President Donald Trump has suggested that Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) should face a primary challenge in 2022, in an apparent response to Thune’s unwillingness to back a challenge to the 2020 election results.
“Republicans in the Senate so quickly forget. Right now, they would be down 8 seats without my backing them in the last Election,” the president wrote on Twitter on Dec. 22.
“RINO John Thune, ‘Mitch’s boy’, should just let it play out. South Dakota doesn’t like weakness. He will be primaried in 2022, political career over!!!” the president added, using the acronym for “Republican in name only” to refer to the No. 2 Republican in the Senate.
Thune didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time. He told Newsmax on Dec. 21 that the plan by a group of House Republicans to challenge electoral votes during the formal count in Congress on Jan. 6 will go down like a “shot dog.”
“The thing they’ve got to remember is, it’s just not going anywhere. I mean, in the Senate, it would go down like a shot dog,” Thune told reporters. “And I just don’t think it makes a lot of sense to put everybody through this when you know what the ultimate outcome is going to be.”
A group of House Republicans is planning to challenge six slates of Democratic nominee Joe Biden electors from states marred by allegations of voter fraud: Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Nevada. Nine House representatives and representatives-elect have committed to the plan: Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Jody Hice (R-Ga.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Barry Moore (R-Ala.), Bob Good (R-Va.), Brian Babin (R-Texas), and Ted Budd (R-N.C.)
In order to challenge electors during the counting of the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6, one member of the House and one senator need to submit a request in writing. To date, no senator has publicly committed to joining the challenges, but several have said they are open to the idea: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
The Trump campaign and a handful of third parties are pursuing legal challenges in the six states the Republicans plan to challenge, as well as New Mexico. The lawsuits allege that hundreds of thousands of votes were cast illegally during the general election. The Trump electors in each state cast procedural votes on Dec. 14, sending competing slates to Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has acknowledged Biden as the president-elect. Trump hasn’t conceded the election.