It hasn't been a great couple of weeks for Donald Trump. First, Republicans scored a splashy win in the Virginia gubernatorial contest with a candidate who mostly stiff-armed Trump publicly.
Next, President Joe Biden accomplished in nine months what eluded Trump for four solid years. Even worse, the trillion-dollar plan—similar to one Trump floated in March 2020 but didn't have the skill to deliver—also garnered solid bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House.
Biden's success entirely destroyed Trump's ridiculous claim to being a master dealmaker. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has recently caved to Trump on other critical issues, surely felt a hint of glee when he declared the Biden bill "a godsend for Kentucky."
Overall, Trump still dominates the Republican Party and appears poised to continue snuffing out its more moderate, establishment elements in next year's midterms. But not everyone is bending to Trump's will, and if there's anything Trump craves, it's 100% fealty from everyone at all times. So in that sense, these last couple weeks have been filled with disappointment.
Beyond Virginia and the bipartisan blow Trump suffered with Build Back Better, Trump's once subservient mini-me 2024 hopeful is taking on a slightly more subversive demeanor.
Politico reports that Trump has been bending the ear of any Mar-a-Lago guest who will listen about the failure of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to publicly say he'll defer to Trump if the twice-impeached two-time popular vote loser declares his candidacy.
In the world according to Trump, DeSantis has privately reassured the great orange one that he will stand down if Trump wishes to run. But Trump doesn't just want private fealty, he wants public fealty. In the meantime, Trump is watching DeSantis avidly fundraise for a potential '24 bid, and he's not super excited about former aides like Mark Meadows sometimes joining DeSantis at high-profile events, such as a Beverly Hills fundraiser in June. And the more the star of DeSantis rises, the sooner Trump will try to orchestrate a takedown.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who voted to convict Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, also stuck it to Trump Friday with her announcement that she's running for reelection next year.
Trump endorsed Republican Kelly Tshibaka in June to primary Murkowski, but that clearly hasn't scared off the three-term senator. Murkowski survived a 2010 reelection scare by mounting a write-in campaign after she was defeated in the GOP primary. Her announcement sets up a showdown between Trump, who won the state by 10 points in 2020, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which has committed to backing Murkowski.
Finally, on his way out the Senate door, longtime Alabama lawmaker Richard Shelby is hoping to cripple Trump's endorsement of Rep. Mo “Body Armor” Brooks to be Shelby’s replacement. Instead, Shelby reportedly plans to boost the candidacy of his former chief of staff, 39-year-old Katie Britt, by gifting $5 million from his campaign funds to an independent super PAC supporting Britt.
“The Senator’s support for Katie is well known,” a Shelby spokesperson said in a statement. “He will continue to back her as the race develops in whatever ways are most appropriate, as he believes she is the best candidate to serve the people of Alabama.”
Brooks fired back by calling Shelby the epitome of the “establishment, never-Trump, RINO, special-interest group wing of the Republican Party.”