Donald Trump is once again running for president, setting off the 2024 campaign cycle with a flourish even before the last ballots of the 2022 election have been counted.
The former president announced his intent to run for the 2024 GOP nomination on Tuesday night in a lavish reception at his Mar-a-Lago retreat with invited guests, lawmakers and members of the press.
But while Trump lays out his campaign trail at his Florida estate, his polarizing status even within his own party has election-watchers buzzing about who in the Republican Party would step up to challenge him.
Furthermore, a poor GOP performance in the midterms has many establishment figures pointing the finger at Trump for endorsing fringe-right candidates against moderate opponents in Republican primaries all over the country.
DailyMail.com has compiled a list of eight likely Republican 2024 candidates who could potentially challenge Trump for leadership of the party in 2024.
Donald Trump (pictured on Election Day) is running for president again, he said at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday night
Mike Pence: Former VP who has distanced himself from Trump and said there were ‘better choices’ for 2024
Mike Pence said during an interview on ABC News on Monday night that he was giving a 2024 bid ‘prayerful consideration’
Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence, told ABC News in a Monday night interview that there were ‘better choices’ than his old running mate in 2024 and that he was giving his own White House bid ‘prayerful consideration.’
But he demurred when asked about his odds of beating Trump in a primary, emphasizing that it would be up to the voters.
Still, Pence has dropped numerous hints that he’s surveying the 2024 field. Pence also blasted Trump for his conduct on January 6, calling the angry tweets he published while his supporters were storming the US Capitol ‘reckless.’
Asked whether he’d support Trump in 2024 during a speech at Georgetown University last month, Pence said: ‘There might be somebody else I’d prefer more.’
He’s also addressing American voters directly in a CNN town hall on Wednesday night.
Early GOP voters polls, however, indicate that there may not be enough support for Pence. Most surveys show the ex-veep trailing Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Ron DeSantis: The Republican’s rising star after his emphatic Florida win – who is already in a war of words with Trump
Ron DeSantis cruised to a commanding victory last Tuesday, winning a second term against House Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist despite only a narrow victory for the Tallahassee governor’s mansion in 2018.
Overall, his state of Florida saw Republicans over-perform compared to the rest of the country – and some pundits are crediting DeSantis’ influence on the GOP.
DeSantis has embraced Trump’s ‘America First,’ combative style of politics that’s seen him and his deputies make headline for clashes with the Biden administration, LGBTQ activists and the press.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who won re-election in a landslide last Tuesday, is widely seen as a potential 2024 frontrunner
But mainstream Republicans also see him as a more sanitized and calculated version of the former president, able to appeal to Trump’s MAGA base while not turning off moderates in the party and independent voters. At 44, he’s also more than three decades younger than Trump.
DeSantis has landed at a close second to Trump in early Republican primary polls, and even overtakes him in some smaller-scale state surveys.
He also has refused to rule out his own 2024 bid, even if it means challenging Trump – much to the former president’s fury.
Trump reluctantly endorsed DeSantis’ re-election bid on the Sunday before Election Day after being publicly called out for mocking him as ‘Ron DeSanctimonious’ the night before.
Nikki Haley: Former South Carolina Governor who was one of first to criticize Trump after January 6
Before becoming the Trump administration’s United Nations ambassador, Nikki Haley was seen as a rising GOP star in her own right.
Nikki Haley has said she would not challenge Trump for the presidency but has since dropped hints that she’s at least considering it
Haley, whose parents are originally from India, was the first female Asian American governor and the first woman elected to South Carolina’s governors mansion.
She was among the first Republican officials and former Trump officials to criticize him in the wake of the US Capitol riot, though much of that has since dissipated.
Haley said in April 2021 during a press conference at South Carolina State University that she would support Trump if he ran in 2024 and would not run against him.
But lately the former UN ambassador has been dropping hints of her possible White House ambitions once again.
If President Joe Biden signs an Iran Nuclear Deal-type agreement, she told a crowd at Christians United for Israel’s (CUFI) Washington Summit in July 2022, ‘I’ll make you a promise: The next president will shred it on her first day in office.’
She spoke out against Trump with action rather than words in late September when Haley endorsed Colorado Senate candidate Joe O’Dea, who was running an anti-Trump GOP platform and pledged to ‘actively’ campaign against him in 2024. O’Dea wound up losing to incumbent Democrat Sen. Michael Bennet.
Mike Pompeo: Trump Cabinet official and foreign policy heavyweight who has defended his old boss… until now
Another former Trump Cabinet official, ex-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, also appears to be putting the feelers out for his own presidential bid.
He’s long avoided weighing in on Trump personally and has defended his White House record whenever asked by the press, but a pair of recent tweets fired off by Pompeo appear to be veiled criticisms of his old boss.
Another former Trump Cabinet official, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is also reportedly considering a run
‘Conservatives are elected when we deliver. Not when we just rail on social media. That’s how we can win. We fight for families and a strong America,’ Pompeo wrote on November 10, two days after a slew of Trump-endorsed midterm candidates were either struggling or outright lost in key races.
After Trump attacked Florida’s governor as ‘Ron DeSanctimonious’ days before the midterms, Pompeo wrote on the platform: ‘Not tired of winning. [Ron DeSantis] you’ve proven conservative policies work. Florida is better for it.’
