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Trump allies line up ahead of potentially bruising primaries

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpGOP-led Maricopa County board decries election recount a 'sham' Analysis: Arpaio immigration patrol lawsuit to cost Arizona county at least 2 million Conservatives launch 'anti-cancel culture' advocacy organization MORE’s pledge to line up an army of loyalists to run in the 2022 midterm elections is beginning to take shape.

Two allies of the former president, Rep. Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksDemocrat moves to censure three Republicans for downplaying Jan. 6 Republicans embrace Trump in effort to reclaim Senate Democrats warn Waters censure move opens floodgates MORE (R-Ala.) and former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, jumped into the open Senate races in Alabama and Missouri on Monday evening. Trump hasn’t weighed in on either race yet, but both candidates are touting themselves as acolytes of the former president who would build on his ultra-conservative political legacy.

Meanwhile, in Georgia, Trump has thrown his support behind Rep. Jody HiceJody Brownlow HiceRomney: Capitol riot was 'an insurrection against the Constitution' Democrat moves to censure three Republicans for downplaying Jan. 6 GOP downplays Jan. 6 violence: Like a 'normal tourist visit' MORE (R-Ga.), who is running to oust Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. That endorsement marks a high-profile effort by Trump to exact political revenge on a fellow Republican who rejected the former president’s pleas to overturn the results of the state’s presidential election.

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The campaigns by hard-right politicians offer Trump perhaps his best chance to cement his grip on the Republican Party in his post-presidential life. But it is also likely to do little to unify a party that has wrestled with deep internal and ideological divisions since losing the White House and its Senate majority in recent months.

Speaking in his hometown of Huntsville, Ala., on Monday night, Brooks left no question about where his political allegiances lie, spending the bulk of his 40-plus-minute speech echoing Trump’s baseless assertions that the 2020 election had been “stolen” from him and claiming that the U.S. was besieged from within by “socialist” forces in the Democratic Party.

He was joined at his campaign announcement by Stephen MillerStephen MillerLawsuit from Stephen Miller group alleges racial discrimination in distribution of COVID-19 relief Yang: Those who thought tweet in support of Israel was 'overly simplistic' are correct Yang's tweet in support of Israel draws praise from conservatives MORE, the former Trump adviser and architect of some of the administration’s hard-line immigration policies, who cast Brooks as Trump’s most loyal ally in the House and a disciple of his so-called America First agenda.

“For the last five years, I’ve been senior adviser to President Donald Trump and I can tell you that nobody over the last four years has had President Trump’s back more than Mo Brooks,” Miller said as he announced his endorsement of the Alabama congressman. “Your vote for Mo Brooks will allow him to carry on the America First agenda.”

Greitens, who resigned as governor amid scandal nearly three years ago, is also hoping to ride Trump’s coattails in the Missouri Senate race. He announced his campaign during an appearance on Fox News on Monday, during which he portrayed himself as a bulwark against the leadership of President BidenJoe BidenBiden's quiet diplomacy under pressure as Israel-Hamas fighting intensifies Overnight Defense: Administration approves 5M arms sale to Israel | Biden backs ceasefire in call with Netanyahu | Military sexual assault reform push reaches turning point CDC mask update sparks confusion, opposition MORE, House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate House extends proxy voting to July On The Money: IRS to start monthly payments of child tax credit July 15 | One-fourth of Americans took financial hits in 2020: Fed MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Pro-tax millionaires protesting in front of Bezos's homes Student debt cancellation advocates encouraged by Biden, others remain skeptical MORE (D-N.Y.).

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“I think that now the people of Missouri need a fighter in the United States Senate,” Greitens said. “They need somebody who’s going to go, as I will, as I’m committed to do, to defending President Trump’s America First policies and also to protecting the people of Missouri from Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Pro-tax millionaires protesting in front of Bezos's homes Student debt cancellation advocates encouraged by Biden, others remain skeptical MORE’s radical leftist agenda.”

Trump has reemerged on the political scene in recent weeks as he seeks to ensure that the party he dominated over the past four years remains firmly in his corner. He has vowed political revenge on Republicans whom he sees as insufficiently loyal and is eyeing the 2022 midterms as an opportunity to install loyalists in Congress and oust those who have crossed him.

While some Republicans have privately — and in some cases publicly — called for the GOP to abandon, or at least moderate, Trump’s vision for the party, operatives and candidates are acutely aware of his outsize popularity among the GOP’s most conservative voters and see his endorsement as their ticket to victory.

