If the 80 million Americans who voted for Joe Biden were hoping to purge the Trump name from our government, the sigh of relief we all heaved on January 20 may have been premature.
The names and faces of the Trump children have all been etched into our memories since 2017, when President Trump put his adult sons, Don Jr. and Eric, in charge of his business, and after he gave his eldest daughter, Ivanka, a White House appointment. Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election was soon followed by every major social media app deplatforming him following the January 6 Capitol siege he directly encouraged. This rendered the former president to relative obscurity, posting lengthy screeds from his Mar-a-Lago compound in hopes that news outlets will give the person who had dominated headlines nearly every day since 2015 the attention he thirsts for.
Given how poorly the septuagenarian former president has aged, it’s not likely he’ll have the energy for the 2024 presidential run he’s been teasing. A much-too-early poll from early 2020 showed that both Don Jr. and Ivanka were among the top four favorites for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. But we might see another family name in politics as soon as the 2022 midterm elections: Lara Trump.
As a Fox News contributor, Lara Trump has a national platform on the highest-rated cable news channel in the US, and is frequently invited onto prime-time programming to opine on the Biden administration’s policies. This allows the wife of Eric Trump to have a direct line to millions of Americans — particularly Republican primary voters.
Just weeks ago, Eric and Lara Trump bought a $3.2 million mansion within the Trump National Golf Club compound in Palm Beach County, Florida. This officially establishes her Florida residency, meaning she meets the requirements to run for US Senate as soon as 2022, when former Trump rival Marco Rubio is up for re-election. Following the retirement of Senator Richard Burr, Lara Trump was already viewed as a possible Senate contender in her home state of North Carolina. But her recent move to Trump-friendly Florida could be an indicator that Sen. Rubio will face a primary challenge in next year’s midterms.
Florida is the perfect state for a member of the Trump family to run for office. In 2020, President Trump beat Joe Biden by nearly 400,000 votes. When he returned to Mar-a-Lago on Biden’s Inauguration Day, Trump’s motorcade was greeted by a throng of supporters. And Florida’s state constitution even contains a section that could allow Governor Ron DeSantis — a staunch Trump supporter — to intervene in his extradition, should a New York grand jury indict the 45th president in an ongoing criminal investigation (a federal statute and the US Constitution would overrule such an attempt). When combining Florida’s loyalty to the Trump family with her direct Fox News pipeline into Florida’s Republican households, Lara Trump could easily overcome Marco Rubio in a primary.
The most recent 2022 polling shows Rubio would be vulnerable to a primary challenge. A March 2021 survey from Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategy found that 46 percent of Floridians would vote to re-elect Rubio, while 40 percent would not. While it’s still far too early to poll the Florida 2022 Senate race (Rubio hasn’t yet filed his paperwork to run for a third term, and no Democrat has filed to run against him), it’s safe to say Lara Trump would win her father-in-law’s endorsement and become an immediate primary contender should she declare a senatorial campaign. Given her far-right views, a Lara Trump term in the US Senate would be a disaster for the country.
In 2019, she described German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2015 decision to admit Middle Eastern refugees as “one of the worst things that ever happened to Germany.” And in 2020, Lara Trump endorsed the failed Congressional campaign of conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer, who described herself as a “proud Islamophobe.” Loomer has also suggested the mass school shootings in Parkland, Florida and Santa Fe, Texas were staged.
The Trumps still firmly hold the Republican Party in their grasp, as the ouster of Liz Cheney from her Congressional leadership position has shown. This has resulted in a deep sickness within the GOP: a recent poll found 53 percent of Republicans believe Donald Trump is the true president, and 56 percent believe the 2020 election was “tainted by illegal voting” despite Trump administration officials admitting the election was “the most secure in American history.” If Americans want to be fully rid of the Trump family and the post-truth mentality of Trumpism that’s poisoning democracy, we’ll need to remain vigilant in both 2022 and 2024.
Carl Gibson is a freelance journalist and columnist. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs.