The feud that’s erupted between Donald Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell has intensified the rift between Trump’s base of supporters and the GOP establishment.
McConnell blamed Trump for the January 6 capitol riot. Trump called McConnell names. And the entire party lined up to take sides.
This included the big-money donors to the party — most of whom are currently on the sidelines but will almost certainly have to choose sides eventually.
Besides that, all this energy that could be going to fighting Joe Biden and the Democrats is currently being channeled to a circular firing squad rather than toward the Democrats.
“I think as long as Republicans are out there talking about our own primaries and not talking about [President] Biden and Democratic policies, we’re losing,” a longtime GOP donor said. “Dem money’s going to flow; I think the worry will be some of the GOP money will sit on the sidelines, even the big establishment money, until Republicans get their act together.”
Two Republican senators who voted to convict Trump, Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Richard Burr (N.C.), are not running for reelection in 2022, leaving open two swing state seats. Another vote to convict came from Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who faces reelection next year.
Both the Pennsylvania and North Carolina seats are definitely in play and Democrats see them as prime opportunities to flip GOP seats in 2022. While North Carolina remains nominally a Republican state, like Georgia, the demographics are changing rapidly. Those changes currently favor the Democrats. Pennsylvania is definitely a toss-up state and the fate of a Trump clone running in the keystone state is shaky.
“I think McConnell wins with the legitimate GOP donors. And he wins in the long run. Ex-President Trump lost Georgia, and the Senate, period. And the White House, legitimately. The GOP base is ready and needs to move on; the ex-President’s base — which is not a real Republican base — maybe not so much, but they’ve lost the podium,” said a former corporate PAC director.
Both sides talk about “real Republicans” like the other guy is the enemy. That’s not a good sign. What’s needed is a bridge between the two camps.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) sees it differently. On Saturday, he called Lara Trump, Trump’s daughter-in-law, the “biggest winner of this whole impeachment trial.” She is expected to run for Burr’s open seat and Graham said that Burr’s vote to convict made her “almost the certain nominee.”
Lara Trump is an interesting personality. Married to the former president’s second son, Eric, she has some definite political plusses.
“She’s very charismatic, she understands retail politics well and has a natural instinct for politics,” Mercedes Schlapp, a Trump adviser, told the Times. “In North Carolina, in particular, she’s a household name and people know her. She worked really hard on the campaign and was very involved in a lot of decisions throughout.”
Her credentials are sound and she’s very popular in North Carolina. Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows may also run for Burr’s seat, which would set up an interesting match-up between Trump acolytes.
If the civil war gets too messy, it’s likely that several big-money donors will sit out 2022 and concentrate on nominating a candidate they support in 2024. These kinds of self-inflicted wounds are not needed by the Republicans at this point, but Trump won’t stop until he has every Republican locked into his orbit.