The clash was inevitable and no secret. Trump’s primary concern regarding any primary candidate is loyalty. McConnell and the GOP Senators’ primary concern is the majority. There has been considerable reporting on McConnell’s worry that Trump will literally blow the GOP’s chance at a new majority in 2022. Of course, any sort of remedy to the situation would involve GOP openly opposing Trump’s directive.
The dynamic has never worked before, other than perhaps when Trump needed RNC money.
But the clash is now in plain view in Alabama, where GOP primary opponents are fighting over an open seat. Trump almost immediately endorsed Roy Moore, the highly controversial and highly questionable representative that spoke during Trump’s rally and faces an uncertain future. It is conceivable that Moore may face some uncomfortable moments in front of the Select Committee and be forced to make really tough choices. He is also a crazed-kook and that’s no secret, even in GOP politics.
Moore is running against the type of candidate the GOP senate desperately needs, Katie Britt, a Gen-X woman, smart, tough, likeable (as opposed to Moore), and new to politics.
According to Politico:
Five Republican senators — Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) — have donated to Britt’s campaign from their leadership PACs. None of them have done so yet for GOP Rep. Mo Brooks, who Trump endorsed in April to replace the retiring Shelby (R-Ala.).
Money. That’s about as clear as it gets in politics, though Politico goes on to quote several Senators that have made supportive comments that almost equate to money.
It is far too early for the standoff to really get hot, but the entire dynamic is already in place and seemingly unavoidable. Alabama is not Georgia, it is far less likely to vote in a Democrat even if the Republican is seen as somewhat crazy. But Alabama has voted in a Democrat when the choice was clearly unacceptable in Roy Moore. The GOP does not want to run that risk again.
The dynamic makes the early signs important. The fact that other Senators (Tuberville, Graham, others) have made supportive comments while silent regarding Brooks is a clear sign that, at least as of now, they are unafraid of Trump’s anger if it directly threatens their majority.
Trump has always been a divider. It is all he knows. He is never going to haul fifteen senators down to Mar-a-Lago and meet to say, “Alright, let’s all get on the same page. If you cannot support Brooks, maybe I just keep my mouth shut, or maybe I figure out a way to move my support so that we’re all happy.”
It just isn’t going to happen and everyone knows it, which is why McConnell and his legion have known this was long coming. So far, the current sitting senators haven’t had any trouble openly supporting (though not endorsing) a candidate up against Trump’s absolute, steadfast, unchanging, candidate.
Democrats are more than happy to sit back and watch the GOP further divide itself. Alabama isn’t likely to decide the question regarding the majority, but the dynamic is the national one that McConnell so fears.
Jason Miciak is a political writer, features writer, author, and attorney. He is originally from Canada but grew up in the Pacific Northwest as a dual Canadian-American citizen, which he grows increasingly thankful for every day. He now enjoys life as a single dad, writing from the beaches of the Gulf Coast, getting advice from his beloved daughter and teammate. He is very much the dreamy mystic that cannot add and loves dogs more than most people. He also likes studying cooking, theoretical physics, cosmology, and quantum mechanics. He likes pizza.
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