House GOP campaign chief: Not helpful for Trump to meddle in primaries
Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), said Wednesday that is not helpful to the GOP’s goal of winning back a majority in the House to have former President Trump targeting incumbents in primary races.
Speaking at an event hosted by Politico, Emmer said he has not spoken to Trump directly about staying out of primary races involving the 10 House Republicans that voted to impeach Trump.
But he said that he believes Trump will listen to Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and other GOP leaders telling him “that’s not going to be helpful.”
“I imagine we’ll have a conversation at some point,” Emmer said. “He can do whatever he wants. Any citizen can do whatever he wants. But I’d tell him it’s better for us that we keep these people and have a majority that can be sustained going forward.”
Emmer said the NRCC will not intervene in primaries, even to protect incumbents.
Trump’s repeated claims that the election was stolen from him, which preceded the Jan. 6 siege on the Capitol, has split the GOP into warring factions between those who believe they must abandon Trumpism and those who maintain their loyalty to the former president.
Trump has vowed to retaliate against the Republicans who voted to impeach him or that held him responsible in any way for the riots that consumed Capitol Hill.
Trump has already endorsed a former White House aide who launched a primary challenge against Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), who voted to impeach Trump. The former president’s allies have also targeted two outspoken critics, Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), the third ranking House Republican, and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.).
Emmer on Wednesday also praised Trump, saying the policies he promoted — on trade, energy, immigration and an ethos of putting America first — would be undeniable winners for GOP candidates up and down the ticket.
“They’re hugely popular, brought a lot of new Republicans into the party and Republicans need to celebrate those policies going forward,” Emmer said.
Emmer, who is beginning his second cycle running the House GOP campaign arm, expressed confidence that Republicans would take back the House in 2022.
He said he wouldn’t be making many changes to the GOP’s 2020 strategy, when the party shocked Washington by flipping more than a dozen seats in a year when Trump lost the popular vote by more than 7 million.
“I’ll guarantee, we will win the majority,” Emmer said.
“I’m totally focused and we’re unified … on winning back a Republican majority,” he added. “You do that with great candidates, having the right message, and making sure you have the resources. We’ll follow that blueprint again and we’ll do even better this time.”
Democrats were expected to build on their majority in 2020 but instead lost 15 seats, giving them a 222 to 213 majority, the smallest in more than 100 years. Democrats lost several first-term lawmakers in swing districts that sent them to the majority in 2018, while no GOP incumbents lost.
Republicans need to flip only 5 seats to win a 218-217 majority, and the new president’s party usually loses more than a dozen seats in its first midterm cycle.
Still, Republicans have some unique hurdles to overcome.
The storming of the Capitol could leave a black mark on the party, as thousands of formerly registered Republicans across the country have abandoned the party. Corporate donors have said they will not support candidates who challenged the Electoral College results.
The House Democratic campaign arm is working to tie all Republicans to the fringe elements of the party and controversial new lawmakers, such as Rep. Marjorie Greene Taylor (R-Ga.), who has in the past embraced the QAnon conspiracy theory.
“We do not support any hate-based conspiracy groups or theories,” Emmer said. “We outright rejected it when it happened on the day of the riots … we’ve taken that position from day one and that won’t change.”
He said his plan for the cycle is to cast all Democrats as extremists beholden to the left-wing of their party. The NRCC will focus on tension between Democratic officials and teachers unions seeking to delay reopening schools, the Green New Deal, the progressives that have embraced the “Defund the Police” movement, and the 100 Democrats who voted this week to give voting rights to incarcerated individuals
“It will be very clear the choice between the Republican candidate in a district running against the radical socialist agenda being advanced, and that will determine the election,” Emmer said.