Former President Donald Trump is doling out endorsements to Republican officials and candidates in an effort to maintain his grip on the party, and the half dozen so far appear to be intended to reward loyalty and punish dissent during the impeachment proceedings earlier this year.
Trump has endorsed only one primary challenger to a GOP incumbent so far: former White House aide Max Miller, who is vying to unseat Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), one of 10 House Republicans who voted for impeachment in January.
Trump put out a mission statement-type release in February denouncing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “beltway first” politics and vowing to “back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First.”
But Trump has also endorsed Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), a lowkey legislator who doesn’t shy away from bipartisanship, but who voted to acquit Trump during his Senate impeachment trial last month even while denouncing his role in the Jan. 6 attack.
Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), another Republican who would not exactly find himself at home among the rowdy pro-Trump crowds at CPAC but who also voted to acquit, got Trump’s endorsement on Monday.
Trump has also endorsed Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), both pro-Trump politicians who voted to acquit but, like Boozman and Moran, voted against objections to Preisdent Joe Biden’s electors.
Only one incumbent senator endorsed by Trump so far, Sen. Kennedy (R-La.), voted to overturn the election on Jan. 6.
While Trump has been throwing his weight behind establishment Republicans, he has proven willing to deal some damage to the Republican establishment’s campaign operations. He has reportedly told the Republican National Committee, as well as the House and Senate GOP’s campaign arms, to stop using Trump-branded fundraising material, while even encouraging supporters to donate to his PAC instead of giving directly to Republicans.
Trump in December encouraged a challenge to Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who whipped votes against overturning the election Jan. 6, but he has not yet issued an endorsement one way or another in his 2022 reelection campaign. Forbes has reached out to his office for comment.
What To Watch For
Trump will likely support challengers to Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who have remained vocally anti-Trump after facing backlash from their party. Trump had already vowed in June to campaign against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) – the only senator up for reelection in 2022 who voted for conviction – for saying she was “struggling” with whether to vote for him.