A wave of hardcore conservatives could upend the makeup of the Senate and complicate things for Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
The primary election field is filled with Donald Trump loyalists in states where GOP senators are retiring, and McConnell has already indicated he's willing to push back against candidates he sees as unelectable -- even if the former president endorses them -- and some of those MAGA candidates are publicly disavowing the minority leader, reported Politico.
"Unfortunately, [retiring Sen.] Roy Blunt has been out siding with Mitch McConnell," said former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens. "He's been criticizing the president of the United States over what happened on Jan. 6. He's been criticizing the president of the United States for not coming to Joe Biden's inauguration, where obviously, everyone in Missouri, saw Roy Blunt there."
GOP officials worry Greitens, who resigned in 2018 over a sex scandal -- will cost them Blunt's seat, but a top Republican strategist told Politico that a Trumpier Senate wouldn't necessarily hurt McConnell.
"All of these [retiring senators] are good communicators, but their style is different," the strategist said, on the condition of anonymity. "They enjoy moving legislation along behind the scenes. That's what they're good at and that's why they're in the Senate,. Politics certainly on our side — and I think across the board — is becoming more of a very public, very vocal fight over the issues. Sometimes that can lead to results, but it's less about what's happening behind the scenes and moving the football a yard at a time down the field and it's more, maybe, of a Hail Mary on every snap."
GOP insiders say Trump's influence will be crucial in the midterm primaries, so MAGA candidates will likely come out on top.
"Primaries have low turnout but you can count on the Trump people because they're still coming to rallies, they still fly Trump flags, they still wave Trump signs," said former Pennsylvania GOP chair Rob Gleason. "In all of these states we're talking about, Trump supporters are still really active and because of all the problems with this presidency now, they don't just feel more energized. They feel vindicated."