“Any candidate who wants to win in Pennsylvania in 2022 has to be at full Trump MAGA,” Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist to Trump told Trump.
The back-and-forth around Toomey’s vote also deepens party cracks in a state where Republicans lost the Senate and gubernatorial elections in 2018 and the presidential race in 2020. Intra-partisan tensions could hurt Republican prospects in 2022, when control of the House and Senate will be up for grabs.
The Pennsylvania Senate race in 2022 is a must-see seat for Republicans, and there will also be a critical gubernatorial election that year in the state.
Sam DeMarco, chairman of the GOP in Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, has said he strongly supports Trump and does not agree with Toomey’s vote to condemn him. But he called Toomey’s censorship efforts a “distraction” and believes Democrats pursued Trump’s second impeachment explicitly to divide the GOP.
“At a time when we need to bring people to our tent, to our party, I fear that attempts to censor or punish the senator for his vote send the wrong signal to independents and others like them. ideas that might lean Republican, but don’t think there’s a place in the party for them, ”he said. “Politics is a numbers game. You only win by addition, not by subtraction. “
Costello, who represented a suburban home seat before retiring in 2018, told POLITICO the censors “would hurt Republican candidates.” On Twitter, he went further, saying that a motion for a resolution to censor Toomey drafted by the Chester County GOP – his home county party – is “unbelievably stupid” and “will undoubtedly stigmatize them in such a way. that it will make it * harder * to win a county-wide election this year.
Bill Bretz, Republican Party leader for Westmoreland County in western Pennsylvania, said members of his committee censored Toomey because they were “quite outraged” and played down fears the warning would deflect the party of his efforts to win the next election.
“We are able to walk and chew gum at the same time,” he says. “We can express our dissatisfaction with his vote and continue to prepare to elect our judges statewide as a result.”
It will be months before the Senate primaries heat up, and some party members have argued that Toomey’s vote is unlikely to impact the election when voters go to the polls.
But while several Republicans worry about the political fallout from the party’s conviction of Toomey, others are already arguing over how the senator’s vote – and those who defended it – will be remembered by voters in 2022. Former Trump aides told POLITICO they plan to do so. a public relations campaign against Costello, who championed Toomey as a “political fanatic” for GOP legislative priorities.
A person involved in the anti-Costello effort said its goal was to tackle “Toomey and the people trying to keep up with him” in the party. Costello, a longtime Trump critic who is expected to launch an exploratory committee for the Senate soon, dismissed the threat.
“They can say whatever they want, I won’t mind,” he said. “It might help my fundraising, to be honest with you.”
Trump’s best allies are already openly critical of Costello.
“Never fool Ryan Costello is a sale to the globalists,” Bannon said in a statement echoing Washington Republicans’ displeasure with Costello for refusing to run again after court redesigned the map of the Pennsylvania Congress. “I don’t always agree with the [National Republican Congressional Committee], but when their president Steve Stivers said Ryan Costello lacked gut courage, I agreed. “
Costello replied, “Sloppy Steve will say whatever he says to him [because] he is forever indebted for his forgiveness. “
The national anti-Trump group Republican Accountability Project, meanwhile, is expected to launch a campaign in support of Toomey and hopes anti-MAGA Republicans will be encouraged to run for his seat in 2022.
Joe Gale, a Montgomery County commissioner who was one of Trump’s earliest supporters in 2016, launched a gubernatorial bid this week by disparaging Toomey. He said in his announcement that the senator had “a track record of betraying President Trump” and that his brother, Sean, who is running for the open Senate seat, “will be the exact opposite of RINO Pat Toomey.”
The outcry over Toomey’s vote has also led to questions about the role he will play in trying to influence the contest for his seat. Some pro-Trump Republicans predict that a stamp of approval from Toomey could be damaging to the GOP Senate primary. Toomey’s office declined to comment for this story.
Greg Manz, Trump’s communications advisor for the 2020 strategy and former Pennsylvania GOP spokesman, said Republican candidates who vie for Toomey’s approval or funding for his political action committee will be frowned upon by pro-Trump activists.
A nod from the state apparatus – whose members include many Trump loyalists – is seen as a significant boon to primary contenders here.
“It would be foolish for any candidate across the state seeking approval from the Pennsylvania GOP to accept Senator Toomey’s approval or donations,” Manz said. “I imagine a flawless hack like Ryan Costello would happily align with Senator Toomey, but he won’t even make it into the Senate Primary.” He is a non-factor in the end.
In an indication of the GOP’s two flanks split, Costello hit back at Manz with a scathing comment.
“Before Greg Manz worked for Trump, he worked for the State Party. Everyone back then and before laughed at him [because] he’s a clown. Nobody respects him and in a few years he will probably be pumping gasoline in New Jersey, ”he said. “No one knows who he is. He just does what he’s told like the little shopping boy he is.
Manz returned the beard: “People who denigrate hard-working Americans, gas station attendants in this case, have no place in the public service.
Shortly after speaking with POLITICO, Costello took to Twitter to criticize Manz again. Jason Miller, Trump’s senior adviser, retweeted Costello and defended Manz, calling him “real #MAGA and a real Patriot!”