Trump to rally House Republicans as party turns eye to midterms

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpPredictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure A review of President Biden's first year on border policy  Hannity after Jan. 6 texted McEnany 'no more stolen election talk' in five-point plan for Trump MORE is set to rally House Republicans at a Florida fundraiser on Monday as the GOP turns its gaze from the off-year elections in Virginia, New Jersey and other states to its goal of recapturing control of Congress in 2022. 

“I will be doing a roundtable and speaking tonight at the National Republican Congressional Committee annual dinner in Tampa,” Trump said in a statement issued through his leadership PAC. “Look forward to being there!”

The planned appearance at the National Republican Congressional Committee’s (NRCC) fundraising dinner in Tampa was first reported in September. But it comes on the heels of a string of Republican victories in state and local elections spanning from New Jersey to San Antonio.

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In the GOP’s highest-profile win of the year, Republican Glenn YoungkinGlenn YoungkinVirginia exits multi-state coalition backing EPA in climate lawsuit Virginia universities lift vaccine mandates after Youngkin's order Jill Biden adds to communications team in lead-up to midterm elections MORE defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffeTerry McAuliffeJill Biden adds to communications team in lead-up to midterm elections The Memo: Is Trump the GOP's future or in rearview mirror? The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems barrel towards voting rights vote with no outcome MORE in the race for Virginia governor, a major triumph for Republicans in a state that has lurched to the left over the past decade. 

With those races in the rearview mirror, Republicans are turning their attention to the 2022 midterm elections. The party needs to net just five seats in the House and only one in the Senate to recapture control of both chambers, and Democrats are facing historical headwinds in their effort to retain their congressional majorities.

Last week, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse GOP leaders vow to end proxy voting despite widespread use among Republicans Jan. 6 committee asks Ivanka Trump to sit for interview How Kevin McCarthy sold his soul to Donald Trump MORE (R-Calif.) predicted that the GOP could pick up more than 60 House seats in 2022, pointing to the Republican victories in Virginia and elsewhere as signs of a coming GOP wave election.

But Trump’s appearance at the NRCC fundraiser comes as some Republicans begin to debate his place in the GOP and just how front-and-center he should be in the midterms. 

Youngkin strayed from recent Republican orthodoxy throughout his campaign by taking a more passive approach to Trump. While he accepted the former president’s endorsement, Youngkin never campaigned alongside him in Virginia and focused his general election campaign message on issues like education and taxes. 

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In the New Jersey governor’s race, Republican Jack Ciattarelli used a similar tactic. While he ultimately lost to Gov. Phil MurphyPhil MurphyFire breaks out at NJ chemical plant: 'The worst that I've ever seen' Biden administration announces actions bolstering clean energy  The Hill's Morning Report - Biden champions filibuster reform, but doesn't have the votes MORE (D), the race was much closer than expected. 

Some Republicans now see the 2021 campaign in Virginia as offering a potential blueprint for 2022, given how well Youngkin did among suburban and swing voters who soured on the GOP during Trump’s tenure in the White House.

Still, Trump appears unlikely to stay on the sidelines in 2022 — a reality underscored by his appearance in Tampa on Monday night. Keith Naughton, a veteran Republican strategist, said that if Trump plays an outsized role in next year’s midterms, it could provide Democrats with a potent line of attack. 

“The problem for Republicans is what does Trump do?” Naughton told The Hill last week. “The second he mentions a candidate or the second he hints that he’s going to get involved in a race, it is instantly amplified by Democrats.”