News & Politics

Trump Drafting 'Enemies List' of Republicans to Challenge in Primaries

Trump Drafting 'Enemies List' of Republicans to Challenge in Primaries
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Until about five years ago, Donald Trump’s political donations skewed heavily toward the Democrats. This isn’t that surprising, given his New York roots.

But even after getting elected president, Trump never considered himself a “party man.” He used the Republican Party as a springboard and a platform to run for president.

Now, he’s in the process — wittingly or unwittingly — of destroying it.

Trump is apparently making a list of Republican lawmakers who, he feels, didn’t back him strenuously enough or actually voted against him during the impeachment fight in the House. He will almost certainly add to that list when the Senate trial is concluded, as there could be as many as 10 Republicans voting to convict. His plan is to make their lives miserable by threatening to oppose their reelections.

The problem for Republicans is that, if Trump is serious about primarying all these lawmakers, he’s likely to dislodge at least a few of them and weaken others so they’d be vulnerable when they run for reelection. Instead of seeing a path back to power in the House and Senate in 2022, Trump’s plan to weaken the Republican Party might hand the Democrats a 10-year pass on maintaining a majority.

Trump’s plan to form a “Patriot” party or a “MAGA” party would be extremely difficult. But using the threat to form a new party may prove to be very useful when the Senate impeachment trial starts on February 8.

Daily Mail:

Trump has told people that the third-party threat gives him leverage to prevent Republican senators from voting to convict him during the Senate trial next month, people in his orbit told the Washington Post.

Since President Joe Biden took office, Trump has been ensconced at Mar-a-Lago, remaining publicly cryptic about his plans except to tell a reporter on Friday: ‘We’ll do something, but not just yet.’

But behind closed doors, Trump is already drafting an enemies list of Republicans who opposed his baseless claims of election fraud, instructing aids to prepare primary challenges against them, sources told the Post.

Creating a new political party would necessarily involve destroying one of the existing parties. Trump may be perfectly willing to do that, but is it even possible? Ross Perot tried it and failed. There has been talk for years of forming a hybrid GOP-libertarian party, but the differences have been impossible to bridge.

Trump may want to form a new party, but unless it’s radically different than the Republican Party, the effort is not likely to succeed.

‘This is a time for choosing for Republicans. Are we going to be the conservative party?’ said Kirk Adams, a former state House speaker and chief of staff to Ducey. ‘Or is this a party … that’s loyal to a single person?’

It´s a question of Republican identity that party officials and activists are facing across the country following Trump´s 2020 loss, and particularly after a mob of his supporters laid siege on the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

For Republican lawmakers, the choice is not easy. A friendly Trump could help them immensely, just like an unfriendly Trump could destroy them. In that sense, the question is moot. It’s Trump who brung them to the dance. It’ll be Trump who’s number one on the dance card.