In two of the races for the most competitive Democratic-held Senate seats, Arizona and Georgia, as well as a contest for the seat Republicans may have the most difficulty holding, Pennsylvania, Republicans are worried about Mr. Trump’s potential to rally support behind a candidate who can’t win the general election.
The fear for some in the party is that 2022 echoes 2010, when Republicans took back the House but fell short in the Senate because they had elevated candidates who could not prevail in November.
For many Republicans, though, what’s more alarming about the Cheney-Trump feud are the implications for the party’s long-term health.
Whether Ms. Cheney seeks to fight back electorally — perhaps in a symbolic long-shot White House bid in 2024 — she’s plainly comfortable with political martyrdom.
In fact, after largely voting with Mr. Trump over the last four years and trying to stay out of his line of fire, she seems to welcome his hatred and the opportunity it offers to change, or at least shame, the party.
“If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I’m not your person; you have plenty of others to choose from,” she told her colleagues during the caucus meeting, according to a Republican in the room. “But I promise you this: After today, I will be leading the fight to restore our party and our nation to conservative principles, to defeating socialism, to defending our republic, to making the G.O.P. worthy again of being the party of Lincoln.”
Mr. Trump’s most prominent defenders were not exactly worried.
“She can run against the president, anyone can try to run against the president, but there’s no way he’s losing,” Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio said after the meeting. “He’s going to win the Republican primary and he’s going to be president if he decides to run.”