The GOP establishment is none too happy with Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley at the moment. As the date of the Congressional joint session to confirm the result of the presidential election draws closer, Republican lawmakers are making their decisions regarding their stance on the outcome.
Earlier this week, Hawley announced that he would be joining with Republican lawmakers in objecting to the outcome of the presidential race during the joint session. Apparently, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other establishment GOPers didn’t approve of Hawley’s declaration.
McConnell has also expressed concern that the vote could hurt GOP senators facing tough general election fights by alienating moderate voters. Opposing the GOP-led objection, meanwhile, could jeopardize Republicans’ primary prospects by turning off voters who are convinced the election was stolen from Trump.
The conflict between Hawley and the establishment was further emphasized during a Thursday conference call in which McConnell asked Hawley why he plans to object to the Electoral College vote. The Senate leader was answered with silence because Hawley did not attend the meeting.
During the call, McConnell described Wednesday’s vote as among the most monumental votes the senators would ever cast. According to multiple people familiar with the discussion, the Senate GOP leader also asked Hawley several times to walk through how his objection would play out.
Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey also took issue with Hawley’s decision during the conference call, “delivering what one person briefed on the remarks described as a forceful denunciation,” according to Politico. Hawley indicated that his objections center on the Keystone State due to its failure to abide by their own election laws.
GOP lawmakers were irritated that Hawley failed to attend the conference, arguing that he should have expected to answer questions on the matter. The senator emailed his colleagues, defending his decision.
“If you’ve been speaking to folks at home, I’m sure you know how deeply angry and disillusioned many, many people are – and how frustrated that Congress has taken no action,” he wrote.
“I strongly believe there should be a full-fledged congressional investigation and also a slate of election integrity legislation,” Hawley continued. “I intend to object during the certification process on January 6 in order to force these issues to the fore, and to point out the unprecedented failure of states like Pennsylvania to follow their own election laws and the unprecedented efforts of Big Tech corporations to interfere with the election.”
Some have suggested that Hawley plans to object on Jan. 6 to build his credibility as an outsider. Indeed, since he became a senator, he cast himself as a non-establishment figure and a crusader against big tech. For his part, McConnell is concerned that Hawley’s objection could politically damage other Republican politicians during the 2022 midterm elections.
It appears that this issue might be the opening salvo in what will surely be a fiery battle between the establishment and non-establishment factions of the Republican Party, and Hawley is showing that he is not afraid to push back. Is he trying to further establish his non-establishment cred in this situation? Of course he is, and it’s a smart move if he wishes to position himself as an outsider. He is a politician, after all.
But even though the objections have a low chance for success, it still sends a message: Not every conservative is willing to remain silent on the issue of election integrity. If they go down, they will go down swinging instead of allowing the establishment to concede with a milquetoast smile on their faces.