Top Republican challengers to Trump

ByShahmir Kazi

works in the private sector with interest in socio-political affairs


December 3, 2022

Top Republican challengers to Trump

Shahmir Kazi describes the toughening US presidential race

Though the Top Republican challengers to Trump is 78 years old he has not lost his verve and energy for public affairs and apparently remains focused on his ambition to win back the presidency as he is convinced that he was deprived of his second term through unfair means. Despite being vilified by many circles in his country Trump maintains his cult status and his following has not dwindled that had constrained his Republican Party to adopt an ambivalent attitude towards him and for quite some time no credible potential candidate emerged to challenge Trump for his bid for presidency in 2024. It is getting clear now that the path to the 2024 US presidential election has begun after the US midterm elections that have given rise to many prospective candidates particularly after Trump announced that he will run for the party’s nominating contest, vowing to make America great and glorious again.

The current position is that though Trump remains popular with Republican voters but a disappointing Republican Party performance in the midterm elections, due in part to losses for Trump-endorsed candidates, has left him more vulnerable. As a result Trump is expected to face a stiff challenge from a coterie of Republican hopefuls, including some who once backed him and this pack is led by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who has worked hard to emulate Trump and is establishing himself as the candidate most likely to supplant him at this early stage. DeSantis’ position has been solidified due to his stellar performance as he won his gubernatorial re-election by more than 1.5 million votes, the largest margin in the state in more than four decades. DeSantis, 44 has age on his side and his credentials are also solid and he has ticked all correct boxes in his upward flight.

DeSantis is a rising star since 2019 and he has positioned himself as an enthusiastic champion of conservativism. He eschewed mask and vaccine mandates during the Covid pandemic, signed anti-riot laws in the wake of racial justice protests and backed legislation to limit LGBT education in primary schools. Under his tenure, Republican voters outnumber Democrats in the state for the first time. His rise has worried Trump who has started to ridicule him by calling him “Ron DeSanctimonious” and threatening to release unflattering details about him if he runs in 2024.

Mike Pence is another political heavyweight who is weighing his options to join the presidential race. Throughout his presidential term Pence was a loyal deputy to Trump as his vice-president – until Trump’s last year’s Capitol riot splintered their relationship. The son of a Korean War veteran, Mike Pence began his career in conservative politics as a talk radio host. He was elected to the House in 2000 and served until 2013, describing himself as a principled conservative and aligning with the Tea Party movement. He also served as governor of Indiana from 2013 to 2017. In that role, he passed the largest tax cut in state history and signed bills to restrict abortion and protect religious freedom.

Mike Pence, 63, is a born-again evangelical Christian and with his calm and soft-spoken demeanour he was seen as an effective surrogate to the very volatile Donald Trump. But Trump turned on him for lacking courage after he refused to help overturn the 2020 election results. The two have kept their distance since then, with Mike Pence endorsing several Republican candidates this year, including Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, whose opponent Trump backed though Pence has never directly criticised his old boss.

The third possible challenger is Liz Cheney, the daughter of former vice-president Dick Cheney, who was once a rising star in the Republican Party, serving as its third-highest ranking member in the House from 2019 to 2021. A fiscal and social conservative with interventionist foreign policy views, she won her father’s old seat in 2017, going on to represent Wyoming in Congress and voted in lockstep with the Trump administration. However, she fell out of favour with Republicans after repeatedly criticising Trump and then voting to impeach him for his role in the 6 January Capitol riots. She was dumped from her leadership post, formally reprimanded and is no longer recognised by the Wyoming Republican Party.

Liz Cheney, 56, went on to become one of only two Republicans on the congressional committee investigating the Capitol riots. As vice-chair, she has led the charge to hold Trump and others accountable. The role cost her job this August, with the former president endorsing an opponent who thrashed her by a near-40% margin in the Wyoming primary race. But Liz Cheney still considers herself a Republican, vowing to do whatever she must to help restore the party.

Mike Pompeo has also emerged as a credible challenger to Donald Trump in the race for presidency. Pompeo was known as a die-hard Trump loyalist despite as a congressman from Kansas he issued a stark warning in 2016 that Trump would be an authoritarian president who ignored American Constitution. Pompeo is an army veteran who graduated first in his class from the prestigious West Point military academy and served in the House between 2011 and 2017. The Harvard-educated lawyer would go on to serve as CIA director and secretary of state in the Trump administration. He played a role in major US foreign policy overtures, from helping plan Trump’s summits with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un to helping overturn decades of US policy toward Israel but he also courted controversy including clashes with reporters and at least two ethics investigations.

Another prospective candidate Glenn Youngkin thrilled the Republican Party when he won the governor’s race in Virginia last year. A political novice who spent 25 years at the Carlyle Group private equity firm, he beat a man who had been in Democratic politics since the 1980s. In a state that has trended toward Democrats in recent years, Youngkin criticised partisan politics as too toxic and campaigned on a tone of bipartisanship. But the 55-year-old has waded into hot-button topics since his first day in charge, from revoking the state’s Covid-19 restrictions to banning the teaching of critical race theory in schools. He has supported Republicans around the country in this election. At a campaign stop last month, he drew criticism for making light of the violent assault of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband and later apologised.

Nikki Haley, was once considered one of the Republican Party’s brightest young prospects but her star has dimmed considerably in recent years. She became the youngest governor in the country in 2009 and earned national attention in 2015 after calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Capitol. Despite saying she was not a fan of Trump in 2016 she later accepted his nomination to be the US ambassador to the United Nations, a tenure marked by her dramatic exit from a UN Security Council meeting as a Palestinian envoy was speaking. Nikki Haley, 50, has waffled on whether she still supports Trump, and has drawn many critics in the process. Trump reportedly refused to even meet with her last year. TW


The writ of international law
The writ of international law
M Ali Siddiqi looks at a crucial...
Resurgence of fascism
Resurgence of fascism
M Ali Siddiqi describes a dangerous...
President Xi Jinping
XI on his way to ruling China for life
M Ali Siddiqi talks about apparent...
Governance and equitable distribution of resources
Governance and equitable distribution of resources
M Ali Siddiqi talks about Governance...
The Need For Pakistan
The Need For Pakistan
M A Siddiqi expresses surprise...
The Presence And Essence Of Pakistaniat
The Presence And Essence Of Pakistaniat
M Ali Siddiqi describes a strong...

Get Newsletters


Subscribe Us