CNN  — 

Candidates matter.

Which is why Senate and House party committees have long reserved the right to wade into contentious primary fights and pick the candidate they believe has the best chance of winning a seat for them in the general election.

And why Florida Sen. Rick Scott’s (R) decision, as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, to stay entirely out of all primary fights in the 2022 election is a big deal, and a major risk.

“We’re not going to participate,” Scott told The Washington Post for a profile that ran over the weekend. “I think the public will pick the right candidate, and it’ll be somebody that can get through the general election.”

There’s already several examples on the 2022 Senate battlefield where Scott’s non-involvement pledge could have significant consequences.

Take Missouri, where former Gov. Eric Greitens, who resigned as the state’s top elected official in 2018 amid allegations of sexual misconduct, is running to replace retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R). Greitens is closely aligning himself with former President Donald Trump and casting himself as a victim of an insidious political insider culture. “For a lot of the insiders, the cabal, the establishment, this is their little profit system,” Greitens said in March. “It doesn’t surprise me that there are insiders and lobbyists and establishment folks who don’t want to see us in, but we don’t work for them.”

The worry is that Greitens’ name ID from his time as governor coupled with his work to tie himself to Trump and what could be a crowded GOP field might make him hard to beat in a primary – but that his past behavior could doom him or at least make the seat far more competitive than it needs to be in the general election.

We’ve seen that happen before in Missouri. In 2012, then-Rep. Todd Akin, a darling of social conservatives, emerged from a crowded primary field as the nominee and then promptly threw away his chances of beating Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) when he said, in August of that year, that women didn’t usually get pregnant in cases of “legitimate rape” because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

McCaskill won by 16 points even as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was carrying the Show Me State by 10 points.

In Alabama, there’s a similar situation unfolding. Rep. Mo Brooks, one of Trump’s most staunch allies and the first member of Congress to announce that he would object to the 2020 Electoral College results, is running for the seat of retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R).

The GOP field in Republican-friendly Alabama is expected to be crowded, which could well play to Brooks’ advantage. Plus, he has already won the endorsement of Trump. “Few Republicans have as much COURAGE and FIGHT as Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks,” the former president said in a statement earlier this month.

If Brooks is the Republican nominee, he would start off the general election with an advantage over any Democrat given the clear GOP lean of the state. But again recent history should be a warning for Republicans. Democrat Doug Jones managed to win the December 2017 Senate special election in Alabama because Republicans nominated Roy Moore, the deeply controversial former chief justice of the state Supreme Court.

That’s not to say Brooks is Moore. He isn’t. And despite Moore’s disastrous 2017 candidacy, he only lost to Jones by 2 points – a testament to how incredibly Republican the state is.

But if Brooks is the Republican nominee, it’s uniquely possible that Scott’s committee – and other conservative outside groups – might have to spend some money to ensure he wins. And any dollar that goes to Alabama is one that can’t go to a GOP pickup opportunity in Georgia or Arizona or Nevada.

The Senate race in Alaska poses another challenge for Scott’s non-intervention promise. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) has emerged as public enemy No. 1 for Trump and a Trump-aligned candidate – former Alaska Department of Administration commissioner Kelly Tshibaka – has already announced she will take on the incumbent. (Murkowski has yet to announce whether she will run again.) Trump has said he will campaign against Murkowski while the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), just endorsed Murkowski for reelection.

Nominating a Republican other than Murkowski would put the seat in more jeopardy, although the burden of proof is on Democrats to show they can win a general election in Alaska.

While Senate races in other key states are less well-formed, there are Trump-y candidates weighing races in Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, who, if they won primaries, would almost certainly lessen the GOP’s chances – by varying degrees – in November 2022.

Why would Scott take such a big risk that, in his words, “the public will pick the right candidate?”

Because of his own political ambitions. If Trump doesn’t run for president in 2024, Scott will take a very hard look at getting in that race. And he knows that if he spent two years using the power of the Senate GOP campaign committee endorsing against the likes of Greitens and Brooks and Tshibaka, he has very little chance of winning over Trump’s base – a bloc of votes that any candidate will need if they want to be the party’s presidential nominee.

So Scott sits on the sidelines – potentially jeopardizing Republicans’ chances of winning back the Senate majority in 2022 but strengthening his own presidential prospects.