There is no denying that Donald Trump was a force majeur within the Republican Party in recent years, dragging the GOP hard to the right with the power of the MAGA movement. Now, as the organization ponders their next moves, some are wondering if the party can remain intact until 2024.
Much of the talk of a split within the GOP has insinuated that the MAGA side of the party could break off, possibly to create the “Patriot Party”, or some similarly-monikered far-right version of itself.
Now, one former legislator is contemplating the potential for a different split, however: One in which the centrist members of the party disassociate themselves from the radical-right.
Charlie Dent’s email filled up when news spread he was among Republican officials looking to form a center-right party or faction.
It wasn’t the hate mail the former Lehigh Valley congressman often gets after criticizing Donald Trump. They were messages from people wanting to know how they could sign up.
“These were all people wanting something, wanting something different,” Dent told me Tuesday. “So I think there’s an appetite for something new.”
But the former Pennsylvania Congressman wasn’t so sure it would be necessary.
Dent prefers a faction, as he said third parties don’t have a track record of success.
“We can almost, while being affiliated with Republicans, operate as free agents and basically pick and choose our fights,” he said. “Many of the people who are part of this group supported Biden, so we have already done that.
“If the candidate’s too QAnon or Trumpian … reserve the right to go elsewhere.”
He said the center-right has gotten “lip service” from the Republican Party for too long.
“They call them RINOS [Republicans in name only] or squishes and speak disparaging … suggesting that the center is somehow weak-kneed or spineless,” said Dent, of Allentown.
The statement comes just ahead of a much-anticipated CPAC speech by Donald Trump, in which he is expected to exert his authority over the GOP and potentially make overtures regarding his plans to run for president again in 2024.