Donald Trump won't go away easy, will force a 2024 fight with DeSantis – USA TODAY

Welcome to the resistance, Republicans.
After the midterm elections, the red wave that wasn’t, many of you seem to have accepted the fact that Donald Trump is a noisy albatross around your party’s neck and also … how can I put this nicely? … the worst.
It took y’all about six years to catch up, but I’m glad you’re here. So now the question is: How do you extract this inflamed molar from your party’s mouth? Especially when the molar in question appears poised to announce next Tuesday that he’s running for president again.
Watching you all try to shake loose of Trump is going to be like watching a drunk wildebeest flailing to fight off a rabid honey badger.
Once in thrall to the man from Mar-a-Lago, you Republicans have now had your Fox-News-blown bubble popped.
So it begins:We just got through the midterms, but the DeSantis-Trump rivalry has already begun
After the election wipeout, the website for conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post had the mocking headline “Trumpty Dumpty.” The Drudge Report’s page blasted the headline: “TOXIC TRUMP IN MAGA MELTDOWN.”
Scott Jennings, a former deputy to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, tweeted 1:45 a.m. Wednesday: “How could you look at these results tonight and conclude Trump has any chance of winning a national election in 2024?” 
Geoff Duncan, Georgia’s Republican lieutenant governor, told CNN that Trump would be a drag on the GOP’s hopes to get Herschel Walker to win the state’s U.S. Senate runoff, saying: “I can’t imagine anybody would think Donald Trump would be a tailwind to Herschel Walker’s campaign in a runoff scenario.”
Election analysis:What if we told you Trump helps Warnock in Georgia, not Walker
It’s like the entire Republican Party woke up and realized the monster it went to bed with is, in fact, a monster, and started looking for a way to hop out of bed without him ripping the whole party apart.
It’s not going to happen. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who dominated the vote and helped turn the state red as a clown’s nose, is the guy you’re all pining for now, so what did Trump do? He nicknamed him “Ron DeSanctimonious” and then suggested he has dirt on the governor that he might let slip should DeSantis run against him.
Do you think Trump – Donald freakin’ Trump – is going to quietly step aside, forget his ludicrous crusade against a “stolen election” and let an uncharismatic drip like DeSantis take his King-of-the-Republicans crown?
Not gonna happen. Your party made a Faustian bargain with a real estate huckster in exchange for a four-year spurt of executive power and a conservative U.S. Supreme Court. One doesn’t generally walk away from such a bargain fully intact.
And why would Trump want to walk away? He has a cult-like following he grifts daily with scammy emails and overpriced “MAGA” gear. He could tell his faithful followers to walk naked into a lake filled with piranhas and they would do it holding signs that read: “FISH BITES 4 FREEDOM! #MAGA”
Trump’s not going to give that up, and even if he did, do you think that riled-up base of voters would just start slavishly following someone like DeSantis? Say what you want about Trump – and I have said A LOT – but he has a bullying charm that appeals to certain people.
DeSantis has the visceral appeal of a grumpy rutabaga. The morale among cult members would drop precipitously.
So, my newfound Republican friends, here are your unenviable options:
1) Dump Trump and go all-in with DeSantis as a presidential primary candidate. Trump would likely still enter the primary and verbally disembowel the Florida governor, either beating him outright or weakening him so much he’s dead meat in the general election. Or Trump might walk away and launch an independent bid, taking his base with him and splitting Republican voters into two useless blocs.
2) Continue coddling Trump and let the GOP primary play out, which would produce the same outcome as option No. 1.
Dump Trump:Come on, Republicans. Our midterm losses are the final straw.
3) Attempt to con Trump into standing down and playing the role of “elder GOP statesman,” possibly by offering to pay his legal bills and promising to constantly kiss up to him. He would go along with this for a bit, until Republican fawning over DeSantis became too much and his need to be the alpha male overrode whatever promises he had made. Chaos would ensue, and the party would be fractured.
4) Stick with Trump and encourage DeSantis to wait for the 2028 election. Given that Trump hurt the GOP badly in the 2018 midterms, lost the 2020 presidential election and again hurt Republicans in this year’s midterms, he will be an electoral disaster. He’ll keep prattling on about a stolen election and his cruelty and divisiveness, now known commodities, will doom GOP hopes to win the White House and further tarnish the party’s image.
There is no winning scenario. To survive and attempt to rebuild its image – an image voters clearly rejected in the election that ended Tuesday night – the Republican Party needs to get past Trump.
But if you think he’s going to let that happen without a tumultuous fight, you haven’t been paying attention to Donald Trump. That guy is THE WORST.
Follow USA TODAY columnist Rex Huppke on Twitter @RexHuppke and Facebook:
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