Minority Leader Mitch McConnell conceded Thursday that he and Donald Trump have competing agendas when it comes to the midterms—a nod to how little control any Republican has over Trump's role in efforts to retake control of Congress next year.
Asked by Fox News hosts if he would welcome Trump's involvement in the midterms, McConnell hedged, "Well, he has his own agenda." McConnell then proceeded to articulate his own view that Republicans should make 2022 a referendum on the Biden administration and "what they're trying to do to the country." One can only conclude that McConnell takes issue with Biden's efforts to bring the pandemic under control while getting Americans back to work and kids back in the classroom.
In any case, the relationship between McConnell and Trump clearly remains as contentious as ever. And despite the sycophantic efforts of Sen. Rick Scott, GOP Senate campaign chief, bestowing a fake award on Trump, the 2020 loser is determined to apply his toxic touch to next year's contests.
Nowhere was that more evident than at last weekend's state GOP convention in North Carolina, where Trump delivered his first political speech in months. Shortly after a straw poll showing attendees favored former Rep. Mark Walker to run for the state's open Senate seat, Trump hopped up on stage and endorsed hard-right Rep. Ted Budd in the race.
“A lot of you don’t know him well,” Trump said as he called Budd up to the stage. “He will fight like hell. He will fight like nobody fights.”
The surprise announcement left Walker and another top Republican contender, former Gov. Pat McCrory, scrambling to shrug off Trump's endorsement as inconsequential. It's also caused a round of finger pointing in the state party, with McCrory blaming former North Carolina Congressman and Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows for lining up the endorsement. But worse yet, Trump's meddling in state matters could saddle the GOP with hard-right candidate who's a far weaker general election candidate than either Walker or McCrory.
“We can’t let this guy pick our candidates if we want to be in the Senate majority,” one senior Republican strategist told the National Journal.
Perhaps Republicans should have thought of that sooner when they had a chance to impeach Trump over Jan. 6. Too late now.
Trump's been on quite a romp in the Senate battleground states. He has blasted Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich for failing to sufficiently seed election fraud lies despite the fact that Brnovich was poised to launch a bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly. Brnovich, who has since launched his Senate campaign and knows how to win statewide, is now forced to navigate Trump's tempestuous turns.
In Georgia, Trump appears to have frozen the Republican field by endorsing former star running back Herschel Walker in the effort to take on Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. Walker, who has lived in Texas for years, skipped last week’s Georgia state GOP convention—the type of venue serious candidates typically flock to.
But the U.S. Senate race isn't the only Georgia contest Trump has turned on its head, just like Georgia isn't the only state where Trump is turning the Republican Party into a snake pit.
Republican lawmakers had a choice following Jan. 6. Heckuva job, GOP.