Jan 4, 2022 - Politics & Policy

How Trump’s endorsements are shaping a future GOP Congress

Data: Axios research; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Donald Trump is using the power of his endorsement not only to punish "disloyal" House Republicans but reward members of the chamber's most conservative Republican groups.

Why it matters: The former president's support for more than 20 incumbent re-election bids highlights his efforts to reshape the House Republican conference in his image, through midterms that could thrust the GOP back into power a year from now.

  • That would stymie Democrat-led investigations into the Jan. 6 insurrection and Trump's own presidency.
  • It also would boost his own potential presidential campaign in 2024.

The Republican Study Committee, a conservative group boasting a membership of three-quarters of all House Republicans, has proved a guide for Trump’s endorsements.

  • Nearly all the House incumbents he’s endorsed are members of the group.
  • The powerful group often dictates the tenor of the conference's messaging. Its chair, Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), has sketched out an electoral strategy for the GOP.
  • It involves courting Trump voters some Republicans find "distasteful."

A third of recipients also are members of the hard-right Freedom Caucus, whose scorched-earth tactics have made it a natural ally for Trump.

Just one Trump endorsee, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), is a member of the Governance Group.

  • The group's leader, Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), drew Trump’s wrath by voting to impeach him in January; McCaul also is a member of the Republican Study Committee.
  • Trump hasn't endorsed any members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of 29 Democrats and 29 Republicans that backed the $1.9 trillion infrastructure package.
  • The former president has derisively dubbed it the “Unfrastructure Bill."
  • Trump has gone so far as to openly solicit challenges against Republicans who voted for impeachment and the infrastructure bill, on Monday encouraging a primary challenge against Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.). He voted for the bill but not impeachment.

In a snub of House Democrats’ reprisals, as well as a show of his priorities, Trump has issued endorsements for some of the House’s most prominent right-wing provocateurs at the height of their controversy.

  • He endorsed Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) a day after the House passed an anti-Islamophobia bill widely viewed as a rebuke of her inflammatory rhetoric toward Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).
  • Trump also endorsed Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.).
  • That too came a day after the House censured him and stripped him of his committee assignments for posting an anime video depicting violence against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). and President Biden.

Flashback: Trump has already thrown his political power behind right-wing House insurgents challenging “disloyal” Republicans, as Axios reported.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify that Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill but not the impeachment of former President Trump.

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