But others have grown frustrated that Mr. Hawley thrust the party into a lose-lose choice, and that he has done little to explain his actions. When Republican senators convened a call on New Year’s Eve to discuss the looming certification process, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, twice called on Mr. Hawley to explain his views. The requests were met with silence; Mr. Hawley was not on the line, aides said, because of a scheduling conflict.
He still has not said which states he plans to object to. House Republicans are eyeing six — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. But Mr. Hawley has so far singled out only Pennsylvania, where he argues that a law loosening restrictions on mail-in voting violated the state’s Constitution.
Mr. McConnell had strenuously discouraged senators from joining the House’s objections, warning it could put Republicans in a tight spot, particularly difficult those up for re-election in 2022. Senator Roy Blunt, the senior senator from Mr. Hawley’s state, is among them.
“I think that if you have a plan, it should be a plan that has some chance of working,” Mr. Blunt told reporters on Sunday, though an aide declined a request for an interview about Mr. Hawley.
In the face of Republican criticism, Mr. Hawley wrote to colleagues saying he would prefer to have a debate on the Senate floor “for all of the American people to judge” rather than “by press release, conference call or email.”
It is a position other senators might hesitate to put their colleagues in, but like Mr. Trump, Mr. Hawley prides himself on not playing by Washington conventions.
He often promotes his small-town upbringing in western Missouri, inveighing against coastal elites who he says used big business, technology and media to slowly marginalize working people. Though he holds deeply conservative views on abortion rights and other cultural issues, he speaks comfortably about the dignity of work and labor unions in language often used by the left. When the coronavirus pandemic began ravaging the economy last year, he pushed first for government-sponsored wage replacement, and later $2,000 direct payments to Americans, teaming up with Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont.