As former President Donald Trump touches down in Florida, there are still questions about his lasting impact in Washington D.C. and beyond.
Many of the lawmakers that remain in Washington, Austin, and elsewhere staunchly supported Trump until the very end, and now many wonder about the Trump supporters' political future in the months and years ahead.
“I think most Texas Republicans are in good shape,” Rice Political Science Professor Mark Jones said. “Most Texas Republicans are in pretty good shape because while Donald Trump’s popularity has dropped, he still remains very popular among Texas Republican primary voters.”
The question for Jones is what does the political future look like for Republican Trump supporters elsewhere?
“The Republicans who are most concerned about their ties to Trump are those Republican House members who are in swing districts and those statewide senators and governors who are in very competitive states,” said Jones.
Matthew Wilson is a political science professor at SMU. He said the big issue right now is how the Republican Party collectively deals with the Trump legacy.
“Politically, I don’t think Republicans gain much by repudiating Donald Trump, because that alienates his strong base of supporters,” Wilson said. “On the other hand, to really be competitive in a broader general election, Republicans need to move on from Trump.”
“I think a conflict we’re likely to see is tension in the Texas Republican Party with those Republicans who want to move on from Donald Trump and those who remain loyal to him and want to retain him as a leader,” said Jones.
Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, United States Senator Ted Cruz, and Attorney General Ken Paxton are some of Trump’s biggest fans. Paxton released a statement congratulating Biden, but promising Texans he will continue to fight against – what Paxton calls – “the many unconstitutional and illegal actions that the new administration will take.”
Then there’s North Texas freshman Republican Representative Beth Van Duyne, a Trump loyalist, who wrote a letter to President Biden with 16 freshman GOP Representatives pledging to “rise above the partisan fray to negotiate meaningful change for Americans across the nation.”
Trump was one of the most controversial president’s in American history, and his impact will continue long after his final day in Washington.
“For the Republican Party the real issue with Donald Trump is how to transition into a post-Trump-era and how much room for Donald Trump in that post-Trump era,” said Jones.