Donald Trump is trying to engineer a more compliant Senate with the expectation that he'll have an easier time if he's re-elected president, but Republicans are worried that his efforts will backfire.
The twice-impeached one-term president is still bitter about his time in the White House because he believes GOP senators didn't pursue his agenda aggressively enough, and Trump has closely watched key Senate races where candidates are fighting for his attention -- and possibly his endorsement, reported Politico.
“If Trump is planning to run for president — which all signs point to, he is — the most important thing should be to elect more people to the Senate who share his worldview,” said one adviser. “I think the biggest problem Trump had in the first four years was the lack of ideological supporters in the Senate.”
Trump's endorsements usually are based on personal chemistry during Mar-A-Lago visits or chatter from informal calls with advisers and friends, according to aides and advisers, and GOP candidates hold fundraisers almost every night at the private club in hopes of scoring his seal of approval.
“Most things are on the table,” said another adviser.
To the former president, the most important quality for GOP candidates is their perceived loyalty to him, but some Republicans are worried that his personal involvement in Senate races could cost them a shot at regaining the majority in this year's midterm elections.
“Trump may well cost us the Arizona seat by his actions,” said longtime GOP strategist Scott Reed. “It doesn’t help the cause when you take an A-player like [Arizona Gov. Doug] Ducey off the field. Forget what he says about [Senate minority leader Mitch] McConnell and these other people, I’m just doing basic math on how we’re ever going to win the majority and that does go through Arizona.”
The former president basically stopped Ducey, a two-term governor and chair of the Republican Governors Association, from running for Senate after he certified President Joe Biden's election win and distanced himself from the right-wing election "audit" in Maricopa County -- and that obsession with his 2020 loss could hurt Republicans this year.
“He wanted a certain outcome, and rather than taking responsibility for that outcome he pointed his fingers at other people,” said Kirk Adams, Ducey’s former chief of staff. “Donald Trump should have won Arizona, he could have won Arizona, and maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to dump on Arizona’s favorite son, John McCain, even after he passed away.”