The Republican Party was long ago shaped to Donald Trump’s will. However, this week has revealed the former president’s dominance in its fullest form.
Within a matter of only 72 hours, Trump spearheaded the effort to derail a carefully crafted border-security compromise in Congress, expelled the chair of the Republican National Committee, and humiliated his last surviving presidential primary opponent in Nevada.
The weight of Trump’s influence and the party’s paranoid “Stop the Steal” tone were both felt nationwide.
On Thursday, Trump easily won the Nevada caucuses, which were organised by a state party whose chair was indicted for fraudulently pretending to be an elector for Trump in 2020. Meanwhile, in a lawsuit that challenged his presidential eligibility, the Supreme Court seemed to go heavily behind Trump.
“He’s got a stronghold,” remarked Amy Tarkanian, a GOP veteran and advisor in Nevada. It’s a problem in the House as well as among Republicans. What is it? I am at a loss for words. What has been done in terms of brainwashing is really astounding to me.
The crushing loss that Nikki Haley suffered in Tuesday’s Nevada primary was meant to humiliate her for daring to confront him; his supporters had pushed Republicans to choose “none of these candidates” over her. On Thursday, Trump continued his march to the GOP’s nominating convention in Milwaukee by sweeping the state’s caucus.
In response to a demand from Trump, Republican senators in Washington retreated from their earlier support for bipartisan legislation addressing immigration and foreign assistance, and subsequently obstructed its passage. After Trump made it obvious he wanted major “changes” at the RNC, Ronna McDaniel, who was chair, essentially tendered her resignation to him after the South Carolina primary on February 24. Also scheduled to go later this month is Mike Reed, who has served as chief of staff for the party.
On X, Trump advisor Jason Miller cited a Fox News article that stated Trump suggested Michael Whatley—who has repeated Trump’s unfounded accusations of extensive election fraud—as a potential replacement for McDaniel.
Members of the MAGA party met in an X Spaces to celebrate McDaniel’s defenestration when the news broke. The notorious election sceptic and challenger to independent Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema—who was involved in the negotiations of the border deal—Kari Lake, who is seeking to depose Sinema, enthusiastically embraced the changes at the head of the Republican Party. Some others, including the recently ousted House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, listed their preferred choices to head the Republican Party. It seems like all the things that prominent folks like Lake were advocating for were validated this week.
She announced her intention to return to Arizona and framed her involvement as a way to support Trump and his movement. “And I’ll be walking around with my trusty sledgehammer.”
It was clear from Trump and his associates’ power moves that he was still very much in charge of the Republican Party. Beyond that, they demonstrated the continued dominance of the party’s election-denying faction, which persists despite Republicans’ 2020 loss of the presidency, 2022 midterm underperformance, and other special election defeats.
“I’ve never doubted his ability to win the nomination—his grip on the party is complete,” said Jeff Timmer, a former executive director of the Michigan Republican Party and senior consultant to the anti-Trump Lincoln Project.
The political momentum is steadily building behind Trump. While Haley is well ahead of him in her native state of South Carolina, he has opened up a 17-point lead among the states that will be considered Super Tuesday on March 5, including Massachusetts, where she is likely to have the best opportunity of achieving her maiden victory.
Despite Trump’s upward trajectory, there were some red flags this week over the potential impact of his party control on the GOP’s chances in November. It was implied in a harsh decision from a Washington appeals court that it would deny Trump’s request for immunity from criminal charges related to his attempt to impact the 2020 election.
Even while the Supreme Court had previously been hostile to Trump’s attempts to deny his election, it appeared to tip the scales in his favour on Thursday when it reviewed a Colorado verdict that had found him ineligible to be listed on the state’s ballot according to the 14th Amendment. With the release of his findings into President Joe Biden’s handling of classified materials, the special counsel investigating the matter also presented Trump with a political favour. Despite concluding that no criminal proceedings are justified, the investigation painted an inaccurate picture of Biden’s mental capacity.
Republican state senator Josh Kimbrell of South Carolina, who formerly backed Florida governor Ron DeSantis but now supports Trump, said, “At this point, it’s time for the party just to unite” after the Iowa caucuses. What Governor Haley is doing hurts our chances of winning in November, in my opinion. There’s a lot of bloodshed between Republicans. She will lose her home state and it isn’t helping. Listen, it’s not good when you let ‘nobody’ take Nevada.
Haley and Biden attempted to portray the events of the week as grounds to reject Trump, even though the 14th Amendment and immunity questions are still making their way through the courts, along with the remaining Trump accusations in Georgia, New York, and Washington. She stated that Republicans will be defeated in November due to the same Trump-instigated GOP turmoil that has made him unstoppable in the primary.
In an address to Manhattan contributors, Biden lamented the fact that legislation, even on what are ostensibly Republican grounds, had become impossible under Trump’s GOP rule. “Republican lawmakers are walking away because they’ve got Donald Trump calling and threatening them,” Biden bemoaned.
Despite the MAGAs’ incessant boasting about his chess prowess, he is hopeless at checkers. According to Timmer, it is the true essence of this immigration measure. “The Republicans have severely inflated their position on this, creating a window of opportunity for Biden and his stakeholder world to completely reverse his fortunes.”