The looming fights for Trump’s endorsement raise the possibility of a bitter and bruising primary season for Republicans, a less-than-ideal prospect for the party as it looks to recapture control of both the Senate and the House next year.

Republicans need to gain only one seat in the Senate and five in the House next year to regain majorities in both chambers. But they are also defending more seats in the Senate than Democrats are, giving them fewer pickup opportunities.

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There are similar fights for Trump’s support cropping up in states like Ohio, where former state Treasurer Josh Mandel and former Ohio GOP Chairwoman Jane Timken are vying for Trump’s support in the Republican primary to replace retiring Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Bipartisanship has become a partisan weapon Carper urges Biden to nominate ambassadors amid influx at border MORE (R-Ohio).

Trump has also spoken in recent weeks to Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court sides with oil companies in Baltimore case| White House environmental justice advisers express opposition to nuclear, carbon capture projects | Biden administration to develop performance standards for federal buildings Sunday shows - Cheney removal, CDC guidance reverberate Ron Johnson calls cyber attacks an 'existential' threat following Colonial Pipeline shutdown MORE (R-Wis.), who is weighing whether to seek a third term next year. One Republican source said that Trump wants Johnson to run for reelection, seeing him as his best hope for keeping at least one of Wisconsin’s Senate seats in friendly hands.

Trump has publicly thrown his support behind other GOP Senate incumbents seeking reelection next year, including Sens. John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanSenate GOP opens door to earmarks Arkansas governor quietly bucking GOP's dive into culture wars Trump allies line up ahead of potentially bruising primaries MORE (R-Ark.), John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.), Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranBipartisan Senate bill introduced to give gyms B in relief Bottom line Hawley votes against anti-Asian hate crime bill MORE (R-Kan.) and Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottHelping students make informed decisions on college Police reform talks hit familiar stumbling block Biden adds pressure to congressional talks with self-imposed deadlines MORE (R-S.C.).

But there are still questions about the former president’s involvement in other states where Republicans are hoping to hold on to Senate seats.

Trump has vowed to campaign against Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOvernight Health Care: Supreme Court takes case that could diminish Roe v. Wade | White House to send US-authorized vaccines overseas for first time Manchin, Murkowski call for bipartisan Voting Rights Act reauthorization White House: Biden committed to codifying Roe v. Wade regardless of Miss. case MORE (R-Alaska), who was one of seven GOP senators to vote to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial last month. And Republicans are watching closely to see whether Trump goes after Senate Minority Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Lawmakers bicker over how to go after tax cheats GOP split on counteroffer to Biden's spending MORE (R-S.D.) for criticizing his efforts to challenge the 2020 election results.

Trump has also publicly called on former NFL star Herschel Walker, a longtime friend of the former president’s, to mount a potential bid against Sen. Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockDC statehood bill picks up Senate holdout Georgia senators introduce measure allowing voters to have access to water while waiting Cruz outspending other senators on Facebook ads: report MORE (D-Ga.) and has made clear that he plans to back a primary challenge to Georgia Gov. Brian KempBrian KempGeorgia's GOP lt. governor won't seek reelection amid election backlash Cheney seen as merely first victim of Trump election attacks Three charged in Arbery killing plead not guilty to federal hate crimes MORE (R) after Kemp refused to use nonexistent emergency powers to overturn Trump’s loss in the state.

To be sure, there are competing views among those in Trump World of whom the former president should back in the midterms.

Trump allies are at odds over the best choice to replace Portman in Ohio. While the current fight for former president’s backing is unfolding between Timken and Mandel, more Trump loyalists are waiting in the wings.

Meanwhile, some in Trump’s orbit have sought to boost Greitens’s Senate ambitions in Missouri, including Andrew Giuliani, a former White House aide and the son of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiGiuliani asks judge to block review of records seized in raid of home, office Journalism dies in newsroom cultures where 'fairness is overrated' Giuliani hires attorneys who defended Harvey Weinstein MORE.

But some former Trump aides and advisers have bristled at the notion of supporting Greitens’s candidacy, believing that he could pose a threat to the GOP’s standing in a race that Republicans currently see as a shoe-in.

Greitens resigned as governor less than a year and a half into his first term as he faced mounting scandals and potential impeachment by the state’s GOP-controlled legislature.

“It’s a joke. Everyone thinks Trump supporters will vote for anyone the president tells them to,” one former Trump campaign aide said. “There’s still a line.”