With his cave in — really more of a boxer’s late-round dive — in passing the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has assured that his 2024 Senate candidates will have to survive primary fights against determined and outraged conservatives backed, encouraged, and partially funded by Donald Trump.
Right now, McConnell himself is insulated from the vengeance of conservative voters until 2026 by his six-year term, largely assured by Trump’s mistaken endorsement of him in 2020.
But the ten Republican Senators who must run in 2024 have no such protection. Nor do the potential Republican challengers to the 23 Democrats and Independents up for re-election in 2024. If they back McConnell and defend his support of Biden’s budget, they will find it very hard to win their primaries.
McConnell’s craven submission to Biden’s big spending assures that the Republican primaries of 2024 will be all about his decision to let Biden’s budget pass, replete with its 87,000 new IRS agents and its big spending that will kindle even more inflation.
All the Republican Senate primaries in ’24 will feature proxy fights between Trump and McConnell, about like last year. But the battle lines in 2024 will be much better defined and opposition to McConnell much more intense.
And not just in Senate primaries.
If DeSantis challenges Trump in the presidential primary of 2024, he will have to choose to be for Mitch McConnell or against him. If he chooses to ally with the Kentucky Senator, he won’t be able to rally the conservative base against Trump. And if he chooses to oppose McConnell, he will sacrifice a lot of potential financial backing from McConnell’s people.
Damned if he does. Damned if he doesn’t.
The two key issues in a potential Trump-DeSantis fight are becoming increasingly clear:
(a) Is Trump guilty or innocent of the January 6th Committee charges?
(b) Do Republican conservatives back Trump in his war with McConnell?
Advantage Trump on both counts.
Opposition to McConnell will animate and strengthen Donald Trump. Between that issue and the assaults on the former president’s right to free speech, Trump holds all the cards.
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