While much attention will be focused on the inevitable infighting of the upcoming Republican presidential primary field in 2024, there will likely also be another internal struggle for dominance and power within the GOP’s support system.
A battle is already brewing between various Republican organizations over which House and Senate candidates should be financially supported and backed as the party’s nominee in certain crucial and winnable races across the country, the Daily Caller reported.
The idea, apparently, is to try and avoid some of the tough fights in the 2022 midterms that resulted in some less-than-ideal GOP candidates winning their primary races but then going on to lose in decisive fashion to their likely beatable Democratic opponents in the general election.
Establishment vs. conservatives vs. populists
On the one side, according to the Daily Caller, are the more moderate and establishment-type groups like the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Senate Leadership Fund, while on the other side stands the more conservative-leaning Club for Growth nonprofit and its affiliated Super Pac, Club for Growth Action.
And, standing amid those factions are former President Donald Trump and his own influence-wielding allied groups, who undoubtedly will endorse and support the candidates that they believe align most closely with the former president and his particular agenda.
Those three main camps, plus other organizations that will likely become involved over time, have already begun to come into conflict as preparations are made for the 2024 primary cycle, especially with regard to the certainly achievable goal of reclaiming majority control of the Senate.
West Virginia to be a key battleground
One such example is in West Virginia, where Republicans are keen to oust vulnerable incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), but where there already appear to be three prominent Republicans who will be vying for the opportunity to do so — Democrat-turned-Republican Gov. Jim Justice, Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV), and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, per a February report from the Daily Caller.
The Club for Growth has already announced that it will oppose Gov. Justice, as he “would be in what we would call the moderate camp, so we wouldn’t support him in the primary,” according to CFG President David McIntosh. He added, “If there are two conservatives it’s a precarious situation where they’re going to cancel each other out and the moderate would win. So we’re going to wait and see if they’re both running, and then make a final call on that.”
However, the NRSC and SLF are recruiting Justice to run based on polls that show him defeating Manchin while Manchin would defeat both Mooney and Morrisey. An SLF spokesperson told the Daily Caller, “We’re going to be focused on getting nominees who can win their general election and help us take back the Senate Majority. That’s the goal.”
Potentially throwing an extra kink into that fight is Trump, who endorsed and supported Mooney in 2022 but has also been on good terms with Justice, who switched parties in 2017 over his support for the then-president.
Expect similar fights in Arizona, Michigan, Montana, and Ohio, among other states
Another example is in Montana, where incumbent Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) is also viewed as vulnerable and could face a tough GOP challenge from either businessman and veteran Tim Sheehy or Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT), according to Axios.
Sheehy is reportedly being recruited to run by the NRSC and SLF and is backed by most other incumbent Republicans in the state, while Rosendale has the support of the Club for Growth.
Trump could tip the balance in that contest as he has reportedly expressed interest in Sheehy and is feuding with both the Club for Growth as well as Rosendale for having slighted him during the contentious House Speaker fight in January.
The Daily Caller noted that similar internecine squabbles could soon emerge in a handful of other states — including Arizona, Michigan, and Ohio — as more candidates enter their respective primary races and the party-aligned apparatus and organizations, along with the former president, chooses sides.