Trump nomination may cripple down-ticket Republicans
New York billionaire ruling conversation
Donald Trump has not only shaken up the GOP’s presidential contest, he was also a dominant theme for congressional Republicans back home in their states and districts this summer, where many of the lawmakers took pains to show respect for him.
Still, the Trump campaign has yet to report any congressional endorsements — not that it even seems to be seeking them — and some pundits are already warning that Mr. Trump at the top of the GOP ticket will be deadly to the prospects of some of the down-ticket candidates.
Jon Ralston, a Nevada political columnist, said Mr. Trump’s campaign is “threatening” the chances of Rep. Joseph J. Heck, Republicans’ best hope to capture that state’s open Senate seat next year. Democrats eagerly tout other calculations that Mr. Trump could jeopardize Republican efforts to capture a Senate seat in Colorado and hold onto one in Florida.
But it was hard to deny the billionaire businessman’s effect on the conversation.
“He’s saying the things that a majority of Americans have been thinking and wish somebody was saying,” Rep. Louie Gohmert, Texas Republican, told the Cherokee Rose Republican Women’s August meeting, according to The Gilmer Mirror.
As Mr. Gohmert and his fellow Republicans fanned out across the country this summer, Mr. Trump was one of the hottest topics, with constituents demanding to know how their elected representatives in Washington viewed the man who has shaken the GOP to its core, exposed deep rifts over immigration and given voice to voters disenchanted with what they see as an establishment too willing to engage in politics as usual in Washington.
“When I walk down the street and go to a bagel shop, diner, ball game, the first question people ask me is, ‘What do you think of Donald Trump? He’s the only guy that’s saying what we believe,’” Rep. Peter T. King, a New York Republican who had flirted with his own presidential bid, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “So he’s definitely tapped into a nerve throughout, so I’m not surprised to see the numbers now. Did I predict this? Not at all.”
Opinions on Mr. Trump are seriously divided among Republican officeholders meeting with constituents.
Rep. Roger Williams, Texas Republican, told a town hall he’s “a serious candidate” who’s raising important issues, according to the Burleson Star.
But Rep. Tim Huelskamp, Kansas Republican, was “critical” of Mr. Trump, according to The Hutchinson News. “This is not a reality show. This is the real thing,” he said, according to the paper.
And Rep. Blake Farenthold, another Texas Republican, was wondering whether Mr. Trump’s bold tongue would land the GOP in trouble.
“As a Republican, I’m very much afraid he’s going to put his foot in his mouth and choke on it,” the congressman told a town hall meeting, according to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
Regardless of how they feel, however, Mr. Trump has tapped into a deep vein within the GOP that appreciates his candor — and particularly on immigration.
Mr. Trump has proposed building more fencing on the southwest border, tripling the number of interior agents to boost deportations and to go after businesses that cheat the law, ending birthright citizenship for children of illegal immigrants and requiring all illegal immigrants to go home before applying to come back under color of law.
Those stances have now become litmus tests voters are looking at when vetting their own members of Congress.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump continues to lead the pack of GOP 2016 hopefuls despite not, as of yet, picking up a single endorsement from any Republicans currently serving in Congress.