Sunday, November 19, 2017

If You're a Republican Governor, You'd Be a Fool To Ignore the Early Warnings

"Are you ready for more Trump in 2018,"
VP Mike Pence asks Republican governors
gathered in Austin
The very recent gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey, not to mention the revolt of Republican suburbs everywhere, seems to have caught the attention of members of the Republican Governors Association. Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns published leaked behind-the-scenes info from the recent meeting of the guvs in Austin, and it makes for fun reading.

But first, some hard facts. In 2018, these are the states with retiring or term-limited incumbent Republican governors. In other words, these will be open seats:
New Mexico
South Dakota
In 2018, these states have Republican incumbents who are eligible for re-election (and coincidentally, just as eligible for defeat):
New Hampshire
South Carolina
By my count that's some 26 governorships the Republicans have to run for with their president under water with the public. Hence, the big question in Austin among the state executives, according to Martin and Burns -- "Do we Trump, or do we not Trump?"

"A sense of foreboding hung over the group’s gathering" as governors contemplated having that punctured parade float into their states to campaign for them or for their anointed replacements. Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee says no definitely not (and he might have added, "I told you so," because he didn't vote for Trump last fall): “I do think Virginia was a wake-up call. There’s a pretty strong message there. When Republicans lose white married women, that’s a strong message.”

An unspecified but apparently significant number of Republican governors "from agricultural and auto-producing states" warned that Trump's bombing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could/would hurt Republican chances in their states.

Another smart warning, based on the dismal failure of Republican Ed Gillespie in Virginia: You can't (as in cannot) embrace Trump’s divisive messages on immigration, crime, and Confederate “heritage” but dance around whether you actually support Trump. Trumpism without Trump does not work.

“You can’t be halfway in and halfway out,” said Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi.

Gov. Haslam: “If you try to wear somebody else’s clothes, they never fit."

Gov. Paul LePage, the wannabe Donald Trump of Maine and a fierce supporter of the prez, was one of the few governors who would say publicly that Republicans should “absolutely” stump with the president in 2018. “He is the leader of our country. He is the leader of our country, and we should respect our leader.”

Vice President Mike Pence came down to Austin to represent Trump and pump up support for him. He got "restrained applause from a lobbyist-heavy audience." Later, "he used a private meeting with the governors on Wednesday to tell them that the White House stood ready to help their campaigns, according to Republican officials who were in the room and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal private conversations."

Gee, thanks. But on second thought, no thanks.

Gov. Gary Hogan of Maryland and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin "candidly told Mr. Pence that they hoped the administration would prove collaborative and respect the wishes of governors who want Mr. Trump to stay away."

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