Why upcoming GOP primaries may not double as Trump-McConnell proxy wars

Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell.
(Image credit: SAUL LOEB,MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump has been "unreachable" to anyone outside his limited inner circle since he left office last month, but that's about to change, Politico reports.

In the near future, Trump will begin vetting candidates at Mar-a-Lago to make sure "every open GOP seat in the 2022 midterms has a MAGA-approved contender vying for it," three people familiar with the strategy told Politico. Trump's plan to forge ahead has some folks concerned about a brewing war within the Republican Party, especially after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tore into Trump after he voted to acquit him in his impeachment trial, and Trump responded in turn with a scathing statement criticizing his former ally. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), for instance, said he's more worried about 2022 "than I've ever been ... I don't want to eat our own."

But The Bulwark's Tim Miller doesn't expect any congressional primaries to double as Trump-McConnell proxy wars. Pointing to the upcoming race for outgoing Sen. Rob Portman's (R-Ohio) seat in the Buckeye State, Miller notes that the two major candidates who have already declared, Josh Mandel and Jane Timken, were previously aligned with the centrist former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, but are now both competing in the "Trump lane." Looking beyond Ohio, Miller writes that he sees "no indication" of a viable GOP candidate emerging in any Senate primary "who blames Trump" for the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, "admits [President] Biden won the election fairly, and argues we need to turn the page on Trump."

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The National Journal's Josh Kraushaar agrees, but added that he believes McConnell himself will roll with that reality. Read more at Politico and The Bulwark. Tim O'Donnell

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