The GOP establishment does everything it can to placate Trump in the hopes that his worst instincts will be held in check. And what better way to placate Trump than to shovel money into his pockets? Last month, for example, the RNC paid Trump $175,000 to use Mar-A-Lago for a few meetings during their donor retreat, which was held at the Four Seasons in Palm Beach. That didn't prevent Trump from telling the assembled donors and staffers that McConnell is a "dumb son of a bitch" and a "stone cold loser." Republican candidates hoping for Trump's endorsement routinely hold events at Mar-A-Lago, putting thousands of dollars into Trump's business. Over $25 million-- quite the grift-- has flowed from the GOP into Trump properties since he was first elected.
As happy as Trump is to take their cash, he hasn't stopped interfering in Republican primaries in ways that infuriate GOP congressional leaders. The other day he officially endorsed Alaska right-wing extremist and homophobic sociopath Kelly Tshibaka against mainstream conservative incumbent Lisa Murkowski, putting a safe Republican seat in jeopardy. "Lisa Murkowski is bad for Alaska... Murkowski has got to go!" Other MAGA characters like Corey Lewandowski, Bill Stephen and Brad Pascale have also endorsed Tshibaka, while Murkowski has been endorsed by Mitch McConnell, Dan Sullivan, John Barrasso, Susan Collins and... Joe Manchin. In a jungle primary, this could throw the election to progressive Democratic state Senator Elvi Gray-Jackson, who represents downtown Anchorage.
Trump is also interfering in favor of less electable extremists and against more mainstream conservatives in other races around the country, most recently in North Carolina, where he endorsed far right Congressman Ted Budd over former Governor Pat McCrory. This is another race where Trump may be helping elect a Democrat.
Today Syracuse's Post-Standard reported that Trump has offered to back a primary challenger-- so far there isn't one-- against John Katko, a Republican mainstreamer in a blue district. Trump lost NY-24 both times he ran while Katko won each time, despite formidable Democratic challenges. Last year, Biden beat Trump 53.4% to 44.4% in the district while Katko was reelected 53.1% to 43.0%. This is a classic case of where the Trumpist movement can defeat a mainstream conservative in a primary who will then be destroyed in a general election. This is the handwritten note Trump sent to the chairman of the Onondaga County Conservative Party after the Conservative Party-- although not the Republican Party-- dumped Katko. Trump sent the note by express delivery in an envelope with the presidential seal.
“A great move,” Trump wrote in the letter. “Katko will never win again. He is bad news. Please thank all including those in Wayne and Cayuga-- and now Onondaga.”
Trump added, “I won big in area. Will help with campaign-- find a great candidate.”
The former president signed a corner of the page with his oversized signature: “Best wishes, Donald J. Trump.”
In last year’s presidential election, President Joe Biden defeated Trump by 9 percentage points in Katko’s 24th Congressional District. Trump carried the district’s outlying rural counties by wide margins.
Katko, R-Camillus, received more votes than Trump in the district in both the 2016 and 2020 elections.
Katko is also the only one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump who still does not face a Republican primary challenger.
House Republican leaders, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, have stood by Katko since the impeachment vote.
GOP leaders elevated Katko in January to a more visible post as the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee. In that post, Katko has raised his profile nationally as a top critic of Biden’s immigration policies.
Trump has publicly criticized all 10 GOP members, calling them “political hacks” that Republicans need to “get rid of” for the sake of party unity.
The letter delivered to Ment today was also addressed to Ronald Greenleaf, chairman of the Oswego County Conservative Committee.
Both Ment and Greenleaf told Syracuse.com in the April 23 article that their party committees decided they won’t endorse Katko for the Conservative Party ballot line next year.
Katko, a four-term Republican, has appeared on the Conservative Party ballot line in each of his campaigns for Congress.
Conservative committees in Cayuga County and Wayne County-- the other counties in the four-county 24th Congressional District-- had previously decided to withhold their endorsement from Katko over his impeachment vote.
So far, no Republican or Conservative Party member has publicly announced a bid to challenge Katko next year... Conservative Party leaders will likely wait for New York state to complete its once-a-decade redistricting process before choosing a challenger to Katko, Ment said.