"Get on the team or shut up": How Trump created an army of GOP enforcers

In Oklahoma, the newly installed party chair is endorsing a primary challenge to GOP Sen. James Lankford, the home state incumbent who crossed Trump by voting to uphold results of the November election. In Michigan, the state party chair joked about assassinating two Republican House members who voted to impeach Trump. Arizona’s state chair accused Republican Gov. Doug Ducey of nothing less than killing people by restricting the use of hydroxychloroquine, a Trump obsession, in response to the coronavirus pandemic...

“It’s purity tests, 100 percent,” said Landon Brown, a Republican state lawmaker from Wyoming whose state party chair, Frank Eathorne, earned Trump’s public endorsement for reelection this year after the state party censured Rep. Liz Cheney for her vote to impeach Trump. “When it comes to the party, what I have started seeing, especially in the past four to five years … it’s much more a hard-line, defined, ‘If you don’t vote this way, you’re not a Republican.’"...

Between Trump’s still-domineering hand on the party and a GOP base that remains intensely loyal to the former president, the imperative for state party chairs is to intertwine his interests with that of the party — fearful that failing to do so may alienate supporters. This is despite Trump’s failure to win a second term and the loss of Republican majorities in Congress during his watch.

“The party’s been taken over by people who have been elected since he became the president who in effect said, ‘Get on the team or shut up,’” said Allen Weh, a former chair of the New Mexico Republican Party and a Trump ally.