Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is “working furiously” behind the scenes to thwart former President Donald Trump’s recruits in Republican Senate primaries, according to The New York Times.
McConnell has tried to recruit Trump foes into Senate races and has told senators and candidates about the “damage” he believes Trump has done to the party, according to the report.
McConnell has privately “declared he won’t let unelectable ‘goofballs’ win Republican primaries,” according to the Times.
Trump, of course, is also working to undermine McConnell, making him a frequent target of Trump’s statements.
Trump has backed a number of election conspiracists, candidates with no experience in politics, and fringe conservatives in key states where Republicans think they can win in November.
Despite the behind-the-scenes efforts, McConnell has struggled to get his way.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has repeatedly rejected attempts to recruit him into the state’s Republican Senate primary as Trump publicly assails him for not doing enough to help him overturn his election loss.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu also blindsided Republican leaders last month when he announced he would seek re-election rather than a Senate seat.
And Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan last week became the last popular Republican governor to beat back McConnell’s attempts to get him to run for Senate, raising the prospect that he may challenge Trump for the 2024 Republican nomination instead.
Trump struggles too:
But Trump has struggled too, recruiting candidates who appear to have little chance of winning over general election audiences. And his bite has lost some of its teeth.
“No one should be afraid of President Trump, period,” Maine Sen. Susan Collins told the Times.
McConnell recently warned donors that Trump will back the type of fringe candidates that cost the party Senate seats in 2010 and 2012.
“We changed the business model in 2014, and have not had one of these goofballs nominated since,” he said on a private conference call with donors.