2023 Will Be the Year of Decision for Republican Presidential Hopefuls

Republican presidential hopefuls face a “year of decision” in 2023 as they weigh White House bids against not just one but two presidents: Donald Trump and Joe Biden.


With the midterm elections quickly fading in the rearview mirror, Republican presidential hopefuls will face a “year of decision” (to quote Harry Truman) in 2023 as they weigh White House bids against not just one but two presidents: Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

  • According to the Washington Post, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, Sen. Tim Scott and outgoing Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas have all been ramping up their political operations in preparation for possible presidential bids.
  • DeSantis, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin plan to harness the power of their governorships to push through legislative agendas in their states that could serve as the basis for their presidential bids.
  • Former vice president Mike Pence, former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, and outgoing Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland have all said they would look closely at a presidential campaign over the holidays, according to the New York Times.
  • Pence said in a CBS interview he believes a 2024 primary will feature “better options” than Trump, the only declared candidate. Few Republicans appear to be intimidated by the former president’s presence in the primary field.
  • The former president’s legal troubles have dominated the headlines throughout the first six weeks of his comeback bid. Released just before Christmas, the Jan. 6 committee’s mammoth final report blames Trump and Trump alone for the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
  • The ongoing probe investigating whether possible illegal actions were committed by Trump and his allies during their attempts to reverse Trump’s defeat in Georgia in 2020 “appears to be wrapping up its work,” according to the Associated Press.
  • Trump also faces a House inquiry into his tax returns, an ongoing federal investigation into the former president’s possible mishandling of classified information, and civil and criminal probes into his business dealings by New York State prosecutors.
  • Republican candidates will have to navigate a turbulent political environment for their party after a disappointing midterm performance for the G.O.P. Republican House candidates only won 38% of independents in 2022 which should serve as a giant flashing warning sign about the health of the party’s brand.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • The Washington Post reported on the Biden team’s more confrontational strategy for dealing with Republicans heading into 2023. The White House plans to aggressively highlight the more exotic or loud Republicans – including Trump – to draw a contrast in the public’s mind.
  • CNN’s Ronald Brownstein outlined the “5 ‘known unknowns’ that will define 2024.” The ‘known unknowns’ include the outcome of the 2024 G.O.P. primary, voters’ views of the economy and Biden, and how the Republican House deals with Biden in the New Year.
  • NBC News reported Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to not let Trump hijack Republican primaries for Senate with exotic candidates after McConnell largely deferred to the former president’s judgment in 2022. After the resounding failures of the Trump candidates, McConnell plans to “actively look for quality candidates” for 2024.



  • The Washington Examiner’s David Freddoso argued a 2024 campaign is DeSantis’ only chance to become president. If DeSantis waits until 2028, he’ll be term-limited and out of office without any other jobs to run for. As recent history shows, ex-G.O.P. governors who were first-time candidates have crashed out of Republican primaries in 2008, 2012, and 2016.
  • Commentary’s John Podhoretz wrote “the question that now faces the Republican Party is whether its toxic romance with Trump will poison the well for the GOP for a generation” after a series of defeats of Trump-backed candidates (and Trump himself in 2020) that constituted “the most decisive rejection of the influence of any individual politician in our lifetimes.”
  • The Federalist’s Nathanael Blake argues DeSantis’ appeal to potential 2024 primary voters comes from the governor’s understanding that “political power is meant to be used.” Should DeSantis defeat Trump, “it will be because he persuaded Republican voters that he will be a more effective leader than Trump — not because he repudiated the former president’s policies or followers.”


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© Dominic Moore, 2022