This weekend, 50 Republican senators had to make a decision on the political future of Donald Trump. If they choose to convict him, Trump will never be allowed to run for political office again. This would prevent the 45th president from remaining the face of the Republican party and also strip him of a fair amount of his power.
The decision, however, is not so simple. Trump is wildly popular in most Red States. Those politicians who decide to convict the former president will surely be facing primary opponents. This threat has already been made by some in Trump’s inner circle. The more popular Republicans can certainly withstand a primary opponent, but others may be in for tough battles.
There are states becoming bluer like Georgia, Texas and North Carolina. Others like Ohio, are growing redder. So the decision to back Trump will end the careers of some Republicans who have backed him, especially those who back his election lie. For others, the choice to support Trump will make no political difference at all.
Ted Cruz is in Trouble
Ted Cruz has been a reasonably powerful senator during his 7 years in office. He has also shown quite a bit of ambition. The Texas lawmaker ran for the Republican nomination in 2016, finishing in second place behind Donald Trump.
Cruz frequently attacked Trump and refused to support him during the 2016 Republican National Convention. Once Trump won the White House, though, the Texas lawmaker quickly fell in line. Cruz went so far as becoming the most prominent Republican to support Trump’s attempt to overturn the election.
That choice is likely to be Cruz’s undoing. Trump did well in the state of Texas during the 2020 election, but Trump is a different animal. In 2018, Cruz barely held off Democrat Beto O’Rourke for his senate seat. By the time 2024 comes around, Texas will likely be significantly bluer. And if O’Rourke is again his opponent, he will hammer Cruz on his lies about the election.
Lindsey Graham Will be Fine
It’s strange to think at one point, Lindsey Graham was a moderate senator with friends on both sides of the aisle. But over the last four years, the South Carolina senator has taken a flamethrower to that reputation. Joe Biden simply said that the destruction of the two men’s friendship has been “a disappointment.”
Once a fierce critic of Donald Trump, Graham later became one of the ex-president’s most fervent supporters. And America certainly took notice as Graham became one of the most unpopular lawmakers in the country. Millions of dollars flowed into the campaign coffers of his opponent Jaime Harrison.
Unfortunately for Harrison, most of that money came in from out of state. And while the 2020 election between the two men was expected to be close, Graham won quite easily. As long as Graham doesn’t hold ambitions higher than his senate seat, he will remain quite safe.
Josh Hawley is in Trouble
In 2015, Donald Trump succeeded in a hostile takeover of the Republican party. The lawmakers who were considered to be the future of the GOP had to take a backseat to Trump and his cult of personality.
That wasn’t going to last forever, though. Trump, unsurprisingly, was a horrific president who has now been impeached twice. In addition, the 45th president is facing severe legal jeopardy in Georgia and New York. And as a morbidly obese man in his late 70’s, health will always be a question.
Josh Hawley, 42 years old, well educated and telegenic, was a good candidate to be the party’s next standard bearer. The Missouri senator, though, threw all of his support behind Trump’s election lie. And Hawley became an accessory to the insurrection that raged on Capitol on January 6th. The repercussions from those actions are already showing as Hawley’s approval ratings have tanked.
Mitt Romney Will be Fine
Following his election loss in November, more GOP senators were willing to speak out against Donald Trump. Mitt Romney, however, has been willing to speak out against Trump from the very beginning, even when he wasn’t a US senator.
And the GOP has often fired back against Romney for his critiques. Even during the impeachment trial, Romney got into a shouting match with Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson. Johnson was angry with the Utah senator over his vote to allow witnesses. The vote didn’t matter in the long run.
But all of the GOP’s anger over Romney’s treatment of Trump doesn’t matter in the state of Utah. While Utah is reliably red, it doesn’t much like Trump. In 2016, 3rd party candidate Evan McMullin garnered 21% of the vote, many from Republicans who didn’t want to vote for Trump. Romney dominated his 2018 senate race, winning nearly 63% of the vote.
Mitch McConnell is in Trouble
Mitch McConnell has spent the last 6 years as the Senate Majority Leader. And the Kentucky senator has made full use of that power. In his time, he was able to block an Obama Supreme Court nominee and put 3 Conservative judges on the Supreme Court.
And McConnell also utilized Donald Trump the best way he knew how. Now that Trump is out of office, McConnell sees him as a threat to the party’s future. Democrats won the senate majority by winning two seats in a January special election in Georgia. And Trump’s unpopularity helped drive voters to the polls.
McConnell is desperate to get Republicans back in power. In some ways Trump helps them do this and in some ways the ex-president prevents them from doing this. McConnell is going to have a very difficult time winning back the senate as long as Trump is in the picture.
Marco Rubio Will be Fine
Marco Rubio rose up the ranks of the Republican party fast. And if he won the 2016 nomination, it wouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone. But he was frequently emasculated on the campaign trail by Donald Trump would referred to him as “Little Marco.”
At the time, Rubio was willing to climb into the ring with Trump and make genitalia jokes. But once Trump took office, the Florida senator almost completely had his back. The only critiques Rubio had for Trump were through vague bible verses on Twitter.
Rubio’s chances at being the party’s presidential nominee have likely passed. But the state of Florida has gotten much redder over the last 5 years. If Rubio wants to remain in his senate seat for a long time that opportunity is open to him.
There are many obstacles to Donald Trump again being the Republican nominee in 2024. The former president, though, is going to do everything he can to stay in power. And that fact is going to wreak absolute havoc on the party. It might even doom it is a political power. Stay tuned.