Sooner or later it had to come to this. You could feel it in your bones. Like two veteran boxers, they’ve been feinting and jabbing, keeping their mitts up, neither wanting to open himself up too early. But not for much longer.
It’s been bubbling under the surface for more than a year. After January 6th, Mitch McConnell was blunt and forceful in his condemnation of Trump for spearheading the insurrection. Trump lashed back out at McConnell, and McConnell backed off, moderating his comments, but without sniveling down to Mar-A-Lago for penance like Kreepy Kevin McCarthy.
McConnell and Trump have since largely ignored each other since then, and recent reporting shows that the two haven’t actually spoken in more than a year. Then the RNC boned the bow-wow with their censure of Kinzinger and Cheney. McConnell reiterated his January 7th condemnation, and this time didn’t bother backing down or moderating. Trump called McConnell a RINO, and demanded his ouster from leadership. It can’t get much worse than that.
Oh yes, it can. NBC News is reporting that while His Lowness is busy in Mar-A-Lago, vetting and endorsing his own slate of 2022 GOP Senate candidates, McConnell is quietly working behind the scenes and under the radar with his closest, most trusted aides and advisors, desperately working to interview and vet quality moderate GOP Senate candidates, as well as putting the arm on every money man connection he has in order to ensure that they’re well funded.
Welcome to the revolution my friends. These are the contours of the GOP civil war we’ve all been talking about. This is not some ragtag band of anti Trump crybabies, running around playing the political version of weekend militia. Mitch McConnell has been in the congress for as long as Biden. He is a master tactician, both legislatively as well as politically. And he has an underground network of sources and allies that Trump could only dream of.
This is worse for the GOP and the RNC than anything I had imagined, simply because of McConnell’s management and tactical skills. For instance, if McConnell is hitting up deep pocket donors to donate directly to the alternate slate of candidates McConnell is brewing up, you can bet your ass he’s telling the same donors to stop making donations to the RNC, so Trump doesn’t get the money to offset what McConnell spreads around to his candidates. If that works, the GOP House is fucked.
This is a disaster for Trump and the GOP simply because there are so many 2020 battleground states with 2022 Senate races. Pat Toomey is retiring in Pennsylvania. Trump had already made an endorsement, but that creep had to drop out after a personal scandal. Who does McConnell back? Remember, Trump lost Pennsylvania. Many people, myself included, believe that Trump personally cost the GOP at least one seat, if not both in Georgia. Who does McConnell run against Trump’s hand picked patsy? Richard Burr is stepping down in North Carolina, which has tended to be a swing state in recent years. With a booming tech sector, there are more liberals, and less Trombies. Who does McConnell go with?
But what’s even more fascinating and tantalizing for me is 3 states that nobody is talking about, because they all have incumbents up for reelection, but all 3 of them are either already on the ropes, or one staggering step away from the ropes. All three of them have been a pain in McConnell’s ass. If he wants a more malleable, easier to control Senate, does he mount a moderate primary challenge to these 3 incumbents? Especially if he’s already shut off the funski funding valve?
In Wisconsin, the Democrats are salivating at the thought of running a quality candidate against Ron Johnson. Johnson has become a political joke. Remember, Trump narrowly lost Wisconsin in 2020. Does McConnell run a moderate primary challenger against Johnson, hoping to take him out, and remove some of the Democrats campaign fodder, increasing his odds of winning in November?
In Missouri, Josh Hawley is already in deep doo-doo. He is an admitted pro insurrectionist, having been caught on video power saluting from the steps of the Capitol before they decided to come on in and join him and the guys and gals. Hawley’s earliest endorser, and biggest financial backer has already announced that he will spend every penny he has to deny Hawley another term. McConnell flatly demanded that every GOP Senator vote NO on any House challenges to state electoral results. Hawley became one of the first to defy him. Does McConnell try to clean house, and get a little payback in the process?
And finally we come to Florida. Marco Rubio may as well give up politics and go to work for the traveling circus as The Incredible Human Pretzel! He has contorted himself into every geometric form possible trying to remain somehow independent without offending Trump. Does McConnell pose a moderate challenge, try to get rid of a Trump toady, and get an incumbent more personally loyal? He better, because from where I’m sitting, Val Demmings is capable of giving Rubio more than he wants, and then dishing out seconds.
This is critical because it not only puts the control of the Senate in jeopardy, it puts the House seriously back in play too. Because everybody has known all along that Trump was going to be fielding and endorsing his own slate of candidates, House and Senate. And primaries being what they are, if Trombies are motivated, the Traitor Tot slate goes on to November, and probable election. At least half of the GOP is sick to death of Trump. In a recent poll, only 50% wanted him to be the candidate in 2024. If McConnell can field an acceptable field of Senate candidates, and fund them, all bets are off. Because if McConnell is able to give moderate GOP voters a good, optimistic reason to show up and vote in the primaries to take their party back, it won’t just be Trump Senate acolytes and incumbents who get ousted, Trombie challengers and incumbents in House races will get swept away too. Because these people want their party back! And the ones who survive will find themselves facing a prospect similar to 2018. Moderate GOP voters will either stay home in protest, or hold their noses and vote for Democrats in order to purge their ranks of Trombies.
My advice is to start husbanding your sick and vacation time to take primary Tuesday nights off this year. Mitch McConnell is a master tactician, and as Machiavellian as hell. If NBC News is reporting this, they’re reporting it for two reasons. One, McConnell wants them to report it, he wants to throw that gauntlet at Hair Twitler’s feet, he’s sick of his shit. Two, McConnell wants the GOP base to keep their eyes and ears open. Help is on the way, and they can take their party back. McConnell has absolutely nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
And now to close this on a high note. From here on out, no matter what happens, it’s good news for Democrats. If McConnell did his job, and slowed the big money donations to the RNC to support his slate, then the RNC is going to be cash strapped. Not just for the primaries, but for the general election, because you fundraise through the primaries to build a war chest. If McConnell fields a Senate slate, those are going to be brutal, bloody battles, and whomever survives will be weakened and cash depleted. But House races need money too. And if McConnell gets deep pocket donors to donate directly to candidates rather than the RNC, then Trombie candidates will suffer the most. Strap in, it’s gonna be a helluva ride.