The Washington Post reports that former President Donald Trump has been considering forming a third party, called the Patriot Party. He is also working on challenging lawmakers who opposed him during his final time in office, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska’s Republican senior senator.
Others in the crosshairs are Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R), and Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.), according to the Washington Post.
By launching a campaign against several sitting Republicans, Trump may force the hands of those who are likely to vote to convict him during the Senate impeachment trials, a list that may include Murkowski. These lawmakers may have to recuse themselves due to the Senate Ethics Code, either in fact or by perception.
“Multiple people in Trump’s orbit, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations, say Trump has told people that the third-party threat gives him leverage to prevent Republican senators from voting to convict him during the Senate impeachment trial. Trump advisers also say they plan to recruit opposing primary candidates and commission polling next week in districts of targeted lawmakers. Trump has more than $70 million in campaign cash banked to fund his political efforts, these people say,” the Post reported.
One factor the Trump camp may not have fully grasped is that, although Murkowski is up for reelection in 2022, Alaska Republicans are no longer allowed to have a closed primary, under the new conditions set by Ballot Measure 2, which passed in November. The open primary system, along with ranked choice voting, makes Murkowski stronger than a candidate to her political right might be in Alaska.
On Friday, The Hill reported that Murkowski admitted she did not vote for Trump in 2020, but rather wrote in a name of someone else. But she also said she would remain in the Republican caucus, and not caucus with Senate Democrats, who are now in power.
Murkowski is on record previously saying, “if the Republican Party continues to be the party of Trump, I’m not quite sure where I fit.” She has not ruled out becoming an undeclared (independent) registrant.
“I would like us to be that party that is inclusive of young people and minorities and LGBTQ and all people everywhere regardless of demographic or background,” she said. “I think the Republican Party has so much to offer if we can just get away from the personalities that have shaped it into a more narrowly defined view,” she told The Hill.