Amid midterm disappointments, Trump grapples with political future
Donald Trump is looking to launch himself into a third presidential campaign after the midterm elections, riding a wave of Republican victories. Instead, he is emerging from a disappointing Tuesday election night facing questions about his political future and a boost behind his main opponent, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, in the 2024 primary race.
With key seats still up for grabs in Arizona and Nevada, and the Georgia Senate runoff, Trump entered Wednesday with some wins that could soon be overshadowed by more losses.
His nominees won open Senate seats in Ohio and North Carolina, while incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson won in Wisconsin. But he lost a crucial Senate race in Pennsylvania, where Mehmet Oz, whom he supported in the primary despite widespread concerns about his eligibility, defeated Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.
In Michigan, Trump’s gubernatorial candidate failed to impeach Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. While Republicans still appear on track to capture the House majority, it will be much smaller than initially thought.
“As powerful as Trump is in the Republican Party, we know he can’t just declare anybody the winner. We still need candidates with fundamentals,” said Brian Lanza, a longtime Trump adviser.
Others were more forthright in their assessment of the results known on Tuesday.
Texas Republican Troy Nehls, who won re-election and won Trump’s endorsement, held the former president responsible for other GOP candidates in a radio interview Wednesday.
“There are a lot of negative attitudes about Trump,” Nehls noted.
Early Wednesday morning, a current Trump adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, acknowledged that Trump was “in a tough spot to come out tonight.”
“There will be two stories going on next week, neither of which can be easily removed,” the consultant said.
Fully aware of his unprecedented votes in the Republican primary earlier this year, the adviser and other Trump allies are expected to blame the former president for empowering candidates who lost some of the party’s big races, notably Oz, the daytime talk show host. He lived in Pennsylvania before launching his Senate campaign.
Trump’s disappointment was palpable inside the gilded ballroom at his Mar-a-Lago estate, where he met with dozens of aides, allies and donors to watch the results Tuesday night. When he returned to the party in the middle of the night after a private party, his mood had obviously changed.
“Interesting night,” he told reporters before taking the stage to deliver brief, tepid remarks.
As the crowd thinned, Trump sat at a table with a handful of advisers in front of a television tuned to Fox News. Meanwhile, several guests listed on a VIP list sent to reporters by Trump advisers were nowhere to be found, including some who decided to skip the event, appearing as television guests throughout the night from studios in other parts of the country. .
The end result was the exact scenario Trump advisers had hoped to avoid: his top recruits failed and his main Republican rival rose as the new star.