On Saturday, CNN reported that Republican operatives are fearful that former President Donald Trump could inject himself into Senate races next year — interfering with races and ultimately sabotaging GOP chances of taking back the Senate.
“Trump has long been drawn to backing candidates who have shown unending allegiance to him and Republican operatives believe that desire, especially after losing the presidential election in 2020, will be unchanged two years later,” reported Dan Merica. “But the fear among some operatives is that Trump will be even more of a free agent outside of the White House, less willing to bow to pressure that party leaders like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell put on him to back candidates they believed have better chances to win statewide races.”
Democrats won control of the Senate in 2020 — but only barely. Their wins in the double-barrel Senate runoffs in Georgia brought the chamber to a 50-50 tie, which gives Vice President Kamala Harris the tiebreaking vote on legislation, and Democrats control of the committees.
“Compounding this issue is a Senate map that is shaping up to test the Republican Party,” continued the report. “Of the 34 Senate races in the country next year, Republicans will be tasked with defending 20 seats, compared to 14 for Democrats. And of those 20 seats, two will be in states where President Joe Biden won — Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — and four will be in traditional battleground states — Florida, Ohio, Iowa and North Carolina.”
According to the report, Republicans are fearful of a far-right candidate blowing their chances in Georgia and Arizona, and the risk could also be great in North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, where incumbents are retiring. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin will be a top Democratic target, and it is unclear whether Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa will run again. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has won previous elections without much effort — but he could be vulnerable to a primary challenge.
“Trump’s grip on the Republican Party was only strengthened over his four years in office,” said the report. “And just a few weeks removed from his presidency, there are few signs — if any — that Republicans are preparing to move away from the former President.”
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