Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

A super PAC closely aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is prepared to intervene in GOP primaries — and potentially challenge former President Trump — as it looks for the most viable candidates to reclaim the Senate.

Driving the news: Trump’s weekend endorsement of Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) in his state's 2022 Senate race put the GOP establishment on notice that party leaders won’t necessarily get to handpick their preferred candidates for the crucial midterms.

  • Trump and McConnell, former allies, parted ways over the former president's challenge to the 2020 election results and his speech stoking the Jan. 6 insurrection.
  • In some cases, Trump and GOP strategists may agree on who the best candidate is, but the pro-McConnell PAC — the Senate Leadership Fund — also is making clear it will make its own, independent assessment.
  • “As has long been SLF’s policy, we reserve the right to intervene in cases where a candidate is a clear threat to lose a seat in a general election and to protect our Republican incumbents,” Jack Pandol, the PAC's communications director, told Axios.

Why it matters: Candidate selection will be crucial to Republican efforts next year, given the 50-50 split in the Senate and GOP retirements in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri and Alabama.

  • McConnell has a personal interest in the outcome, since victory would allow him to regain control of the Senate agenda.
  • The National Republican Senatorial Committee, led by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), has indicated it won’t intervene in open primaries and focus instead on softening up the likely Democratic nominee.
  • “The NRSC has no interest spending any time or money attacking other Republicans,” said Chris Hartline, the NRSC's communications director. “We started Day 1 defining Democrats across the country as the ultra-liberal, big-spending, open borders radicals that they are.”

But, but, but: After Axios published this story, Steven Law, president of the SLF, publicly questioned its framing.

  • "Bogus headline in search of ‘GOP civil war’ clicks," he wrote on Twitter. "We are opposite the former president in exactly one race to date: Alaska, where we are for the incumbent (as is the NRSC)."

Flashback: The NRSC did take an interventionist approach in Kansas in 2020 and helped guide their preferred candidate, now-Sen. Roger Marshall, through a winding primary.

  • The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also has long taken an interventionist approach and refuses to apologize for trying to clear the field in favor of its favored candidates.

Between the lines: Scott has asked the former president to stay neutral in primaries.

  • Trump’s North Carolina endorsement, as well as his attacks on Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who is contemplating his own Senate run, suggest Trump has other plans.
  • In Missouri, the GOP establishment is concerned that former Gov. Eric Greitens, who resigned from office in 2018 after being indicted, could get a nod from Trump.
  • It's unclear, though, if Greitens would be an obvious loser in the general election, especially in a state Trump won by 15 points.

Go deeper: Democrats plan to exploit the Republican internal battles.

  • “In North Carolina — and across the Senate map — Trump is escalating GOP primaries and making the Republican infighting even worse,” said David Bergstein, the communications director for the DSCC.

Be smart: Trump’s Budd endorsement in North Carolina hasn’t cleared the field, and two other candidates — former Gov. Pat McCrory and former Rep. Mark Walker — show no sign of abandoning the race.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a quote from SLF President Steven Law and to omit from the headline that the SLF is intentionally planning to challenge Trump.

Go deeper

Sep 15, 2021 - World

Trump officials aim to turn GOP against Afghan refugees

Photo: Douglas P. DeFelice via Getty Images

A handful of former Trump officials are making a concerted effort to amass opposition to Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban, AP reports.

Why it matters: In media appearances, position papers and meetings with GOP lawmakers, they're crafting a narrative that hinges on the anti-immigrant sentiment that defined former President Trump's rise and overall discontent with the Biden administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Updated Sep 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden says California voters "will get Trump" if Newsom is ousted

President Biden and California Gov. Gavin Newsom during a campaign event at Long Beach City College on Monday. Photo: Brendan Smialowski /AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden said while campaigning for Gov. Gavin Newsom in California that if the Democrat is ousted in Tuesday's recall election, voters will end up with a "clone of Donald Trump" as governor.

Between the lines: Although Biden never mentioned him by name, conservative talk radio host Larry Elder has emerged as Newsom's biggest threat. Elder in 2019 described Trump's 2016 election win as "God-sent," and state Democrats have sought to imply that a vote for him is a vote for Trumpism.

Updated Sep 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

California Gov. Newsom survives recall election

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) defeated a Republican-backed effort to remove him, AP projected on Tuesday night.

Why it matters, via Axios' Margaret Talev: Tuesday's results highlight the limits of Republicans trying to use Trump tactics in a deeply Democratic state.