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 ShelbyOn The Money: Sanders: Democrats considering trillion spending package | Weekly jobless claims rise for first time since April Shelby signals GOP can accept Biden's .5T with more for defense Senate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior 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 ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.) is retiring, Trump’s Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite and his ambassador to Denmark, Carla Sands, are both weighing bids.


Former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard GrenellRichard GrenellGrenell still interested in California recall bid Cleveland businessman jumps into Ohio Senate race: Trump 'victories' need to be protected Tanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief MORE is being encouraged by Trump allies to run for governor of California if Gavin NewsomGavin Newsom70 percent of Californians over 12 have received one shot of coronavirus vaccine California debates extending eviction moratorium to pay off all past-due rent from pandemic 'Aggressive individual' arrested after interaction with Newsom MORE is recalled. Former White House spokeswoman Sarah HuckabeeSarah SandersTrump expected to resume rallies in June Andrew Giuliani planning run for New York governor Trump appears at Sarah Huckabee Sanders campaign event MORE Sanders is already running for governor of Arkansas, where term-limited Gov. Asa HutchinsonAsa HutchinsonDemocrat Chris Jones enters Arkansas governor race with dramatic viral video DOJ to states: Bans on transgender youth health care are unconstitutional The states taking steps to ban critical race theory 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 WrightNew Mexico Democrat Stansbury sworn into Haaland's old seat House Democrats unveil .9 billion bill to boost security after insurrection Carter sworn in as House member to replace Richmond, padding Democrats' majority 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 BarlettaThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden wants Congress to pass abortion bill, pushes for Mideast cease-fire Ex-GOP Rep. Lou Barletta launches bid for Pennsylvania governor Republicans vie for Trump's mantle in Pa. Senate primary 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.


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 TrumpNYC voters set to decide Vance's replacement amid Trump probe Ukraine sanctions two businessmen tied to Giuliani Michael Cohen predicts Trump will turn on family after revelation of criminal probe MORE and Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump discussed sending infected Americans to Guantanamo Bay: book NYC voters set to decide Vance's replacement amid Trump probe Kushner lands book deal, slated for release in 2022 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 RatcliffeCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Five things to know about the new spotlight on UFOs Extraordinary explanations for UFOs look increasingly plausible 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 TrumpGuardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa wins GOP primary in NYC mayor's race Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump Schumer vows next steps after 'ridiculous,' 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster MORE did,” Blanchard said.

It’s lining up to be a staunch pro-Trump field throughout, with Reps. Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson Brooks14 Republicans vote against making Juneteenth a federal holiday Mo Brooks accuses Swalwell attorney who served papers on his wife of trespassing Shelby backs ex-aide over Trump-favored candidate in Alabama Senate race MORE (R-Ala.) and Gary PalmerGary James PalmerMo Brooks launches Senate bid in Alabama Former Trump officials eye bids for political office The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - Senate trial will have drama, but no surprise ending 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.”


Trump’s allies, including Fox News host Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityPoll: 30 percent of GOP voters believe Trump will 'likely' be reinstated this year Book claims Trump believed Democrats would replace Biden with Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama in 2020 election 9 Republicans not named Trump who could run in 2024 MORE and Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzKatie Hill says 'it would take a lot' to convince her to run again for House GOP divided over bills targeting tech giants Kinzinger: Conspiracy theory FBI planned Jan. 6 example of 'legacy of Trump and Trumpism' 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 CarlsonHow critical race theory became today's defining culture-war issue Tucker Carlson on running for president: 'I guess if like I was the last person on Earth' New York Times: Tucker Carlson a source for many journalists 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.”