Potomac Politics: Trump looms over Republican party as 2022 primaries get underway
<br>Vance owed his victory to a late endorsement by former President Donald Trump, whose grip on the Republican party faced and cleared its first electoral test. Trump has endorsed many Republican candidates and nearly 40 of them will be facing their primaries this month, further testing his hold.
"I have absolutely got to think the 45th president (of) United States Donald J. Trump," Vance said in a victory speech in Cincinnati, Ohio. The media, he added, "wanted to write a story that this campaign would be the death of Donald Trump's America First agenda. Ladies and gentlemen it ain't the death of the America first agenda".
Vance, whose memoir "Hillbilly Elegy" became a Netflix film, had once called Trump an "idiot". He had since changed and became a loyalist and it paid off. He was languishing in the primary for the US senate from Ohio until Trump endorsed him mid-April, giving his polls a boost that carried him through to victory. Trump himself had won Ohio by wide margins in both 2016 and 2020; his word counts there.
Unlike past US presidents Trump has not retired from active politics. Operating from Mar-a-Lago, his club and home in Florida, Trump has stayed very engaged and kept a tight grip on the Republican party. Detractors have had to either toe the line, such as the Republican leader in the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy, or leave politics and that is a long list.
A recent ABC/Washington Post showed 60 per cent of Republican and Republican-leaning voters want the Republican party to follow his leadership and 34 per cent want it to go in another direction.
Trump's support among Republicans has remained unchanged from 57 per cent just days after the January 6 insurrection in 2021, although it is down considerably from 76 per cent in 2018, when he was still in power.
The former president has also endorsed candidates running against state Republican leaders who refused to cooperate with him in furthering his lies about the 2020 presidential election, which he has continued to maintain, falsely, was stolen from him, such as Georgia state's Republican governor Brian Kemp and secretary of state Brad Raffensperger.
He has also withdrawn his endorsement of Mo Brooks, an Alabama congressman who was once a staunch loyalist but has since turned.
The primary season that got underway Tuesday for both Republican and Democrats will lead up the November midterm elections when all 435 seats of the House of Representatives and a third of 100-member senate will be up for grabs. Republicans are widely expected to win control of the House.
That could set up Trump's second run for the White House. He has teased its possibility and many experts and political pundits expect him to run. But that has not stopped other Republicans -- Florida governor Ron DeSantis is already a favorite and there is Ted Cruz, the Texas senator who finished second against Trump in 2016.