KFew people in the Republican Party doubt that Donald Trump will announce his third presidential candidacy this Tuesday night at his Mar-a-Lago golf club in Florida. However, Trump’s congressional elections have given hope to intra-party rivals. Two years before the election, it is not yet clear how many candidates will dare to fight Trump. We profile nine politicians who are credited with challenging the former president in the primary.
Ron DeSantis: The winner
If there’s a Republican winner in the recent congressional election, it’s Ron DeSantis. When he became Florida governor in 2018, he had a lead of just over 32,000 votes — this time around 1.5 million votes. So DeSantis triumphed, while Trump’s candidates lost in rows. Some polls saw the 44-year-old lawyer’s popularity as a presidential candidate ahead of Trump this year. Especially with its lax corona policy, DeSantis has not only become popular in its own state.
Trump is aware of the danger and is open about DeSantis. Apparently in response to a commercial pitching DeSantis as God’s created “fighter” for the political crises, Trump nicknamed him “Ron DeSanctimonious.” After his success in the congressional elections, Trump threatened to spill secrets about the Florida man. DeSantis was “politically dead” in 2017 before he was born, Trump wrote on his social media channel “Truth Social”.
The positions of the two politicians are similar, but DeSantis does not tend to act impulsively and is considered a good tactician. After the congressional elections, many right-wing media see DeSantis as the new Republican star. He himself said in his victory speech: “While our country falters because of failed leadership in Washington, Florida is on the right track.”
Glenn Youngkin: The tightrope walker
Glenn Youngkin, as a political newcomer, managed a small feat last year: The Republican was elected governor of the state of Virginia, which had previously been under Democratic leadership for more than ten years. Since then, the 55-year-old former businessman has also made a name for himself outside of his state. Before the congressional elections, he toured the country, speaking to major Republican donors in New York, speaking at the Republican convention in Nebraska and raising $1.5 million for his party – many see ambitions to attack the White House gain weight.
Youngkin doesn’t explicitly distance himself from Donald Trump, but he doesn’t back the former president either. This wedged after the congressional elections against Youngkin. On his social media platform “Truth Social” Trump wrote: “Young Kin (that’s an interesting variant, sounds Chinese, doesn’t it?) couldn’t have won in Virginia without me.” He knew that and admitted it.
Mike Pence: The Emancipated Vice
As different as they were, “President Trump and I had a close working relationship. Not only was he my president, he was my friend,” the former vice president said in a recent interview. Pence is now just as outspoken that the relationship didn’t end well. On January 6, 2021, rioters outside the Capitol chanted, “Hang Mike Pence” for refusing to overturn the election results. Pence, whose memoir was published Tuesday, just described Trump’s behavior that day as ruthless.