Republican Campaigning in the Age of Trump

 

Salena Zito’s latest column, “Trump’s not the reason the GOP sputtered in Ohio,” points to continued failure by Republican operatives to accept the message sent by the voters that they must get to the polls in November. Listen to the candidates and the independent PAC ads in your state. How are they doing? It is a mixed bag here in Arizona, so far, but both serious Republican contenders for the US Senate are proclaiming alignment with President Trump.

Salena Zito points to the importance of demonstrating awareness and concern for local issues. Waving around a few national talking points is not a recipe for success.

To identify with your voters is to be present with your voters. Every Republican House candidate running should be on the ground in their district, discussing local issues and refusing national cookie cutter ads made by people who have never stepped foot on their Main Street.

Whether it’s the suburban mom or the blue-collar worker, voters will be willing to listen and connect with a candidate who makes them feel part of their community — and part of something bigger than themselves.

Part of the challenge for candidates is the legal wall between their campaign and independent PACs that purport to be on their side. Consider the example of an anti-Trump establishment GOP PAC, styling itself “DefendArizona.” The Arizona Republic reported on their entry into this primary season.

On Saturday, DefendArizona, a group led by wealthy Arizona donors who often resisted President Donald Trump early in his 2016 campaign, reported that it was spending $958,000 to oppose former state Sen. Kelli Ward.

[…]

DefendArizona, a relatively new political-action committee, has drawn financial support from GOP fundraisers familiar to Arizona politics, such as Randy Kendrick, Paul Baker and Craig Barrett. The group has also reserved time supporting McSally in the fall.

This group’s bright idea was to run a radio ad on conservative talk stations attacking Kelli Ward for seeking to limit Arizona government cooperation with NSA snooping on Americans. The ad tries to compare the Democrats’ sanctuary cities with the bipartisan popular opposition to the unchecked powers of the NSA. This ad is running at the same time that the Republican base is hearing about FISA abuses, for the purpose of defeating the 2016 Republican presidential candidate, and then to overturn or undermine the election results. So who thought that running scary ads comparing the two, but praising cooperation with the NSA, was a good strategy? What part of the primary electorate is supposed to be motivated?

Note that Jeff Flake’s springboard into politics was with the Goldwater Institute, not an advocate for an unchecked surveillance state. In an article about litigation over the same NSA program, Arizona State Senator Kelli Ward sought to counter with state legislation, and a Goldwater Institute representative was quoted on the side of Article III courts taking jurisdiction over FISA court decisions.

Nick Dranias, director of the Goldwater Institute’s Center for Constitutional Government, says Leon likely does have the power to review FISC cases.

[….]

Dranias, who has argued before the Supreme Court, said “my argument would be that the FISA court would not be a full and fair litigation of the underlying constitutional issues because you don’t have an adversarial process” and also that “the Constitution directly vests Article III courts with the power to decide constitutional issues.”

While an anti-Trump PAC attacks Kelli Ward for failing to uncritically support the NSA, both Ward and McSally are busy posturing as the true Trump supporter. They attack each other as not true conservatives, not true Trump supporters, and not trustworthy on MAGA issues. Reports from other states where President Trump won suggest that successful primary candidates at least are getting that their electorates expect support for the MAGA agenda.

In the Wisconsin race for Senate, both Republican candidates aligned themselves with President Trump and getting results for Wisconsin. State Senator Leah Vukmir won.

During their final debate, neither candidate could come up with one thing Trump had done that they would push back on.

“I look at President Trump’s agenda and say it’s a darn good one,” Nicholson said.

Vukmir said, “a liberal elite and the media want nothing more than to bring this president down. I want to see President Trump succeed. When he succeeds, America succeeds.”

Vukmir’s campaign accords with Salena Zito’s admonition about reaching independents and suburban voters with old-fashioned local issues and face-to-face campaigning.

