Former President Donald Trump has a warning for the Republicans who voted to impeach him a second time: He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice, he’s gonna find out who’s MAGA or anti-MAGA. The real estate billionaire mogul could be spending his time until the start of the 2024 election season retaliating against the seven GOP senators who tried to convict him last month. Number 45 is coming to a town near you. His first stop? Up north. But could Utah and Nebraska also be on his revenge-tour itinerary?
Meet Me in Alaska
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted in favor of convicting Trump on charges of “incitement of insurrection” regarding the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. She refused to accept the event as a “spontaneous uprising,” averring that Trump “set the stage months before the 2020 election by stating that the election was rigged.”
Murkowski is seeking re-election for a fourth term in November 2022. While the early polls suggest a Republican will likely win the Alaska Senate race, some prominent individuals had expressed public interest in primarying her, even before the impeachment fiasco. It turns out that she could have another obstacle in her path: Trump.
In a March 6 statement to Politico, the former president confirmed he will be heading to the Last Frontier to campaign against her ahead of the 2022 midterm elections:
“I will not be endorsing, under any circumstances, the failed candidate from the great State of Alaska, Lisa Murkowski. She represents her state badly and her country even worse. I do not know where other people will be next year, but I know where I will be — in Alaska campaigning against a disloyal and very bad Senator.”
Trump also pointed to the senator’s confirmation of Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM) to serve as President Joe Biden’s secretary of the interior. Because Haaland has been accused of holding “radical” positions on energy, like opposing fracking and the Keystone XL pipeline, Trump told the website that this is “yet another example of Murkowski not standing up for Alaska.”
Considering that Trump is more popular than Murkowski in Alaska – 52% to 43% – this could be bad news for the senator who has held her position since 2002. But what about the six other Republican senators? Are they in store for a day of reckoning come their re-election bids?
He’s Comin’ for You
Who were the other Republican senators to vote to impeach the former president? Senators Richard Burr (SC), Bill Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), Mitt Romney (UT), Ben Sasse (NE), and Pat Toomey (PA). These names could be on Trump’s enemies list a la President Richard Nixon. But while penalizing these individuals for their support of the Democratic agenda might seem appetizing for MAGA Country, it also presents a quandary for conservatives.
Schaeffer has regularly opined that Trump, to further his agenda when he was president, needed to throw his colossal support to MAGA Republicans – not the ones who have been ensconced in the corridors of power for years. Trump routinely surrounded himself with individuals who became permanent fixtures of Washington, contradicting the idea of America First Trumpism. Whether it was championing a neoconservative foreign policy objective or enabling other nations to rip off America, these prominent establishment figures were seen in both the executive and legislative branches with Trump’s endorsement.
But now that the twice-impeached president has seen through the façade of these Republican figures, the next crusade until the presidential election could be going scorched-earth on these same folks.
Could Trump place a bullseye on the small fish in a little pond (Cassidy and Toomey)? Or could Trump target the whales inside a teardrop (Romney and Sasse)? Rather than satisfying his ego by ousting these names from America’s Rolodex of past-expiration-date politicians, perhaps the former president’s enormous resources could be better utilized by supporting Republicans who have adequately advanced the conservatarian or MAGA cause.
Whether that is Romney or a primary challenger in the coming elections remains to be seen. But a party divided against itself cannot endure the onslaught of today’s Red Guard cartel. If a civil war breaks out within the GOP, it is an opportunity for the Democrats to pounce. See: Georgia.
America First or Trump First?
An ancient proverb states that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” suggesting that two parties can work together against a common foe. Romney might be public enemy No. 1 among Trumplicans, but some of his recent stances and proposals are in line with mainstream conservative principles, such as slamming the enormous $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus and relief package and advancing religious liberty in the Equality Act. America First is about the country – not Trump – no matter how integral he has been to lighting the movement’s spark. Could Romney or Sasse win homecoming king in MAGA Country? No. Could the two men share positions critical to Trump voters? That is up to the right-wing electorate to decide at the ballot box.
Read more from Andrew Moran.