Even amid massive legal battles including an FBI raid on his private residence in Palm Beach, Florida, former President Donald Trump continues to cast a huge shadow on the Republican Party. His influence remains significant.
Trump’s pick for governor in the swing state of Wisconsin easily won over a favorite of the GOP establishment. And in Connecticut, the state that began Bush’s brand of compassionate conservatism, the controversial contender who promoted Trump’s stolen election narrative upset the state’s GOP-endorsed candidate.
This week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene defended Trump against an unprecedented FBI search.
These are all indicators that Trump is still at the top of the heap in the GOP. With the legal issues all around Trump, and with the chance that he may decide to run again for the presidency, Trump needs to support from the Republican Party.
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But they need him as well. His endorsement still proves to be crucial for those who want to be elected in November.
Georgia Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan said, “For a pretty good stretch, it felt like the Trump movement was losing more ground than it was gaining.” He has been challenging his party in his state to move past Trump. But Duncan even admitted this week that the former president is getting “an incredibly swift tail wind.”
The Republican response to the FBI’s search of Trump’s Florida estate this week was telling. The party knows it needs to keep Trump close, even those who might run against him in the 2024 GOP primary like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. He defended Trump this week after the FBI raid.
In the months before this month, Trump was simply gaining momentum in his effort to continue to shape the new GOP.
Almost 180 Trump-endorsed candidates have won their primaries since May and fewer than 20 have lost.
You might want to read that last line again.
Only two of the 10 House Republicans who supported Trump’s impeachment after the Jan. 6 riot on the Capitol are expected back in their seats in Congress next year. Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler, R-Wash., was just defeated, and Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., could join her next week.
Trump batted 1000 in the statewide primary elections in Arizona last week. And his allies won in Wisconsin and Connecticut, both states known as moderate GOP states.
The winner in Connecticut, Leora Levy, promoted the 2020 stolen election story. She was a stunning upset victor against her moderate rival.
She said this about the raid on Trump’s Florida home, “All of us can tell him how upset and offended and disgusted we were at what happened to him. That is un-American. That is what they do in Cuba, in China, in dictatorships. And that will stop.”
No one knows what the recent legal threats will do in November and 2024. Some believe that Trump’s picks may fail in the fall. Some of them were even supported by Democrats because they think they can beat them in November.
Trump’s legal issues will at the very least be a distraction for GOP candidates. They would much rather have the focus on Biden’s failed leadership.
“Today, every Republican in every state in this country should be talking about how bad Joe Biden is, how bad inflation is, how difficult it is to run a business and run a household,” said Duncan, the Georgia lieutenant governor. “But instead, we’re talking about some investigation, we’re talking about Donald Trump pleading the Fifth, we’re talking about Donald Trump endorsing some conspiracy theorist.”
Trump’s allies are very confident about his ability to win the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2024. “It’s going to be very difficult for anyone to take the nomination away from him in 2024,” said Stephen Moore, a former Trump economic adviser. “He is running. That is a certainty.”
Like it or not, Trump is going to be a factor in the future.