Sasse’s independent positioning is raising buzz that he’s thinking about a 2024 presidential campaign, filling a niche as the lone Republican willing to challenge Trump’s hold on the Republican Party. Such a strategy only works if Trump loses his reelection bid decisively, and leaves behind chunk of voters willing to move beyond his brand of scorched-earth politics. Polls show Trump losing to Joe Biden and trailing in nearly all of the contested battlegrounds, potentially creating an opening for that space within the party.

There’s still limited room in the Republican Party for such heterodoxy. For all the hype over popular blue-state Republican governors, such as Maryland’s Larry Hogan or Massachusetts’ Charlie Baker, they’re too moderate on other core issues (immigration and abortion rights) to have any future in national Republican politics. On the flip side, a onetime favorite of Trump-skeptical Republicans, former United Nations Amb. Nikki Haley, has become a reliable Trump loyalist, creating space for a conservative like Sasse, who has been more critical of the president.

At the least, Sasse’s willingness to challenge the president is a sign that Republicans are beginning to grapple with the possibility of what the party will look like in a post-Trump world.