Down in the polls for months, Vukmir relied on an old-fashioned get-out-the-vote ground game to defeat Kevin Nicholson — and the big money behind him — and claim the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate Tuesday.

[…]

She promised to take the fight to Baldwin in the fall.

“Tammy Baldwin has forgotten about the people of this great state and come November this nurse, this mom with a cause is going to send Tammy Baldwin back to the private sector she doesn’t even know exists,” Vukmir said.

Next door to Wisconsin, Minnesota Republicans chose an upstart over a former governor to be their gubernatorial candidate. As John Hinderaker wrote of the Minnesota primaries:

Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson defeated former Governor Tim Pawlenty for the GOP governor nomination.

[…]

Pawlenty’s campaign was unfocused. He likes to think of himself as a futurist, talking about possible technological breakthroughs that might impact public policy issues. Fine. Meanwhile, Johnson was talking about bread and butter conservative issues: lower taxes, reduced spending, cutting government waste, less regulation, making Minnesota competitive.

Minnesota Republican candidates will have to really step up both the local issues and the MAGA theme to drive turnout in the general election. DFL turnout was about twice the Republican turnout. This matters most to the statewide offices, whereas House districts may serve as breakwaters to a blue wave, causing Democrats to pile up huge margins in some districts while narrowly losing others.

Across the competitive states, successful Republican primary candidates are identifying themselves with President Trump’s voters. This, by itself, will not be enough to win comfortably in November. Good candidates are doing as Candidate Trump did, getting out on the ground and identifying with voters’ issues that have been overlooked. As Salena Zito wrote: “That’s why Trump won in 2016 and forged his coalition in the first place.”

How are your state’s candidates doing?

There are 46 comments.

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  1. Curt North Inactive
    Curt North
    @CurtNorth

    She (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Curt North (View Comment):

    Comment #15: It feels like a disparagement and therefore I am asking you to not use it.

    I’m dumbfounded that Rico has come to this.

    This issue is moot. See the ruling of the Mod at Comment #19.

    <span class=”atwho-inserted” contenteditable=”false” data-atwho-at-query=”@garyrobbins“>@garyrobbins

    Ricochet is not a court of law where members litigate and mods “rule” . Please listen and speak respectfully to each other, and the need for moderation should diminish. A consummation (can I say “consummation?”) devoutly to be wished on all sides, I should think

    You wished to bring up the matter of dual meanings of a word (perfectly fine) and the author of the OP explained the context and what he meant. That should have been the end of it, absent a sudden outbreak of inappropriate and derogatory comments. There were none. Please drop the adversarial language and move on .

     

    I have

    • #31
  2. She Member
    She
    @She

    Curt North (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Curt North (View Comment):

    Comment #15: It feels like a disparagement and therefore I am asking you to not use it.

    I’m dumbfounded that Rico has come to this.

    This issue is moot. See the ruling of the Mod at Comment #19.

    <span class=”atwho-inserted” contenteditable=”false” data-atwho-at-query=”@garyrobbins“>@garyrobbins

    Ricochet is not a court of law where members litigate and mods “rule” . Please listen and speak respectfully to each other, and the need for moderation should diminish. A consummation (can I say “consummation?”) devoutly to be wished on all sides, I should think

    You wished to bring up the matter of dual meanings of a word (perfectly fine) and the author of the OP explained the context and what he meant. That should have been the end of it, absent a sudden outbreak of inappropriate and derogatory comments. There were none. Please drop the adversarial language and move on .

     

    I have

    Puzzled, @curtnorth.  Did you think the above comment was addressed to you?  It wasn’t.

     

    • #32
  3. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    @westernchauvinist, what is your read on the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Colorado?

    It looks like the House delegation is 4:3 R to D. Hold, pick up or lose?

    How are they campaigning?

    • #33
  4. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Curt North (View Comment):

    @curtnorth — Are you tracking any competitive races? Are state and local Republicans name checking Trump? Are you seeing real local issues or national AstroTurf ads and speeches?

    • #34
  5. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    AltarGirl (View Comment):

    I’m a bit meh on my Governor guys – Putnam and DeSantis. Both are positioning themselves as pro-trump, but I’d wish they’d stay out of that. Putnam is more obviously paying lip service (not surprising as he opposed Trump prior to primary season). DeSantis, on issues, sound more like he agrees with Trump’s agenda by the way he talks about the issues.

    Alas, the Trump focus means I haven’t really been able to suss it out. I’m voting for DeSantis.

    Scott will make a decent senator, but I haven’t got the local vibe from him, either. His Medicare commercial against Bill Nelson sounds like the NSA ad. But we have retirees out the wazoo, so it would be politically disastrous to run in favor of Medicare cuts.

    I’m unfamiliar with everyone else on my primary ballot. Right now, the biggest local issue in the area cost our Republican his job by not supporting locals’ choices for their area over moneyed business in 2016. I’m thinking the area is trying to incorporate into it’s own city, so those local politics are playing pretty heavy here.

    Ah, I see your primary election is on the same day as Arizona. 

    • #35
  6. Curt North Inactive
    Curt North
    @CurtNorth

    She (View Comment):

    I have

    Puzzled, @curtnorth. Did you think the above comment was addressed to you? It wasn’t.

    Just saw my name in the header there, no ill intent intended.  Three “I” words in a row like that, whoa.

    • #36
  7. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Hat tip to Instapundit for the 2013 flashback:

    https://pjmedia.com/blog/two-dems-warn-nsa-violations-just-tip-of-a-larger-iceberg/

    A pair of civil-liberties Democrats whom the White House tried to appease in a closed-door meeting warned today that fresh reports of thousands of privacy violations by the National Security Agency are just the “tip of a larger iceberg.”

    • #37
  8. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Steering back to the OP, who else is seeing all serious Republican candidates for federal office, in your state, campaign as Trump supporters (a proxy for affirming Trump voters)? And are they also getting the local issues right, casting their net wider to gather in at least a winning plurality of voters?

    Thanks for coming back to the OP.

    @garyrobbins — what is your read on the Arizona gubernatorial race? And what of the Secretary of State race. Do you think Governor Ducey will be in position for cabinet consideration — perhaps Secretary of Labor?

    • #38
  9. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Hypatia (View Comment):

     

    @hypatia — what is your read on races in the state or states you track? Republican candidates getting the right balance of support for the core MAGA voters while pulling in others with local issues? 

    • #39
  10. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    WI Con (View Comment):
    Encouraged that Governor Walker’s opponent will be Tony Evers (State Education Superintendent/basic record of failure) – he’ll make Walker look positively charismatic by comparison.

    Evers has the charisma of a reanimated corpse.

    But as a creature of Madison (Wisconsin’s swampland analog), bought and paid for by the teachers’ unions, he’s also got a lot of money and power behind him. So . . . while I’m encouraged, I also know that the Original Deep State will be working hard on his behalf. Watch for more dirty tricks than we can count.

    • #40
  11. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Steering back to the OP, who else is seeing all serious Republican candidates for federal office, in your state, campaign as Trump supporters (a proxy for affirming Trump voters)? And are they also getting the local issues right, casting their net wider to gather in at least a winning plurality of voters?

    Thanks for coming back to the OP.

    I would like to express a contrarian position. While I dislike Trump’s tweets, they have been amazingly effective at imposing him as the leader of the Republican Party, and enforcing discipline on anyone who crosses him. Tactically, he has been brilliant. Some would say that Trump is enforcing party discipline, however I would say that Trump is enforcing Trump discipline. Regardless, it has been quite effective in the primaries.

    Right now, the overt opposition of Trump is almost always fatal in the primaries. However, I believe that the embrace of Trump will be fatal in the general election.

    Republican office holders are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t. The best result for an office holder is for Trump to never mention you in the primary, and then to be stand-offish in the general election.

