Trump Isn't the Easy Button

AP Photo/Matt Freed

Former President Donald Trump has been the most popular official in the GOP's voting base for some time now. That much can't be denied, and the likelihood of him becoming the GOP nominee for the 2024 presidential election is, as of this writing, incredibly high. 


The reason for a solid chunk of the GOP's voter base supporting Trump is multi-faceted, with reasons ranging from the opinion that he was an incredibly good president to an intense spitefulness against Democrats made worse by the belief that the election was stolen from Trump. No matter the reason, the support for Trump from the many that do is intense. 

This causes many Republican candidates across the country to believe that this intense support for Trump can come to them vicariously if Trump himself endorses them. There is a logic to it, but the brutal truth is that this belief is a major mistake. 

As Bonchie wrote on Wednesday, Kentucky gubernatorial Republican candidate Daniel Cameron lost to Democrat Andy Beshear. Looking at the campaign Cameron ran, we can see the aforementioned mentality of feeling safe when endorsed by Trump: 

Which brings me to Cameron's actual campaign. If you lived in Kentucky, you were bombarded with ads and social media posts that centered on one thing and one thing only: Being endorsed by Donald Trump. In fact, Cameron began his general election campaign by taking a shot at Ron DeSantis, who had endorsed one of his opponents, proclaiming the "Trump culture of winning is alive and well." 

Perhaps it is for Trump himself. Assuming everything remains static in the presidential primary, Republicans are going to re-run that play again in 2024. It's either going to work or it's not. What should be clear to every Republican breathing by now, though, is that other candidates need more than a Trump endorsement to win.


That last sentence is key. 

Cameron, like many GOP candidates who fell short, believed that a Trump endorsement was enough. It's not, and we have a pile of crashed and burning elections behind us to understand that pretty clearly. 

The reason is easy to understand. 

Firstly, while the GOP is largely supportive of Trump's 2024 candidacy, it doesn't mean the entirety of the GOP is. In fact, many elements within the GOP are either waffling on him or have no desire to support him any further than they have to. A Trump endorsement might get you a nice boost, but it's only going to get you a boost with the chunk of Trump supporters in the local area. 

This brings me to the greater point of locality. 

Trump is a national figure. He's not running for office in Kentucky, Ohio, or Pennsylvania. The issues that concern him aren't local, they're national. They're not focused, they're broad and as president, these focuses will sometimes go abroad. Trump is concerned with the national economy, the national crime problem, and the nation's border. He's not hyper-focused on Kentucky's economy, Kentucky's crime, or Kentucky's schools. That's the job of the local politicians. 

Local GOP candidates haven't been focusing on these local issues. They've been getting a Trump endorsement and believing that the endorsement speaks for itself to everyone within voting distance. 


It doesn't. Even if you are a Trump supporter, not making waves about what you can and will do for the local area you run for will keep you hidden from view. 

Cameron's mistake was failing to make it all about Kentucky. Instead, he made it about Trump. This signals that he's more about pleasing Trump than serving Kentucky, and that's just not going to win hearts, minds, and ultimately, votes.  

This goes for every GOP candidate running for office on a more localized level. Get your Trump endorsement. Fine. Just be aware that it's only going to get you so far. For some GOP voters, it might make you more of a divisive figure. 

What's going to carry local GOP candidates is local issues. Sound your positions and your plans out loud and clear. Make your face known by upping your local social media presence with paid advertising, and whenever your face does pop up, make sure it's accompanied by a statement about how you're going to improve matters in your area. Address concerns that matter to your constituency, not Trump's. 

Trump is not the "easy" button. 

Local focus wins local elections. Local focus improves local areas. Local elections remain far more important than national elections. Local people deserve the focus, not national figures. 

This is politics 101, and the GOP needs to remember that going into 2024. Run for the leadership of the office you're gunning for. You're not running to be a member of a national figure's inner circle. 


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