At first, it looked like former President Donald Trump would have a role in New York’s 2022 Republican contests for Congress almost as soon as he left the White House.
In June 2021, one of Trump’s first political targets after the presidency was Rep. John Katko, who was the first House Republican to announce that he would vote to impeach Trump after the January 6 Capitol riot. Not long after that vote, the Onondaga County Conservative Party announced that it would not endorse Katko in 2022. That party’s chairman, Bernie Ment, received a letter from Trump that read, “Big move: Katko will never win again.”
In the letter, Trump named Conservative Party leaders widely known in New York political circles.
“Find a candidate,” Trump added, with an underline for emphasis.
That was about a month after another New Yorker, Rep. Elise Stefanik, was chosen to replace Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney as the third Republican in the House. Trump enthusiastically endorsed Stefanik for that position.
Since then, Trump has helped propel his supporters to victory in several Republican primaries while championing the impeachment of the 10 House Republicans who impeached him, culminating earlier this week in the defeat of Cheney for Wyoming’s only congressional seat.
But since Katko’s public ire and Stefanik’s rise, Trump’s personal presence in his former home state’s elections has been notably absent. For his part, Katko announced in December that he would not run for re-election, and former Rep. Tom Reed, who did not vote to impeach Trump but wrote an op-ed saying he should be impeached after the January 6, resigned from Congress in May. Trump endorsed strong ally Rep. Claudia Tenney in the new 24th District, but has not endorsed either of the two Republicans vying to replace Katko in the new 22nd District, nor has he weighed in on the two special elections for the 23rd District and 19 outgoing. , both of which he won in the 2016 presidential contest (Biden narrowly beat Trump 19 in 2020).
Nowhere is Trump’s silence more telling than in the contentious Republican primary for Western New York’s 23rd Congressional District, which pits state GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy against former GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, both Trump loyalists with the credentials to back it up. .
Paladino served as co-chairman of Trump’s 2016 campaign in New York and recently told Spectrum News 1 that he believes, if elected to Congress, he can help the former president if he seeks the presidency again in 2024.
Langworthy has visited Trump at the White House several times, saying in February 2020 that Trump is very in tune with New York politics.
“When the New York Republican Party needed new leadership, President Trump asked me to turn things around,” Langworthy said in June.
Both his staunch support and ties to Trump may be why he has not formally endorsed either.
“I would be very surprised if he got involved in this race. Not only are they longtime allies, supporters, big boosters of Donald Trump, but they also have a lot of different Trump friends on each side,” veteran lobbyist. and analyst Jack O’Donnell told Spectrum News 1 in July.
A similar situation may have prevented Trump from participating in the Republican primary race for governor this spring. While the state party backed U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin early on, a congressman from Long Island who strongly supported Trump during his presidency and voted against certifying the electoral votes of Arizona and Pennsylvania on January 6, the primary race also involved Andrew Giuliani, the son of Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani, who also served in the Trump White House.
That said, with the primaries over, Trump will appear at a fundraiser for Zeldin’s campaign on September 4 in New Jersey.
Then there’s an unusual recent example that counters Trump’s neutrality, with Trump speaking in the Democratic primary race for New York’s 10th district, offering the so-called endorsement of Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who is running against Rep. Jerry Nadler. Neither candidate took it seriously.
Spectrum News 1 reached out to Trump’s representatives Friday for comment, but has not yet heard back.
Early voting for the New York congressional primaries is underway, with primary day on August 23rd.