    Here is an article that argues that Trump’s tweets have an outsize influence in the primaries.  While the article is from The New Yorker, it still makes valid points.  For better or worse, Trump’s tweets have been a brilliant move, so far.  (They could blow up on him with the Mueller Probe, or in the general election.)

    https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/donald-trumps-grip-on-the-republican-party-just-got-even-tighter

    .

    • #41
  12. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    @westernchauvinist, what is your read on the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Colorado?

    It looks like the House delegation is 4:3 R to D. Hold, pick up or lose?

    How are they campaigning?

    I’ve been meaning to look at it and get back to you. Haven’t had a chance yet.

    • #42
  13. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Here’s a pretty good rundown of how the Colorado governor’s race is shaping up. The authors are professors at Colorado College, which I consider to be ridiculously hard Left, but I think they produced a fairly balanced description. 

    Polis is scary Left to me: Raise the minimum wage, paid family leave, single payer healthcare (it’s a “right” don’t you know? — even though Coloradans voted down single payer by a big margin in a recent election — the Left is relentless and won’t stop until we’ve been completely Californicated), 100% renewable energy by 2040… He promises the world with no consideration for how to pay for it or what it will do to our economy. And he’s been buying his way into Colorado politics for decades. 

    Stapleton might have to play it down the middle if the CC profs are right about Colorado being negative on Trump. However, he seems to be addressing our local issues effectively (I might be biased) and has a good record as State Treasurer. He’ll have to fight hard against Polis’s money machine, though. 

    God help us. I really think Polis might drive us (conservatives) out of the state. Not sure where we’d go, though. The country seems to be going insane with all this preference for socialism over capitalism.

    • #43
  14. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    “NeverTrump or NeuterTrump”? That feels way over the line.

    Huh?? Aren’t you the one telling us to vote for House Democrats so as to “check” Trump? Aka “neuter.”

    And you still haven’t explained what Trump is doing that you want Democrats to keep him from doing. Waiting…

    “Neuter” means to castrate. Find a different word.

    See George Will’s column or Michael Gerson’s column or my excruciatingly numerous posts as to why Trump needs to be checked.

    Not buying the faux outrage. Not changing the term I believe I coined. Gary is perfectly aware that the word “neuter,” as a verb, also means:

    Make ineffective.

    ‘disarmament negotiations that will neuter their military power’

    This is not faux outrage. This is actual outrage. I am a NeverTrumper. As such I am uniquely situated and have standing to say if a term is offensive to me. It is. Just as people who are Pro-Choice should not be called Baby Murders, and people who are Pro-Life should not be called Anti-Choice, someone who is NeverTrump should have the disrection to object to what they perceive as a slur.

    There was a time when I used the name “Tr*mpk*ns” to denote people who support Trump. Trump Supporters objected. I was asked informally by the moderators to cease using that name, and I did. Later a formal policy was enacted and published.

    I assert that the name “NeuterTrump” that you say you have coined is demeaning, insulting, and unworthy of a dinner party. I have asked that you not use that name. You have declined. After reflection, I must insist that you cease and desist from using that newly coined name.

    (I am referring to the AIDE acronym of graduated pressure of “ask-insist-demand-enforce.”)

    I am flagging my own comment to bring it to the attention of the moderators.

    Dude. 

    • #44
  15. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):
    the two most popular Republican Governors, Hogan of Maryland and Baker of Massachusetts are strong Trump skeptics. Then again, I think that their legislatures may have a veto proof majority, meaning that those Republicans have been elected for their management skills.

    True.  Mr Baker does not have a conservative bone in his body, but like Mr Romney and the several other Repub governors we have had in my 29 years as a Mass resident, they have acted to keep the solidly-Dem legislatures from going completely nuts.

    • #45
  16. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    FWIW, there are no statewide races in North Carolina this year. But if the rumors I hear are true, 2020 will one big cluster of candidates running for Governor in 2020 and nobody running for what might be an open Senate seat. But early days.

    • #46
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