Much has been made of the political future of the Trump family, and the relative of former President Donald Trump getting the most buzz for 2022 may be his daughter-in-law Lara Trump.
Lara Trump, the wife of the former president’s son Eric Trump, has been rumored to be interested in running for United States Senate in North Carolina in the next round of midterm elections. But how serious are her aspirations, and what chances might she have if she did run?
Lara Trump could be on the ballot in 2022 | Analysis https://t.co/EF5TszOpU7
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) February 15, 2021
Trump is a native of Wilmington, North Carolina, and a graduate of North Carolina State University with a degree in communications. However, she has not lived in North Carolina in recent years, and would have to move back to the state to run for the seat which will be vacated by the retiring Richard Burr. (RELATED: David Perdue Announces He Won’t Run For Senate In 2022)
Despite that, she has not denied that she is interested in making the move. It was first reported in November, only weeks after the 2020 election, that she was exploring the possibility of running. At the time, former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said Trump would be a “formidable” candidate: “Unlike many typical politicians, she connects with people and is a compelling messenger.”
Her skills as a messenger have made her a frequent surrogate on the stump for her father-in-law. She frequently campaigned during the 2020 election cycle for Donald Trump, and was officially an adviser to his campaign.
This also isn’t the first time Lara Trump has been rumored to be interested in a political office. Her name was floated ahead of the 2020 election cycle as a possible candidate for a New York congressional seat.
Trump has yet to publicly stamp out the rumors this time around like she did for 2020. Donald Trump was known to frequently tease presidential runs before finally following through in 2016, however this would only be the second election cycle in which Lara Trump’s name has been seriously talked about as a candidate.
While she has reportedly discussed a possible run with some, Trump has not laid any substantial groundwork in the state of North Carolina as of now. However, it’s possible she could utilize some of her father-in-law’s campaign infrastructure, and the only candidate to announce so far on the Republican side is former congressman Mark Walker.
It remains to be seen if Trump will run, but a number of onlookers expect that she’ll be a formidable candidate if she does.
One early primary poll showed Trump with a one-point lead, 24% to 23%, over former Gov. Pat McCrory. Walker polled third at 7%. Crucially, 39% of respondents said they were still undecided.
Walker and McCrory, who is expected by many to announce his candidacy later this year, are the two most experienced and formidable names connected to the race so far. Aside from Trump, other potential candidates who have received some attention are Rep. Ted Budd and North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore. One other potentially strong candidate who said he won’t be running is former White House chief of staff and congressman Mark Meadows.
Lara Trump on Donald Trump’s upcoming CPAC appearance: “He is the head of the Republican Party” https://t.co/VyUAO7NGmE
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) February 21, 2021
If Trump is able to absorb some of the support of the former president, she will be in an advantageous position should she choose to run. Donald Trump won the state of North Carolina in both 2016 and 2020. Nationally, 75% of Republicans want the former president to play a prominent role in the future of the GOP, according to one Quinnipiac poll. (RELATED: Former President Donald Trump Leaves Door Open For Possible 2024 Presidential Run)
“The last name of Trump would certainly catapult her into top-tier status,” said Dr. Michael Bitzer, professor of politics and history at North Carolina’s Catawba College. “Her experience on the 2020 campaign trail should give her some insights into what it takes, so she would not necessarily being walking into this contest blindly.”
The North Carolina GOP typically does not take sides in primary battles, and chair Michael Whatley would not weigh in on Lara Trump’s chances specifically if she were to run. However, he did say that “any candidate who comes out of that primary” would be a strong contender in a general election.
Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has agreed with others that believe Trump would be a frontrunner.
“The biggest winner of this whole impeachment trial is Lara Trump,” said Graham, after Burr voted to convict Donald Trump earlier this month. “My dear friend Richard Burr… just made Lara Trump almost the certain nominee for the Senate seat in North Carolina to replace him if she runs, and I certainly will be behind her because she represents the future of the Republican Party.” (RELATED: GOP Is ‘Canceling’ Sen. Burr For Voting To Convict Trump, CNN Reporter Says)
— The Hill (@thehill) February 15, 2021
Lara Trump’s lack of North Carolina residency is the biggest obvious challenge to a potential campaign. It may not sink her though, Bitzer said: “There is precedent for a North Carolina native to return back to the state after a long absence, and that was Elizabeth Dole in 2002 for the U.S. Senate seat that she won that year. If Lara were to run for the GOP nomination, I think her credentials as a native, but more importantly the Trump last name, would enable to her to overcome any issues.”
Trump certainly wouldn’t be the first family member of a president to try and use that platform to launch a political career of their own. Both former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former President George W. Bush, sons of former President George H.W. Bush, successfully ran for office after their father’s presidency. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton successfully ran for United States Senate in New York following her husband Bill Clinton’s presidency.
There is a clear appetite within the Republican Party for more Trump involvement in politics. It’s now up to Lara Trump whether or not she will seize that opportunity.