[guest post by Dana]
This caught my eye. It’s from a piece about Gov. DeSantis of Florida and the most politically potent path past Trump:
Smart Democrats know their present majority is fragile indeed. Smart Democrats know that the 2020 results were both encouraging (they won, after all) and sobering. The polls promised a greater victory than Biden won, they almost lost the House, and they likely would have lost the Senate but for Trump’s deranged post-election crusade. Smart Democrats know that if Biden stumbles, the GOP’s path to the White House is broad and wide.
At the same time, smart Republicans know that they have their own profound problems. How do you hold an angry base while recapturing suburbanites who were repulsed by the incompetence and corruption of the Trump administration? Perhaps by governing well and fighting hard for a righteous cause. If that’s the playbook, then DeSantis has an early edge—and he’s gained that edge almost entirely on his own, without the meaningful assistance of the GOP leader he may well replace.
Meanwhile, I see that candidates (at least some) are cutting the ties with Trump from the get-go. Michael Wood is running for Congress in a very crowded field for the May 1 special election in Texas. He was just endorsed by the Dallas Morning News, and by Rep. Adam Kinzinger:
My name is Michael Wood. I'm a conservative Republican running for #TX06 in the special election on May 1. I'm in this race to #RestoreOurGOP and I'm asking for your vote.#MichaelWoodforCongress pic.twitter.com/zlCLkngayU
— Michael Wood for Congress (@michaelwoodtx) April 5, 2021
I also believe that it’s time for the Republican Party to move past Donald Trump. If we continue to put his interests above our own, we will lose to Democrats for a generation. Like many of you when faced with an increasingly radicalized Democratic Party, I voted for Donald Trump in 2020. However, his actions since election day have forfeited his right to ever lead my party again. We are not the party of conspiracy theories and Q’Anon. We can be again the party of ideas.
And from his campaign website:
The Republican Party has lost its way and now is the time to fight for its renewal. We were once a party of ideas, but we have devolved into a cult of personality. This must end, and Texas must lead the way.
I’m also linking to an interview he did today with an exasperated pro-Trump Mark Davis. Wood, however, held his own rather nicely.
On the flip-side, Marco Rubio was just endorsed by Donald Trump this morning in his reelection bid in Florida:
“It is my honor to give U.S. Senator Marco Rubio my Complete and Total Endorsement,” Trump said in a statement. “Marco has been a tireless advocate for the people of Florida, fighting to cut taxes, supporting our Second Amendment, our Military and our Vets, a strong national defense, and all of the forgotten men and women of America.”
Both Rubio and Trump are expected to appear at the Republican National Committee’s spring donor retreat in Palm Beach, Fla., over the weekend.
This is unsurprising for the two peas in a pod:
And as is often the case with the former president, Trump’s support apparently owed in significant part to that Republican having said things about Trump that Trump liked.
After praising Rubio as a champion for his constituents, Trump added, “He also ruled that ‘President Trump was in no way involved with Russia,’ as he presided over the Senate Intelligence Committee on the FAKE Russia, Russia, Russia Hoax.”
This is, to put it gently, a highly oversimplified and misleading review of what the Senate Intelligence Committee report actually found. But it is also one that Rubio played into and has now benefited from, with his campaign pushing out Trump’s endorsement statement.
Republicans will be pressed to make a choice as they make their bids for reelection: cut the ties with Trump and move past the cult of personality, or seek his endorsement (signifying his continuing power and influence over the Republican Party) and maintain the status quo.