Governance

Questions mount about Trump’s control of Republican Party following midterms

But the ex-commander-in-chief is facing mounting questions about whether he is a boon for the Republican Party or dead weight.

Many analysts predicted this year’s midterm elections would result in an onslaught of Republican victories commonly referred to as a “red wave” amid widespread discontent about the health of the US economy and the midterms’ traditional role as a bloodletting for the party in power.

Instead, Democrats defended their Senate majority -- perhaps even adding a seat to their ranks -- and have triaged their losses in the House of Representatives where Republicans were expected to add dozens of seats to their bloc, but are now on the verge of a single-digit majority.

The battle for the chamber is ongoing but Republicans are one seat short of being able to claim the 218 seats needed for a majority with 13 races undecided. Several uncalled races are leaning toward the Republicans, putting the party on the precipice of being able to claim control over one chamber of Congress.

Whichever party emerges victorious in the House will hold a razor-thin majority, complicating efforts to govern. Trump remains the Republican Party’s clear front-runner for the 2024 presidential election, and he hit the campaign trail hard for the hundreds of candidates he endorsed for federal, state and local offices in the months leading up to the Nov. 8 midterms.

To be clear, Trump can claim a healthy showing in the House of Representatives where he endorsed many candidates that were engaged in contests in uncompetitive districts. But when it comes to closely-watched high-profile contests, particularly in the Senate and for governorships, his showing was exceedingly underwhelming.

Trump-backed Senate candidates lost in the states of Arizona, Nevada and Pennsylvania and could lose a tightly-contested run-off election in Georgia where Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker are slated to compete again Dec. 6. State races for governors’ mansions have offered similarly dour indications for Trump’s influence with losses in Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Prominent Republicans have begun breaking ranks with Trump as the scope of losses becomes increasingly clear.

“The question is: who is the current leader of the Republican Party? Oh, I know who it is: Ron DeSantis,” Republican Sen. Cynthia Lummis told the Politico news website. “Ron DeSantis is the leader of the Republican Party, whether he wants to be or not.”

Lummis was referring to the Florida governor who won a resounding victory against Democratic challenger last week, and who has increasingly been eyed as a contender for the Republican mantle heading into 2024.

Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears, a longtime Trump ally, went further, saying it is time for Republicans to “move on” from Trump.

“A true leader understands when they have become a liability. A true leader understands that it’s time to step off the stage. And the voters have given us that very clear message,” she said in an interview with Fox Business two days after Election Day.

Sensing the discontent in the Republican Party, Trump has sought to heap blame on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for the poor showing.

“It’s Mitch McConnell’s fault. Spending money to defeat great Republican candidates instead of backing Blake Masters and others was a big mistake,” he wrote Sunday on his social media website. “He blew the Midterms, and everyone despises him.”

It should come as no surprise that Trump is now scrambling for a scapegoat. Asked on Election Day if he should receive credit or blame based on election results, Trump had one of his most characteristic answers to date.

“I think if they win, I should get all of the credit, and if they lose, I should not be blamed at all,” he told the NewsNation television channel.

Still, the damage may already be done.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a steadfast Trump ally, balked Monday when asked if he would endorse Trump ahead of the ex-president’s announcement Tuesday night.

“Let’s see what he says,” he said. “I’ll tell you after Georgia,” Graham added, referring to the runoff election in December, according to Politico.

Source: Anadolu Agency