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The title to the post is the question being asked on PowerLine in light of an upset victory in Texas by the candidate not endorsed by President Donald Trump:
Tuesday was election day in a special race to select a successor to Rep. Ron Wright in Texas’ Sixth Congressional District. Wright died from the Wuhan coronavirus.
The candidates were Wright’s widow, Susan Wright, and Texas state Rep. Jake Ellzey. Both are conservative Republicans.
Susan Wright was the favorite and the leader in polls. She won the most votes in the primary, in which Ellzey barely finished second, just 354 votes ahead of the leading Democrat. In addition, Wright had the endorsement of former president Trump.
But Ellzey won the race by a margin of 53-47.
Mark Davis, a conservative talk show host in Dallas said:
The Trump base in District 6 paid little attention to the fact that Susan got his endorsement. They know that Trump had no familiarity with her and no familiarity with this race.
When, for whatever reason, the Trump base pays little attention to a Trump endorsement, that’s evidence of a loss of influence.
The Sixth District includes suburbs of Dallas/Fort Worth. Trump’s endorsements probably carry greater value in more rural districts. But any sign of waning Trump influence among Republican voters has some significance and, from my perspective, is good news.
But I think Paul Mirengoff, the author of the PowerLine piece, gets it wrong. Davis hints at what I think is the real answer: Trump supporters in the main are neither stupid nor cult worshippers. They support Trumpism, and not Donald Trump per se. They internalize Trumpism as the issues and policy approaches that Donald Trump identified and adopted in 2016. They see Donald Trump as a champion and leader to promote solutions they value. If someone arises who can be as effective as President Trump in promoting these solutions without the baggage, most Trump supporters would happily shift allegiance. But Progressive and NT (and media and Deep State) antagonisms raise serious questions as to whether someone other than President Trump can take on the mantle of Trumpism. Trump supporters are not stupid — they want Trumpism to succeed (which they identify with a proper republican form of government that focuses on the needs and interests of American citizens) — and therefore will not abandon Trump until there is an acceptable alternative that can win. This also means that when Trump weighs into a local district contest if the voters see A as more appropriate than B they will appropriately understand that the Trump organization may not know as well as they do what is best for the district.
A key point in Mirengoff’s article that confirms my thesis is this:
Although Trump endorsed his opponent, Ellzey did not run as an anti-Trump candidate.
In other words, Ellzey did not reject Trumpism. His opponent’s deceased husband was a Trump supporter and it was natural that the Trump organization endorsed the widow who chose to run for the seat her husband held. In fact, it would have been a bad look had they not endorsed her. But it is hardly an upset that Ellzey won without attacking Trumpism. Had he done so and won — that would have been an upset.Published in