Further fueling speculation, Pompeo is reaching out to residents of key red and battleground states via digital ads by his Champion American Values PAC less than a week before Trump’s Tuesday 2024 announcement..
The ads in Nevada, New Hampshire, Kansas, Iowa and Florida began running the day after Election Day, according to Business Insider.
Liz Cheney: The Republican outcast from a political dynasty who could win voters from both sides of the aisle
Republican Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney is facing her final days in the House of Representatives after being defeated by a Trump-backed primary challenger in August.
The conservative daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney has earned bipartisan accolades for her vocal criticism of Trump and efforts to hold him to account as vice chair of the January 6 select committee.
Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney is also a possibility, but it’s unclear if she could pass a hyper-partisan GOP primary race
It’s also brought backlash from fellow Republicans still aligned with the former president – making Cheney’s chances of survival in a GOP primary – that’s still dominated by MAGA politics – slim at best.
Still, there have been reports of a left-wing push to vote for Cheney as House Speaker as an act of defiance in the new Congress, even despite the likely narrow GOP majority. So it’s not hard to see her making waves as an Independent or other third-party candidate.
After losing her primary Cheney fueled 2024 speculation with the launch of her own PAC, The Great Task, dedicated to taking down Trump and other election denier candidates.
Cheney’s endorsements of vulnerable moderate Democrats through the country proved effective, with Reps. Elissa Slotkin and Abigail Spanberger defeating more fringe-right rivals.
She also actively campaigned against Trump-backed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, who narrowly lost the race on Monday night.
Cheney has not ruled out a 2024 bid when asked in multiple interviews, but she made one thing certain at the The Texas Tribune Festival this year – that if Trump is the party nominee, she would leave the Republican Party.
The congresswoman’s father is former Vice President Dick Cheney
Tim Scott: The Republican who has made himself into a key figure in Congress – but would he run against Trump?
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott is the only black Republican in Congress’ upper chamber, and is known for reaching across the aisle on racially-charged issues such as police reform.
South Carolina GOP Senator Tim Scott is the only black Republican in the Senate, but said this next six-year term will be his last
He said this new coming term will be his last in the Senate, but Scott has not ruled out a wider political future for himself.
Scott did drop a hint about his future ambitions when claiming victory on Election Day last Tuesday, remarking on how his grandfather voted for Barack Obama in 2012.
‘I wish he had lived long enough to see perhaps another man of color elected president of the United States,’ Scott said according to USA Today. ‘But this time let it be a Republican.’
Both Scott and outside groups aligned with him have also attracted cash and attention from big GOP donors, particularly this year, further fueling buzz around his possible presidential ambitions.
However it’s not clear if Scott, who has not been known for ruffling party leaders’ feathers, would mount a challenge to Trump.
Larry Hogan: Trump’s ‘RINO’ nemesis who has frequently criticized his leadership
Maryland’s term-limited Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has been a frequent critic of Donald Trump’s on the airwaves since the former president left office last year.
The criticism has grown sharper against the backdrop of suggestions that Hogan could run for president himself, after months of advocating for ‘commonsense conservative’ leadership.
Maryland’s term-limited governor, Larry Hogan, has not shied away from criticizing Trump and said his own 2024 bid is up in the air
He actively acted against Trump-backed Republican Dan Cox’s campaign for Maryland governor while posing for pictures with Wes Moore, the Democrat who ended up winning.
Hogan blamed Trump for the party’s losses in 2018, 2020 and 2022 and said continuing to follow him as leader is ‘the definition of insanity’ in an interview with CNN on Sunday.
‘Donald Trump kept saying, we’re going to be winning so much, we will get tired of winning. I’m tired of losing. I mean, that’s all he’s done,’ he said.
He also did not shy away from – but would not directly confirm – suggestions that he is eyeing the White House in the next election cycle.
‘I have been saying since 2020 that we have to get back to a party that appeals to more people, that can win in tough places, like I have done in Maryland. And I think that lane is much wider now than it was a week ago,’ he said.
Glenn Youngkin: The Republican governor who burst onto the scene with his victory in Virginia – while distancing himself from Trump
Glenn Youngkin made a splash on the political scene last year when he scored an upset victory against Virginia Democratic powerhouse Terry McAuliffe to win the Commonwealth’s governors mansion.
He’s carefully toed the line between both factions of the GOP, appearing with and promoting Donald Trump-backed election deniers like Kari Lake while himself largely avoiding the former president on his own campaign trail.
His successful political formula has caught the eye of Republicans looking for a future past Trump.
After Youngkin refused to rule out a potential presidential bid in 2024, Trump launched a racially tinged attack against him on Truth Social.
‘Young Kin (now that’s an interesting take. Sounds Chinese, doesn’t it?) in Virginia couldn’t have won without me. I Endorsed him, did a very big Trump Rally for him telephonically, got MAGA to Vote for him – or he couldn’t have come close to winning. But he knows that, and admits it. Besides, having a hard time with the Dems in Virginia – But he’ll get it done!’ Trump wrote.
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, though a relative political newcomer, is on establishment Republicans’ radar as a conservative leader