President Donald Trump has solidified his position in the Republican Party as the midterm elections filled the ranks with supporters of his agenda.
Not only have the Republicans strengthened their hold on the Senate, but within that majority, several so-called “never-Trump” Republicans disappeared.
Anti-Trump Sen. Bob Corker didn’t seek reelection in Tennessee and was replaced by staunchly pro-Trump Marsha Blackburn.
In Arizona, anti-Trump Jeff Flake also didn’t seek reelection and will be replaced either by pro-Trump Martha McSally or Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. McSally was slightly ahead on Nov. 7 afternoon with some 75 percent of the ballot counted.
Sinema is a closet progressive, according to some of her staffers, and unlikely to lend Trump her vote. But either way, the concentration of Trump supporters in the Senate GOP has increased.
Trump even took credit for Flake’s retirement.
“I retired him. I’m very proud of it. I did the country a great service,” he said during a Nov. 7 press conference. “He is retired. I’d like to call it another word but we’re going to treat him with great respect.”
The top anti-Trump Republican, Sen. John McCain, passed away Aug. 25.
Mitt Romney, who won the Senate race in Utah, spoke strongly against Trump in 2016 but has since toned down the rhetoric and expressed somewhat measured support for several key points of Trump’s agenda.
In the House, Speaker Paul Ryan, who split with Trump on immigration policy, didn’t seek reelection and his Wisconsin seat will be taken by Trump endorsee Bryan Steil.
Overall, 43 House Republicans didn’t seek re-election, the most GOP has seen in 88 years, Trump said.
Democrats took over some of those seats. Nonetheless, a number of those criticizing or distancing themselves from Trump are leaving, including Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).
Of the 20 Republicans that voted against the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare—a major promise of Trump’s—only 10 will return to Capitol Hill in January. Of the 13 Republicans that said “nay” on Trump’s tax cuts, just six will return.
On the other hand, of the 11 candidates Trump campaigned with over the last week, nine won.
“Those that worked with me in this incredible Midterm Election, embracing certain policies and principles, did very well. Those that did not, say goodbye!” Trump said in a Nov. 7 tweet.
The president campaigned on behalf of the candidates, pulling off 26 rallies since Oct. 1, and nine in the last four days before the election.
He said he focused on the Senate races, as touring the individual districts for House races would require too much travel.
While losing the House represents a partial loss of power for Republicans, it also removes part of the responsibility Democrats have placed on Trump for delays in passing legislation. He can now wait for the Democrats to come to him for votes on legislative proposals.
“The Democrats will come to us with a plan for infrastructure, a plan for health care, a plan for whatever they are looking at [and] we’ll negotiate,” he said at the press conference.
A stronger supporter base in the Senate, on the other hand, suggests the chamber will provide him smoother confirmations of judicial and other appointments.