Republicans are facing a potential "nightmare" scenario heading into the 2022 midterm elections as two of the party's top leaders have divergent interests in key Senate primaries.

"The most intense political contest of 2022 might be one that's not on any ballot: Donald Trump versus Mitch McConnell. Trump hasn't been shy about ripping into McConnell and has made no secret of his desire to see Republicans demote the Senate minority leader," USA Today reported Monday. "Their extended feud now threatens to stoke bruising primary fights ahead of the midterms, potentially leaving Republicans candidates weakened for the general elections and undermining GOP efforts to retake the Senate."

The newspaper reported, "many Republicans fear open warfare will lead to the nomination of too-Trumpy extremists who would lose general elections to Democrats."

Some candidates are openly campaigning against McConnell, like former Gov. Eric Greitens, who is running for Senate in Missouri.

"In Alaska, a McConnell-backed political action committee, the Senate Leadership Fund, is supporting incumbent senator and Trump critic Lisa Murkowski. Trump, meanwhile, has pledged to campaign against Murkowski, one of seven GOP senators who voted to convict Trump of the Jan. 6 impeachment charges over the Jan. 6 insurrection," USA Today reported. "Trump-backed challenger Kelly Tshibaka says she would oppose McConnell's continuation as party leader."

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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey was described by McConnell as an "ideal" Senate candidate, but Trump effectively blocked the effort by saying "will never have my endorsement or the support of MAGA Nation!"

"As the Trump factor hovers over 2022, some Republicans are haunted by the specter of elections past," the newspaper reported. "In the 2010 and 2012 election cycles, for example, the Republicans lost four winnable Senate races because voters regarded their nominees as too extreme: Christine O'Donnell in Delaware and Sharron Angle in Nevada in 2010; Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana in 2012. Republicans fear something similar in 2022 – in a cycle in which every race counts as the GOP and Democrats vie for control of the Senate."

Trump telegraphed the stakes of his battle with McConnell in a statement emailed to reporters last February.

"The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political “leaders” like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm. McConnell’s dedication to business as usual, status quo policies, together with his lack of political insight, wisdom, skill, and personality, has rapidly driven him from Majority Leader to Minority Leader, and it will only get worse," Trump wrote. "Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again. He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our Country. Where necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First."

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'Nightmare' scenario for GOP as Trump and McConnell go to war with each other