Trump nom­i­na­tion may crip­ple down-ticket Repub­li­cans

New York bil­lion­aire rul­ing con­ver­sa­tion

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

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.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

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