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Republicans like Mike Johnson show up to Trump's trial to support the former president.

GOP senators tell RNC: Let Hogan break from Trump

It’s a familiar spot for Senate Republicans — watching their party and its voters seemingly prioritize loyalty to former President Donald Trump over winning the Senate majority.

It was a problem in 2020 when Trump forced GOP candidates to parrot his lies about the presidential election and essentially handed both of Georgia’s Senate seats to Democrats.

And it was a problem in 2022 when Trump’s preferred candidates won GOP primaries — without resistance from the NRSC — and couldn’t win the general election.

Now, Republican senators are contending with an RNC co-chair who’s trashing Larry Hogan, the GOP candidate with the best chance in decades to flip a Senate seat in deep-blue Maryland. All because he didn’t toe the party line on Trump’s conviction in his New York hush-money trial.

Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, RNC co-chair Lara Trump said Hogan “doesn’t deserve the respect of anyone in the Republican Party” over his refusal to condemn the former president’s conviction.

The nightmare scenario for GOP senators here is that loyalty to Trump once again becomes the priority, at the expense of a Senate majority. Many Republican senators believe this is exactly why they lost in 2020 and 2022.

Their message this time around: Let Hogan break from Trump when he needs to.

“We’ve got to give him latitude to win his race in Maryland,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said. “What we don’t want to do is have a scenario where we win the White House and we don’t have a majority in the Senate. That would make no sense at all. President Trump would get nothing done.”

NRSC Chair Steve Daines was even more blunt, telling us: “Larry Hogan is running for the U.S. Senate in Maryland, not Mississippi.”

Trump allies respond: Not every GOP senator expressed frustration with Lara Trump’s comments.

Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), a major Trump ally, said that while he hopes Hogan wins in Maryland, Hogan’s comments about Trump’s conviction were “a huge mistake.”

“He obviously is going to run a different campaign than I would run,” Vance acknowledged. “But look, when he says things that alienate the majority of Republicans… I think it’s certainly reasonable to criticize him. I still hope he wins.”

— Andrew Desiderio and Max Cohen

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