Trump Looks To Remake House GOP in His Own Image

Whether they are in the majority or minority, the House Republican conference will almost universally be made up of those backed by the former president.

AP/Yuki Iwamura
President Trump on May 23, 2024, at the Bronx, New York. AP/Yuki Iwamura

President Trump will look to solidify his already strong grasp on the House Republican conference on Tuesday, as voters head to the polls in Virginia and Oklahoma to choose the GOP nominees for key House seats. 

Although there was never a large number of anti-Trump Republicans in the House, the new crop of legislators come 2025 will be more in the mold of Trump than ever before. 

In a sign of his already commanding strength of the congressional GOP, Trump returned to Capitol Hill on Thursday to meet with House and Senate Republicans — even those who had criticized and voted to impeach him in the past. He received a warm welcome even from Senator McConnell, who had not spoken to him since December 2020. 

Every single congressional candidate endorsed by Trump has been successful so far this year, according to Ballotpedia, though one of the former president’s toughest tests will come Tuesday in Virginia, where the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, Congressman Bob Good, is fighting back against a Trump-endorsed opponent. 

Trump announced on May 28 that he would be supporting a state senator, Navy SEAL, and conservative lawmaker of central Virginia, John McGuire. Mr. Good has an extremely conservative record as a House member, but has made enemies in Trump world who eventually led the former president to wade into the race. 

Mr. Good endorsed Governor DeSantis for president in May 2023, when it looked like the Florida governor could pose a serious challenge to Trump. The former president stayed on the sidelines for months even as one of his most devoted House acolytes, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, urged him to endorse Mr. McGuire. 

“Bob Good is BAD FOR VIRGINIA, AND BAD FOR THE USA,” Trump eventually wrote on Truth Social. “He turned his back on our incredible movement, and was constantly attacking and fighting me until recently, when he gave a warm and ‘loving’ Endorsement — But really, it was too late.”

Mr. McGuire has won the backing of a strange cross-section of Republicans, including Ms. Greene and Speaker McCarthy, as well as swing-district moderate members like Congresswoman Jen Kiggans. According to a recent poll by the Virginia Faith and Freedom Coalition, Mr. McGuire leads Mr. Good by 10 points in the primary election. 

Trump’s endorsement could also prove pivotal in the fate of the chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, Congressman Tom Cole, who is facing a wealthy, self-funding opponent. Mr. Cole has represented Oklahoma in the House for nearly 20 years. 

Trump endorsed him on May 7 even though his primary challenger, Paul Bondar, was portraying himself as the true Trump fighter that is needed in Congress. Mr. Bondar has given his campaign millions of dollars, but has also faced accusations of carpetbagging because he was a Texas resident as recently as 2022. 

Mr. Cole said in a statement after a recent meeting with Trump that he was looking forward “to working directly with President Trump to push … strong, commonsense solutions and curb the catastrophes of the Biden Administration.”

Later this summer, Trump will try to take out a key foe who evaded the former president’s wrath in 2022. Congressman Dan Newhouse is just one of two House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the January 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol, and Trump has endorsed the right-wing candidate challenging Mr. Newhouse in the primary. 

In April, Trump endorsed Jerrod Sessler, a staunch supporter of the former president who has gone after Mr. Newhouse over his impeachment vote. “Jerrod Sessler is a fantastic candidate and will be a GREAT Congressman for Washington State’s 4th Congressional District,” Trump said on Truth Social. Washington State voters will go to the polls in August. 

Working in coordination with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Trump has also been in lockstep with the chairman of the group, Senator Daines, about pushing pro-Trump, conservative candidates over the finish line in their respective primaries. 

Trump has endorsed Tim Sheehy to be the next senator from Montana, Sam Brown of Nevada, and Bernie Moreno of Ohio — all of whom went on to win their primaries. All three candidates will face off against Democratic senators. 

Trump’s takeover of the congressional GOP started in earnest in 2022, after loyalty to the former president became paramount amid the January 6 investigation and the clear signs Trump had sent that he would seek the 2024 GOP nomination. Eight of the 10 GOP members who voted for impeachment after January 6 either retired or were run out of the House by primary opponents backed by Trump. 

That year in the Senate, Trump was able to replace allies of Mr. McConnell with his own acolytes. Senator Portman was succeeded by Senator Vance after Trump endorsed Mr. Vance during a hotly contested 2022 primary.

Senator Burr was succeeded by Senator Budd after all Republicans were scared away from the 2022 North Carolina Senate race following Trump’s early endorsement of the conservative then-congressman. His former staff member, Max Miller, easily won a seat in Congress representing northeast Ohio with the Trump endorsement.


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