NEW REPORTS: Ahead of AZ Rally, Trump Trying To Play “Kingmaker” & “Boost MAGA candidates” in GOP Senate Primaries

Ahead of Donald Trump’s rally this weekend in Arizona, a series of new reports are highlighting how Trump’s “focus has turned to the contest for the Senate,” where he is attempting to play “kingmaker,” “boost MAGA candidates” and escalating the GOP’s intra-party fighting in their Senate primaries.

Arizona’s GOP Senate primary is “ground zero” for Trump’s efforts. As Roll Call reports, “Not on the list to join Trump onstage are Arizona Republicans with whom Trump has clashed, including Gov. Doug Ducey and state Attorney General Mark Brnovich.”

Read more from Roll Call and Politico here:

Roll Call: ‘Kingmaker’ Trump heads to rural Arizona, where GOP candidates are eager for his backing
By John T. Bennet
January 13, 2022

Key Points:

  • Arizona has become ground zero for Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him by Democrats and, to him, insufficiently conservative governors and state elections officials.
  • Not on the list to join Trump onstage are Arizona Republicans with whom Trump has clashed, including Gov. Doug Ducey and state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who have publicly and privately pushed back on Trump’s election claims. Brnovich is running for the GOP nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly.
  • A Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee official… suggested that Trump’s presence in Arizona and other states would hurt GOP candidates.
  • “Look at where he has endorsed already: Pennsylvania, North Carolina and elsewhere,” the official said. “His endorsement didn’t clear the primary. It did the opposite, it just created more chaos. … His endorsements, so far, have just added fuel to the fire.”
  • Trump’s selection of Arizona to lead off his 2022 rally appearances shows how he intends to make his “stolen” election claims a centerpiece of his midterm message.
  • “The action here is going to be in the primaries, really, the Republican primaries,” said Michael O’Neil, a former political science professor-turned-private pollster based in Arizona. “The list of speakers at the rally, and really most Republican candidates, for the sake of winning their primaries, are tickled to have Trump here. They’re doing everything they can to associate themselves with him.”
  • “Chaos might work for Trump, but we think it’ll prove detrimental to GOP candidates,” the DSCC official said. “He’s pushing these candidates to take unpopular stances. … Whoever makes it out of attacking each other in the primaries will have gone through months and months of attacks.”

Politico: Trump is eyeing the White House and wants a more compliant Senate for when he gets there

By Meridith McGraw
January 13, 2022

  • As Donald Trump charts out his midterm elections strategy, his focus has turned to the contest for the Senate.
  • This Saturday, Trump will hold a rally in Florence, Ariz. But he is not expected to make an endorsement of any Senate candidate in that state, according to aides.
  • People close to the former president say Trump isn’t being judicious so much as cautious, having been burned too many times backing candidates that weren’t fully vetted or weren’t sure things in their primaries.
  • Endorsements may not be forthcoming, but an aggressive midterm election push by the ex-president to boost MAGA candidates and his own supremacy in the party is.
  • Aides and advisers say Trump is closely analyzing and watching key Senate races where candidates are duking it out over the airwaves and vying for his attention.
  • For Trump, the key element he tries to glean from these gatherings is how loyal the candidate is.
  • Out of office, Trump has continued to browbeat Senate Republicans he viewed as disobedient during his presidency. He has regularly criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for not going along with his lies about the 2020 election being stolen.
  • Some Republicans fear that Trump’s outsized involvement in the upcoming midterms is already putting GOP wins at risk.
  • In Arizona, Trump effectively blocked Ducey, the Republican governor, from running for U.S. Senate in 2022, after Ducey certified Arizona’s election results. Ducey… found himself in the former president’s crosshairs when he distanced himself from the partisan election audit in Maricopa County, which Trump obsessed over.
  • “He wanted a certain outcome, and rather than taking responsibility for that outcome he pointed his fingers at other people,” said Kirk Adams, Ducey’s former chief of staff. “Donald Trump should have won Arizona, he could have won Arizona, and maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to dump on Arizona’s favorite son, John McCain, even after he passed away.”


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