By Brian Howey
Sen. Todd Young seems to have it all these days. He raised a record $1.6 million for his first Senate reelection campaign this past quarter, sitting on a lofty $5.6 million cash. He doesn’t have a primary opponent. The three Democratic candidates have raised a combined $100,000.
But Todd Young is lacking what may count most: The endorsement of former president Donald J. Trump in a state where he won twice with 57%.
According to Politico, Sen. Young’s campaign made inquiries for a Trump endorsement last winter, not long after the Jan. 6 insurrection and then Trump’s second impeachment trial, when Young voted to acquit the former president.
Politico: “Trump’s revulsion to even minor instances of disloyalty only intensified. As an example, they noted that Trump is currently withholding an endorsement of Indiana Sen. Todd Young after Young called Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene ‘an embarrassment’ to the Republican party last month.”
On Jan. 6 in a statement, Young said, “As Congress meets to formally receive the votes of the Electoral College, I will uphold my Constitutional duty and certify the will of the states as presented. I will not violate that oath.”
In normal times, such statements wouldn’t be a problem. But over the past year, Trump has only amplified claims that the 2020 election was “rigged” and “stolen” despite little evidence and pushback from Republicans like Attorney General Bill Barr, Vice President Mike Pence, former veep Dan Quayle and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Following the Jan. 6 insurrection, Young called it the result of “a failure for many of our leaders to be truthful to the American people about what precisely has happened in our elections in recent months.” Asked if President Trump played a role in encouraging the violence, Young responded, “Of course. He’s president of the United States.”
As for Rep. Greene and whether she should be in the GOP, Young said in a conference call with reporters, “There should be no debate about Marjorie Taylor Greene. She’s nutty. She’s an embarrassment to our party. There’s no place for her in the Republican Party. There ought to be no place.”
A reporter asked Young if he is worried about facing a Republican primary challenger when he faces reelection in 2022. “I’ve got a pretty low pulse. You know, I really don’t worry,” Young said. “I didn’t worry when Evan (Bayh) entered my race. I got a lot of fallback options. So, you know, unlike some career politicians who are wedded to their titles and their positions, I got a good life.”
So Young has had a complicated relationship with Donald Trump.
Sen. Young presided over the Republican National Senatorial Committee beginning in November 2018, raising a record $70 million while seeking to build on a 53-47 seat majority. “This Republican-controlled Senate is America’s firewall as we try and consolidate all of the important wins that we’ve had over the last couple years and then look to build on those in the future,” Young said when accepting the role.
But then President Trump, angered by his loss of the White House by eight million votes in 2020, did what was politically unthinkable: He torpedoed the campaigns of two incumbent Georgia Republican senators running in the Jan. 5 run-off, tweeting four days before the election that the two Georgia Senate races are “illegal and invalid.”
“At the end of the day, all of this narrative that you can’t trust the voting machines, you can’t trust absentee ballots – it’s hurting Republican turnout,” a Republican strategist told Fox11 on Jan. 4. “So, if you can’t trust the vote, how do you vote? And that’s the big question Republicans have right now.”
Trump has been openly hostile to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – a Young ally – calling for his removal from leadership. Trump has since reportedly been encouraging Republican senators to oust McConnell, and in April called him a “dumb SOB” and a “stone cold loser.”
And in a bizarre statement last week, Trump appeared to warn his supporters about voting for Republicans in 2022 and 2024, something that certainly caught Young’s attention. “If we don’t solve the presidential election fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in ‘22 or ‘24. It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do,” Trump said on Oct. 13.
Washington Examiner columnist David Drucker, who published a new book “In Trump’s Shadow: The Battle for 2024 and the Future of GOP” said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe earlier this week that Trump fashions himself as a kingmaker. “He understands very well what impact he has on Republicans. He is very acutely aware of what impact he has on Republicans,” Drucker said.
That came a couple of weeks after he kinda, sorta endorsed Democrat Stacey Abrams over Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, saying at a Georgia rally, “Stacey, would you like to take his place? It’s OK with me.”
Young has voted to acquit Trump twice in Senate impeachment trials. He’s campaigned for him. He’s resisted a number of off ramps the Republican Party has faced with Trump. Now he’s bracing for Trump’s “RINO” curve balls, or, perhaps, that elusive endorsement.
The columnist is publisher of Howey Politics Indiana at www.howeypolitics.com