Republicans’ chances of retaking the Senate may depend on whether former President Donald Trump remains in the same direction as the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Senate GOP campaign chief Steve Daines, R-Mont., is working hard to create a strategic partnership with Trump while weeding out weaker candidates.
The NRSC, under Daines, is taking a more robust approach to the nation’s primaries than it has for several years, and he told Politico in an interview at his committee office that he has a “strong relationship” with both Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“The common objective they both have is to win control of the United States Senate back and put it back in Republican hands,” he added.
Politico notes that if Trump were to endorse Daines’ preferred candidates, such as Tim Sheehy of Montana or West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, or even remain neutral, that could give the GOP a larger chance come primary season.
Daines endorsed Trump early during a podcast hosted by the former president’s son Don, and he said he speaks with Trump often as they work “closely together, collaboratively” to find candidates that can win both primary and general elections.
So far, Trump has backed only Rep. Jim Banks, who is running to represent Indiana in the Senate. The NRSC has also endorsed Banks.
“When the entire DC establishment was trying to force feed a RINO down our throats in Indiana, Daines stood up for conservatives and helped unite the party behind Jim Banks’ campaign for Senate,” Donald Trump Jr. said in a statement about the endorsement.
Meanwhile, McConnell has largely ignored Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021 events at the Capitol, which has put more pressure on Daines as the NRSC chairman.
Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., who was the chairman of the NRSC in 2020, praised him for recruiting “quality candidates” and for his money-raising skills, but said he also knows that the job as chairman boils down to working with Trump, who he says “lost the United States Senate in 2020.”
“He was concerned about himself, and harboring and indulging his grudges far more than he was advancing values important to Republicans,” Young told Politico. “I see no evidence that President Trump has changed.”
He said he’s looking for a candidate who can both defeat Trump in the primary and compete better in a general election, but Daines has been courting the former president for some time, starting with his April endorsement.
However, Trump is also hearing from other people, including Rep. Matt Gaetz, an ally of Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., who says Trump has seen polling showing Sheehy trailing behind the congressman in a hypothetical race.
Rosendale has not announced an official campaign.
While Daines and Trump enjoy a warm relationship, the senator is not the only person advising the former president. Trump has seen polling that shows Sheehy trailing badly in a potential primary against Rosendale.
“I’ve encouraged President Trump to support the anti-McConnell Republican in the race, Matt Rosendale,” Gaetz said, adding that the polling “cuts against what some McConnell allies have told him.”
Republicans also believe Trump can help them defeat Democrat incumbents in Ohio, West Virginia, and Montana, as he is popular in those states, but questions remain over how much he can help Republicans in other states.
Daines has been lining up recruits in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nevada, and says that as Trump is the only Republican presidential candidate to win Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin since the 1980s, it’s too early to say that he will be a “drag on the ticket in those states.”
However, Daines’ recruits in Pennsylvania, where David McCormick will launch his campaign this week, and former Rep. Mike Rogers in Michigan, have spoken critically of Trump. Still, the chairman says he is optimistic Trump will see they are the strongest candidates.
Rogers could face off against former Rep. Peter Meijer, who lost his reelection bid in reelection in 2022 after he voted to impeach Trump, and Daines said that may be an issue.
“Can he win a primary and a general election?” he said of Meijer. “That’s always the question.”
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.