
“Besides Iowa’s two political parties, business leaders and groups in the state are also gearing up to try to help the state stay at the front of the line.”