Former President Donald Trump’s sway over the Republican Party remains so strong that no GOP candidate running on an anti-Trump platform will win a 2022 primary contest, according to Andrew Boucher, a partner at RightVoter and an organizer of The Charleston Meeting.
“There is not going to be a single person who wins a Republican primary in 2022 who runs on the basis of ‘I think we should move past Donald Trump, I don’t think Donald Trump did a good job as president,’” Boucher told The Epoch Times’ “Crossroads” program in a wide-ranging interview.
“You can’t be an anti-Trump Republican and win a primary in this party anywhere in America,” he contended.
Boucher argued that this premise also sets the framework for how the Republican Party is going to reorganize going forward, “whose voices are going to be enhanced, and frankly, whose voices we’re probably not going to hear from again.”
The future of the GOP has come into focus as factions within the party vie for influence in a post-Trump-presidency era. While most Republicans remain fiercely loyal to the former president, some seek a new direction for the party and have called on the GOP to firewall Trump.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told CNN’s “State of the Union” in February that it would hurt the GOP if its members “let him define us.”
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, in a Feb. 19 interview with Katie Couric, former host at CNN, CBS, and NBC, said that the Republican Party is at “the beginning of what is going to be a long and, you know, difficult battle for the soul of the Republican Party” and argued that a GOP that embodied Trump’s vision would lack the broad appeal needed to win general elections.
Other Republicans have considered forming a splinter party. Evan McMullin, who was chief policy director for the House Republican Conference and ran as an independent in the 2016 presidential election, told Reuters that he co-hosted a Zoom call with some 120 former Republican officials from several administrations who are concerned about Trump’s power within the GOP and are considering forming a center-right breakaway party.
“Large portions of the Republican Party are radicalizing and threatening American democracy,” McMullin told Reuters. “The party needs to recommit to truth, reason and founding ideals or there clearly needs to be something new.”
Asked about these discussions about a breakaway faction, Trump spokesman Jason Miller said, “These losers left the Republican Party when they voted for Joe Biden.”
Boucher commented on the intra-party conflicts within the GOP, saying that the party has become more diverse and differences of opinion can be constructive.
“If you have an establishment wing, or a so-called establishment wing, and a MAGA wing and a constitutional conservative wing and a small government wing and you can extend it to foreign policy—you have more interventionist versus isolationist—or America Firsters—those are all valid voices within the Republican coalition,” Boucher said.
He contends that much of the media has sought to play up the destructive dimension of the clashes, while ignoring their constructive aspect as competing perspectives are weighed, and policy positions debated to selected those that are optimal for the country.
“Sometimes, the conflict is good and healthy,” Boucher said, adding that he’s seeing a groundswell of conservative activism at a grassroots level that he believes will be key in shaping the Republican Party of the future.
“Because you look at what’s happening on the other side—the cancel culture, the overspending, the absolute insanity that’s coming from the hard left, the attacks on the United States of America itself,” he said, arguing that opposition to such policies is what should unite the broader conservative movement.
“That’s not what you want to be a part of. You want to be a part of our larger coalition that believes in the United States, that believes in limited constitutional government,” he said.
Boucher added that “Trump has tremendous power within the Republican Party because he earned it,” citing the former president’s successful, against-all-odds presidential bid, and taking that “to a place of governance where he achieved great things in four years in office.”
He acknowledged that there are going to be some “growing pains” in the GOP going forward, including calls to take the party in a different direction.
“I think there’s going to be shots fired in all different directions,” he said. “We’re going to see some of this play out in actual primary campaigns around the country. But what I tell people is, there is no anti-Trump lane within any Republican primary anywhere in America.”
Recent polling supports the view that Trump’s hold on the GOP remains strong. A Quinnipiac University poll showed that three-quarters of Republicans want Trump to play a prominent role in the party. Meanwhile, a Suffolk University-USA Today poll found that nearly half of Republicans said they would abandon the party to join a new party headed by Trump.
Trump has unequivocally declared that he isn’t interested in starting a third party and that he’s committed to the GOP.