Mitch Daniels has angered Trump supporters as a candidate for the Senate
Daniels, known as Mitch, is a traditional conservative, a Reagan Republican with iconoclastic genes (he served in the Reagan White House). He wasn’t afraid to say things that displeased either the general electorate or the Republicans. This quality is expensive, but it does not avoid political conflicts.
Tax issues have long been the main driving force behind his political ideology. If he decides to run for the Senate, his candidacy will test whether there is still an appetite for his policies in a Republican Party that has been reshaped and distorted by former President Donald Trump. If elected, it will be a mission to win the battle for the future of his party.
A decade ago, he explored a presidential race that he decided not to seek, primarily for family reasons, based on alarm bells about what he called a “new red threat” to the nation’s welfare. The White House.
Correction: Mitch Daniels and what could have been
The Senate seat is open in 2024, with incumbent Mike Brown running for governor of Indiana, a position Daniels held from 2005 to 2013. Republican Rep. Jim Banks, who recently lost a race for Republican Whip, announced plans to seek Brown’s seat. .
Indiana is a solid red state, so who will win the Republican nomination A Senate finish in early 2025 will be heavily favored in the primaries. But the flavor of conservatism in Indiana has changed dramatically over the years, from the days of Richard Lugar, who served six terms in the Senate to how much his conservative pragmatism has cost him. he is. The 2012 primary, for former Vice President Mike Pence, represented a sharper conservatism based on cultural and social issues as a House member and governor.
Daniels served as Lugar’s chief of staff at one point, an office he worked from until Banks was born. Pence, meanwhile, is trying to navigate his political future after falling out with Trump following the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.
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Banks is a Trump ally and supporter of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in the recent battle for House Speaker. Banks said in her Senate campaign that she would be opposed by “radical Democrats and spineless Republicans.”
At 43, he is a generation younger than Daniels and represents a new breed of far-right conservatives in temperament and ideology. He is seeking an official endorsement from Trump in the race, but so far he has won the endorsement of the Club for Growth, a conservative group that has long listed Daniels as a board member.
The prospect of a candidacy for Daniels, who remains politically popular in his home state, prompted the Club for Growth to release a scathing online video attacking Daniels as an “old-guard old-fashioned Republican.” In the video, he is criticized for being a mayor who spends a lot of money on the government and collects taxes. As governor, his allies say, he passed the largest tax cuts in state history.
Representative Jim Banks, a Trump ally, has announced his candidacy for the US Senate in Indiana
In addition to the Club for Growth, Daniels attacked Donald Trump Jr tweeted on January 13: “The establishment is trying to recruit weakling RINO Mitch Daniels to run for US Senate in Indiana. The same Mitch Daniels who agreed with Joe Biden that millions of MAGA Republicans are a danger to the country and trying to “subvert democracy.” He would be Mitt Romney 2.0. Daniels has previously said he agrees that the Trump wing of the party is trying to subvert democracy, as President Biden accused during the midterm campaign.
Tweets by Don Jr. Mark got the answer from Lubbers, a longtime confidant of Daniels. “Junior,” he replied, “You think you have to fight the progressive left; we think it is necessary to hit. It requires an optimistic positive conservatism that builds majorities, wins elections, and engages in politics. Not just foaming at the mouth, counting tweets, and squealing shares. Be on your way.”
All of this comes before Daniels decides whether or not he’s going to compete. This decision can be made within a week or two.
Family considerations may again tempt Daniels to stay out of the race. Allies say the prospect of a clash with Trump and the Trump wing of the GOP is unlikely to keep him out. Other names have been mentioned as possible candidates, but if Daniels does show up, it’s likely she’ll face Banks. On Friday, Daniels declined to be interviewed about the controversy.
Lubbers said in an email exchange that some strategists believe that early resistance to Daniels, if it emerges, could be damaging. He said he disagreed. “It promotes and uplifts the whole mind [Daniels] aims to restore the dominance of constructive conservatism in our party,” he wrote.
The race between Daniels and Banks will be portrayed as the Trumpian populist wing of the party, the establishment wing, and there is some truth to that. But while Daniels has risen through the ranks of what is now considered the establishment GOP, in personality and instinct he is not pure establishment.
“This is not about populist conservatives and Republicanism at all,” Lubbers said. “It’s about us — and Mitch is the best period — people with conservative views [and] understand where those views come from, then do the hard work to build coalitions, win elections, and govern.
The Club for Growth video attacks Daniels for proposing tax increases as governor and for helping launch “one of the biggest entitlement programs in a generation” as budget director in President George W. Bush’s administration. The reimbursement program he’s attacking is Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, which has become wildly popular. Will anti-Daniels Republicans demand its repeal?
The 2024 Senate map is a GOP dream. But the strength of candidates is unstable.
As governor and university president, he was willing to challenge orthodoxy. As Purdue’s chairman, he was early skeptical of proposals for a lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.
“There’s an old saying that war is too important to be left to the generals,” he told me in the spring of 2020. “Everyone uses the analogy of war for this. That’s why it’s so important to completely surrender to epidemiologists. At the forefront is the issue of compromise.
The Club for Growth attacked Daniels for allowing spending sprees during the Bush administration, a charge shared by many on the right who have never forgiven some of Bush’s spending sprees. But when he became Bush’s budget director, Daniels earned the nickname “Knife” for his instinct to find room to cut spending.
Daniels has been outspoken for years about what he once called the “new red peril,” an ocean of red ink that threatens the nation’s future. More than a decade ago, he warned that the country’s financial problems were so serious that conservatives should call for a truce in battles over social and cultural issues to focus on fiscal threats.
He also said that dealing with the threat may require compromise with Democrats. He said in a 2011 speech: “If the best way is blocked … then someone has to find a second best way.” “Or the third, because the preservation of the nation requires it. Purity in martyrdom is for martyrs.
He still sees the financial threat that almost drove him to the 2012 presidential campaign, but he also sees something else: Trump’s takeover of the party.
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