Even if the “Trump slot” is open, how many GOP primary voters will be thinking, “Hey, that Josh Hawley guy was the only senator who stood up against the crooked election that stole the presidency from Trump, I’m going to support him because of that”? How many people will even remember the vote to certify the Electoral College results?

Whatever happens in the next three years, I doubt there will be much of a market for being a sort-of, kind-of, Trump-Lite. I think the evidence of the past five years shows Trump’s schtick doesn’t work well for anybody who doesn’t start with 100-percent name recognition, 30 years of being a ubiquitous icon of wealth and success, a long-running prime-time reality show, their name on buildings across the country, and so on. And it’s really debatable if prep-school, Stanford University, articles editor of the Yale Law Journal at Yale Law School, clerk to Chief Justice John Roberts, Temple Bar Scholar, University of Missouri law-school professor, Teddy Roosevelt biography–writing Josh Hawley is going to be the most convincing populist voice in the field.

Nope. Josh Hawley’s best path to the GOP nomination is to be the best Josh Hawley he can be, not trying to be a more erudite version of Donald Trump. If he tries that, he’s always going to come across as inauthentic.