U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie is back in the good graces of Donald Trump, who declared two years ago that the Kentucky maverick should be thrown out of the Republican Party.
Massie won Trump's endorsement Tuesday ahead of the Bluegrass State's primary election next week. In a statement, Trump referred to the libertarian-minded congressman as a “Conservative Warrior” and a “first-rate Defender of the Constitution.”
It's quite a turnaround from March 2020, when Trump denounced Massie as a “third rate Grandstander” for trying to stall a sweeping $2.2 trillion coronavirus aid package.
While his maneuver failed, Massie’s action forced hundreds of lawmakers to return to the Capitol after a nearly two-week recess — contradicting the wishes of public health experts who were urging people to keep a safe social distance from one another to avoid exacerbating the pandemic.
At the time, Trump called Massie “a disaster for America, and for the Great State of Kentucky!” and urged GOP leaders to “throw Massie out of Republican Party!″
The pressure didn't stop congressman from trying to hold up what he considered to be an unconstitutional vote for a wasteful bill. Massie — known for going his own way in Congress — said at the time that his request for a recorded vote was “to make sure our republic doesn’t die by unanimous consent in an empty chamber.″
Despite the public tongue-lashing from Trump, Massie went on to trounce his Republican primary challenger in 2020 on his way to reelection in the northern Kentucky district.
Now Massie has the former president's backing in seeking another term in the GOP stronghold. Massie is strongly favored to win his contested GOP primary next week.
One of Massie's primary challengers, Claire Wirth, has portrayed herself as a stronger supporter of Trump's agenda than the congressman.
Trump on Tuesday also endorsed Kentucky's four other Republican congressmen, who are heavily favored to win new terms in the GOP-trending state. The outcomes of Trump-endorsed races are closely watched as the former president tries to assert his dominance over the party ahead of another potential presidential run in 2024.
Bruce Schreiner, The Associated Press