Trump takes two punches from GOP


It’s been a tough week for former President TrumpDonald TrumpMyPillow CEO to pull ads from Fox News Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections Simone Biles, Vince Lombardi and the courage to walk away MORE.

Trump’s preferred candidate in a special House election in Texas lost on Tuesday to another Republican who was likely boosted by some protest votes against the former president. And on Wednesday, 17 Senate Republicans voted to advance a bipartisan infrastructure deal that Trump spent weeks railing against.

While Trump remains a towering figure in the GOP, the back-to-back blows have led some to question whether his influence may have started to wane since he left office.

“Trump has not had a big win in quite a while,” Alex Conant, a Republican strategist, said. “I think without wins, his political capital is depleted.”

“Donald Trump does not have a post-presidential strategy,” he added. “He is overexposed at the same time that he’s not getting enough attention. He’s giving lots of speeches and traveling the country, but other than his narrow base no one’s really paying attention and I think that limits his influence.”

Trump received a blow to his endorsing power this week when Susan Wright, his candidate-of-choice in a runoff election for Texas’s 6th Congressional District, lost to fellow Republican Jake Ellzey.

One former Trump adviser dismissed the idea that Wright’s loss on Tuesday and the Senate’s infrastructure vote had dealt a blow to the former president’s influence over the GOP, blaming the upsets on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAn August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done After police rip Trump for Jan. 6, McCarthy again blames Pelosi The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by Facebook – US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands MORE (R-Ky.) and the conservative Club for Growth, which had encouraged Trump to endorse Wright.

“It’s absurd to think that you can take anything away from the Texas race or the Senate vote,” the adviser said. “There are a million issues at play here and it’s got nothing to do with President Trump.”

Trump himself disputed Wright’s defeat will damage his reputation in primaries, arguing the GOP won the race regardless.

One former Trump White House official similarly downplayed the long-term significance of Wright’s defeat, but acknowledged Trump must be careful in rushing to endorse candidates. The official said some allies have pushed the former president to endorse early in competitive contests like the Ohio Senate race, but that doing so could backfire.

Some Republicans are already worried that could be the case in Georgia, where Trump has thrown his weight behind former NFL player Herschel Walker.

Some Republicans have expressed similar concerns in North Carolina, where Trump has endorsed Rep. Ted BuddTheodore (Ted) Paul BuddSchumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up Pro-impeachment Republicans outpace GOP rivals in second-quarter fundraising Trump, GOP return to border to rev up base MORE (R-N.C.) in a hotly contested GOP Senate primary. Budd is up against two high-profile challengers, including former Gov. Pat McCrory, who has a better fundraising record than Budd – and a track record of winning statewide.

Trump’s grip over House Republicans remains solid, those close to the former president say. House GOP members regularly travel to meet Trump at his properties in Florida and New Jersey, and the caucus has largely purged itself of Trump critics.

But the same cannot be said about the Senate, where Republicans appear more willing to move on from the former president.

A Wednesday vote by the Senate to advance a sweeping infrastructure package only served to deepen questions about Trump’s influence. The former president had lobbied against the deal for weeks, issuing half-a-dozen statements urging Republicans to abandon negotiations with Democrats.

It wasn’t just Trump’s Republican detractors that broke with him on the infrastructure deal. Among the 17 Republicans who voted to take up debate on the proposal were some of his most ardent allies, including Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by Facebook – US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – A huge win for Biden, centrist senators The 17 Republicans who voted to advance the Senate infrastructure bill MORE (R-S.C.) and Kevin CramerKevin John CramerThe Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by Facebook – US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – A huge win for Biden, centrist senators GOP senator clashes with radio caller who wants identity of cop who shot Babbitt MORE (R-N.D.). Several GOP incumbents facing reelection next year also voted to…

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