Regardless of whether Republicans retake control of the upper chamber next year, the Republican caucus that emerges from the midterms will undoubtedly move to the right as GOP candidates across the country vie to out-MAGA each other in their primaries.
The Senate Republican caucus that emerges was already bound to be less beholden to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as Donald Trump plays kingmaker in some critical swing-state contests in, for instance, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.
But in addition to those races, several Trump-aligned candidates in states where Republicans will almost certainly prevail are not only pledging their loyalty to Trump but also serving notice to McConnell that his days may be numbered.
Trump-backed Kelly Tshibaka, who is challenging Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski for her Alaska seat, is the latest GOP Senate hopeful to say she'll vote to send McConnell packing if elected, according to Politico.
"When I defeat Murkowski and become Alaska’s next U.S. Senator, I will not support Mitch McConnell as leader," Tshibaka told Steve Bannon in a Monday appearance on his War Room podcast. "It’s time for new, America First leadership in the Senate.”
Tshibaka's pronouncement sounds a similar note to that of Missouri Senate candidate and disgraced former governor Eric Greitens, who also appeared on Bannon's podcast to serve notice to McConnell.
"We've got to have new leadership in the Senate. The Republican Party is now the MAGA Party," Greitens said. "No more weak, woke, establishment Republicans!" Greitens added when he tweeted out the clip.
Another Trump toady, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, who is running for that state’s open seat, has hinted at something similar.
"I will support the candidate for Senate majority leader who is the most conservative and best reflects the values of Alabama citizens," he told Politico early this month. Brooks was a bit cagey, saying McConnell “could” get his vote. But he wouldn’t commit, as if he were still hedging his bets on whether the McConnell or Trump wing of the party ultimately prevails. That type of slippery answer also isn't panning out well for Brooks, who is underperforming in his race despite Trump’s endorsement and recently shook up his campaign staff.
But expect to see more anti-McConnell pledges as GOP candidates continue to compete for Trump's endorsement in ruby-red states where whoever wins the primary is a shoo-in for the Senate.
If and when they get there, McConnell could have a real problem on his hands.
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