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Why one red-state Senate Republican won't back Trump in 2024

Why won't Sen. Bill Cassidy support Donald Trump in 2024? Because the senator sees the former president as an electoral loser.


Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana appeared on "Axios on HBO" and balked when Mike Allen noted that Donald Trump would likely be the Republican Party's 2024 nominee.

"I don't know that," the senator said during [the] interview in Chalmette, La.... "Trump is the first president in the Republican side at least to lose the House, the Senate and the presidency in four years. Elections are about winning," Cassidy said.

Describing the possibility of the former president losing the GOP nomination in 2024, the Louisiana Republican went on to say, "Well, if you want to win the presidency — and hopefully that's what voters are thinking about — I think he might."

When Allen said it sounded as if Cassidy isn't planning to vote for him, the GOP senator added, "I'm not."

To be sure, Cassidy's position doesn't come as a complete surprise. In 2018, the Louisianan suggested publicly that Trump may have engaged in criminal misconduct as part of the Stormy Daniels scandal, and earlier this year, Cassidy was one of only seven Senate Republicans to vote to convict Trump as part of his second impeachment trial.

What's more, the senator doesn't appear to have any meaningful electoral concerns, at least not anytime soon: Cassidy cruised to an easy re-election victory last fall — outpacing Trump in the Pelican State — and won't face voters again until 2026.

That said, there were a couple of angles to this that stood out for me. First, note that Cassidy framed his concerns in a narrow way. The senator doesn't want Trump to be his party's 2024 nominee because Cassidy sees the former president as a political loser.

The Louisianan didn't describe Trump as a corrupt and incompetent buffoon, overtly hostile toward democracy and the rule of law; he described Trump as a guy who loses elections. Cassidy seems eager for Republican voters to make an electoral calculus: Prioritize candidates who know how to win, and Trump does not.

Second, it'll be interesting to see how much company Cassidy gets in the GOP's Senate conference. Plenty of senators don't like being first, but now that the Louisianan is stepping up to argue against a prospective third Trump candidacy, will other Republicans feel more freedom to do the same thing?

Postscript: As a matter of fact-checking, I should probably note that Cassidy's assessment of recent history isn't quite right. He told Allen, "Trump is the first president in the Republican side at least to lose the House, the Senate and the presidency in four years."

That's not true. In 2005, George W. Bush was inaugurated for a second term as a Republican president, and he worked alongside Republican majorities in the House and Senate. Four years later, Democrats controlled the White House and both of Congress' chambers.

In other words, the most recent Republican president lost all three in four years, but so too did his immediate GOP predecessor.