SPONSORED:

Former Trump officials eye bids for political office

Former Trump administration officials are testing the waters for political office, underscoring the former president’s lasting influence on the Republican Party as it searches for a post-Trump identity.

Cliff Sims, the former deputy at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) who is close with several Trump family members, is seriously considering getting into the race to replace retiring Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyBlack Caucus members lobby Biden to tap Shalanda Young for OMB head On The Money: Senate panels postpone Tanden meetings in negative sign | Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers Passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy MORE (R-Ala.). Trump’s former ambassador to Slovenia, Lynda Blanchard, a top Trump donor, has already entered that primary as a “proud member of the MAGA movement.”

In Pennsylvania, where Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyPhilly GOP commissioner on censures: 'I would suggest they censure Republican elected officials who are lying' Toomey censured by several Pennsylvania county GOP committees over impeachment vote Toomey on Trump vote: 'His betrayal of the Constitution' required conviction MORE (R-Pa.) is retiring, Trump’s Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite and his ambassador to Denmark, Carla Sands, are both weighing bids.

ADVERTISEMENT

Former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard GrenellRichard GrenellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Tanden's odds plummet to lead OMB Former Trump officials eye bids for political office Grenell congratulates Buttigieg on becoming second openly gay Cabinet member MORE is being encouraged by Trump allies to run for governor of California if Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - J&J A-OK, Tanden in Trouble California law will send 0 direct payments to low-income residents Democrats look to improve outreach to Asian and Latino communities MORE is recalled. Former White House spokeswoman Sarah HuckabeeSarah SandersWe knew media would coddle Biden — here's why it's much worse House Republican condemns anti-Trump celebrities during impeachment hearing Sarah Sanders on Trump's reported war dead criticism: 'Those comments didn't happen' MORE Sanders is already running for governor of Arkansas, where term-limited Gov. Asa HutchinsonAsa HutchinsonTrump to attend private RNC donor retreat The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Tanden's odds plummet to lead OMB Former Trump officials eye bids for political office MORE (R) has emerged as an outspoken Trump critic.

The jockeying is also playing out in House races, with Trump campaign adviser Katrina Pierson having been approached about running to replace the late Rep. Ron WrightRon WrightSusan Wright, wife of Texas congressman who died of COVID-19, announces run for seat The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Tanden's odds plummet to lead OMB Former Trump officials eye bids for political office MORE (R-Texas) and former White House aide Max Miller is preparing a primary challenge against Rep. Anthony Gonzales (R-Ohio), who voted to impeach Trump.

Republicans say the maneuvering among Trump’s allies is indicative of the former president’s continuing popularity with grassroots conservatives who are eager for the next wave of leaders to take up his mantle.

“It’s still Trump’s party and he may actually have gained in popularity [with the GOP base] since impeachment,” said former Rep. Lou BarlettaLouis (Lou) James BarlettaFormer Trump officials eye bids for political office 10 bellwether counties that could signal where the election is headed Bottom Line MORE (R-Pa.). “Many Trump supporters felt everyone was against him from the beginning when he was coming down the escalator and it hasn’t stopped since he left office. If the Democratic goal was to disqualify him, they may have just made him larger.”

In deep-red Alabama, the race to replace Shelby could turn on which candidate is seen as the closest to Trump.

Sources tell The Hill that Sims, the former White House aide who also spent time at ODNI, is seriously weighing a bid.

ADVERTISEMENT

Sims appeared to have a brief falling out with Trump after the release of his best-selling book “Team of Vipers,” which was unsparing in its critique of several White House officials working under Trump.

But Sims is close with Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka TrumpIvanka TrumpTrump Jr. was deposed in inauguration funds probe Former Trump officials eye bids for political office The Hill's Morning Report - Disaster politics hobble Cruz, Cuomo MORE and Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerBiden to speak with Saudi king 'soon' as pressure builds for Khashoggi report Biden to speak with Saudi king ahead of Khashoggi report: report Former Trump officials eye bids for political office MORE. After his White House stint, he was brought on by the Republican National Committee to oversee speechwriting at the 2020 convention before moving to his post at ODNI under then-director John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeFormer Trump officials eye bids for political office Grenell congratulates Buttigieg on becoming second openly gay Cabinet member Senate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official MORE.

“Cliff has a keen understanding of important national security issues like the rise of China and he’s a true believer in the conservative America First movement,” Ratcliffe said in a statement to The Hill. “Most importantly though, Cliff has a servant’s heart and if he decides to run, I’m confident that no one would fight harder for the people of Alabama.”

Blanchard, the Trump donor and former ambassador to Slovenia, got an early jump on the field, releasing a video announcement pledging she would carry on Trump’s legacy.

“We will give the swamp a heckuva dose of the common sense and conservative principle that it needs to truly make America great again – just like President TrumpDonald TrumpDonald Trump Jr. calls Bruce Springsteen's dropped charges 'liberal privilege' Schiff sees challenges for intel committee, community in Trump's shadow McConnell says he'd back Trump as 2024 GOP nominee MORE did,” Blanchard said.

It’s lining up to be a staunch pro-Trump field throughout, with Reps. Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksTrump to reemerge on political scene at CPAC Former Trump officials eye bids for political office Trump's Slovenia Ambassador Lynda Blanchard jumps into Alabama Senate race MORE (R-Ala.) and Gary PalmerGary James PalmerFormer Trump officials eye bids for political office The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - Senate trial will have drama, but no surprise ending Shelby's retirement tees off GOP scramble for Alabama Senate seat MORE (R-Ala.), as well as businesswomen Jessica Taylor and Katie Boyd Britt, believed to be considering bids.

“Trump has a 90 percent favorability rating in Alabama. If you’re running in a Republican primary here, why would you not get as close to him as possible?” said Brent Buchanan, a veteran GOP operative from Alabama. “The challenge becomes when you have four people in the race identifying as MAGA members. The other component is going to be what fundraising looks like in that scenario.”

In Pennsylvania, Trump-aligned Republicans are lining up to replace Toomey, who infuriated some conservatives in his home state by voting to convict Trump for inciting a riot.

Braithwaite, the former Navy secretary under Trump, is expected to run.

A spokesperson for Sands, a businesswoman and former ambassador to Denmark who moved to Pennsylvania last year, said she’s looking at running “because our country is on the wrong track.”

Army veteran Sean Parnell, who is close with Donald Trump Jr., could also get in the race.

“Trump is very popular among Republican primary voters in Pennsylvania,” said Barletta. “I believe it would be very difficult for those who oppose Trump and his policies to win a primary here.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump’s allies, including Fox News host Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityCruz blames criticism of Cancun trip on media 'Trump withdrawal' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Tanden's odds plummet to lead OMB Former Trump officials eye bids for political office MORE and Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzTrump to reemerge on political scene at CPAC Former Trump officials eye bids for political office Cancun fallout threatens to deal lasting damage to Cruz MORE (R-Fla.), have publicly advocated for Grenell, the former ambassador to Germany and acting DNI, to run for governor of California if Newsom is recalled.

Sources say Grenell is considering it, although he acknowledged on Hannity’s show earlier this month that any Republican running for statewide office in California is “going to have a real tough time.”

Hannity himself has long been rumored to be considering a run for office in New York, while another ally of the former president, fellow Fox News host Tucker CarlsonTucker CarlsonTucker Carlson bashes CNN, claims it's 'more destructive' than QAnon Former Trump officials eye bids for political office Jill Biden picks up where she left off MORE, is getting some buzz to run for the White House in 2024.

In Arkansas, Sanders, a former White House press secretary under Trump, is the front-runner since launching her bid for the governor’s mansion with Trump’s support. That’s in contrast to the current governor Hutchinson, who has been making the rounds urging the GOP to move on from Trump.

In Ohio’s 16th Congressional District, Miller, the former White House and campaign aide, is said to be looking at a primary challenge against Gonzalez, a two-term lawmaker. Miller could be one of several challengers to the 10 House members that voted to impeach Trump.

Pierson, who was with the Trump campaign from the start in 2016, has heard from Texas Republicans and Trump allies encouraging her to run to replace Ron Wright, the longtime Dallas-area House member who died of lung cancer earlier this month. Sources say she’s seriously considering it.

“Trump is going to be relevant everywhere across the country in Republican primaries,” said Buchanan. “The president has an incredibly loyal base.”