Donald Trump’s influence loomed large as Americans voted Tuesday in midterm elections that could jump-start any attempt to return to the White House in 2024 – or, if his loyalists misbehave, derail it altogether.
Although the former president’s name does not appear on any ballot, dozens of Republican candidates are bearing his personal endorsement in a litmus test for his popularity.
At the end of his final campaign rally on the eve of the vote, Trump captured national attention by saying he would make a “very big announcement” in Florida next week.
He again teased the possible presidential race on Tuesday as he voted in Palm Beach.
“I think Tuesday (November 15) will be a very exciting day for a lot of people, and I look forward to seeing you at Mar-e-Largo,”
Trump told reporters.
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The authority that Trump has built
The 76-year-old remains, without a doubt, the most controversial figure in American politics.
That he stopped short of an outright statement suggests uncertainty about the impact such an announcement would have on Tuesday’s battle for control of Congress.
He said he didn’t want to “harm” the midterm elections where the 435 seats in the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate are up for grabs.
But as elated supporters chanted “four more years” at his Monday night event, the prospect of his return to the White House could galvanize independent Republicans and even some moderates to vote Democratic.
Trump endorsed more than 200 Republican candidates in Tuesday’s election for Senate, House, and state and local offices.
Their fate will be crucial to his fate.
“It is important that some of the candidates he has supported win and above all win big,” Robert Shapiro, a politics professor at Columbia University, told AFP.
While most triumph, Trump’s grip on the Republican Party seems absolute. If they don’t, he will likely face a challenge for the Republican nomination.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence are tipped as suitors.
“If Trump’s candidates lose, and especially if they lose badly, it will give the other Republican candidates the opening they’ve been looking for. Look at DeSantis especially,”
Republicans are heavily favored to win the House and eventually overthrow the Senate. If they take control of both chambers, would they want a president who would likely hijack their agenda?
“Republicans would want any Republican president, including Trump,”
“This is a fully unified Republican government that can enact conservative policies and make conservative judicial and other government appointments.
“Trump may not be optimal, but he would certainly suffice”,
The 27 Secretary of State races taking place add further intrigue to Trump on Tuesday’s ballot.
Secretaries of state are responsible for validating election results and could be critical in the next presidential election.
In 2020, Georgia Republican Secretary Brad Raffensperger resisted pressure from Trump to reverse his loss to Joe Biden in the state.
Trump may also see another presidential race as a way to try to shield himself from the many civil, criminal and congressional investigations he faces.
He is under investigation for his role in the attack on the US Capitol last year, his efforts to nullify the 2020 presidential election and the hiding of classified documents at his residence in Mar-a- The girlfriend.
In September, New York State Attorney General Letitia James sued Trump and three of his children, accusing them of business fraud.
© Agence France-Presse