So it’s not really about the people or the states they represent, anymore?
Some are suggesting that President-elect Trump is, in essence, holding potential candidates for the Senate hostage.
We’ve seen how incapable Trump’s fanatics are, when it comes to separating themselves from what he demands, through his wild claims and Twitter rants. It is weaponized lunacy, and likely the reason this is an issue, now.
Trump isn’t demanding that potential Republican Senate candidates and incumbents seek his blessing before running. But GOP leaders, concerned that he could firebomb a sitting senator or top Senate recruit with a critical tweet and blow up their prospects, are urging them to reach out to the new administration to make sure the president-elect is on board with their candidacy. That is especially the case for Republicans who opposed Trump or were perceived to be odds with him during the 2016 presidential campaign.
It’s not unusual to seek the favor of the president before launching a bid for office, or reelection. It’s often helpful to have that endorsement.
What is unusual is this sudden fear of internet trolling, and the age we live in now, where internet rumors, hoaxes, and insults can travel around the world in record time, and often sticks hard.
A typical White House political operation might check in with congressional leaders, and relay concerns about a candidate quietly, allowing any issues about loyalty to the president to be resolved behind closed doors.
But Trump is unconventional. The incoming president hasn’t hesitated to jab at members of his own party, either during a political rally or on social media, especially those that crossed him in the contentious 2016 campaign.
That dynamic is forcing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, the National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman, to take pre-emptive action to protect the incumbents and prized recruits they believe are best positioned to pick off Democrats in the midterm elections.
And there is the fear.
For Republicans, they’ve essentially painted themselves into a corner with Trump. He ran as a Republican, even though the majority of his life in the spotlight was spent supporting liberals and liberal causes.
He behaves, however, as a mercenary, willing to sell off his stated positions to the highest bidder, or at least to who strokes his ego the best.
He has no principles and no party loyalty, so if there is disagreement, it likely won’t be handled as between reasonable adults. He’ll do what he’s always done and attempt to personally ruin anyone over any perceived slight.
Those who opposed Trump during the primaries, such as Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who refused to endorse him during the election are hoping that approving his cabinet picks will give them some leverage.
Flake also is leveraging his strong friendship with Vice President-elect Mike Pence to reset his relationship with the incoming administration. Flake and Pence served in the House together and spoke regularly during the 2016 campaign, even as the senator and Trump argued with each other in public.
“What I’m doing is, I’m supporting [Trump] when I agree,” Flake said. “You assume the best, and look for the good, and move ahead.”
That would seem a good policy, or at least, the mature policy.
Republican sources say they hope favoring Trump from the Senate floor, through votes, will also be enough to mend those broken ties.
As it is, Trump needs to try and maintain some civility with his fellow Republicans, as well. He can’t afford to lose any of his support on the Senate floor.
“It’s 52-48, they’re going to need every vote they have, a normal person wouldn’t come after a Republican,” a senior GOP Senate aide said.
For Republican challengers on the wrong side of Trump, smoothing things over could require a more direct approach, GOP sources say.
In other words, smell the glove. Submit.
That fear of a vengeful, petty Trump was bolstered by Trump’s actions in Ohio’s race for the chairmanship of the state GOP.
Matt Borges, the incumbent, by any measure accomplished his job as Ohio GOP chairman. Trump won the state big and Republicans were successful down ballot. But Borges was an ally of Gov. John Kasich, who never endorsed Trump over Clinton, and Borges was therefore perceived as insufficiently loyal to the president-elect.
Trump called members of the Ohio GOP state central committee and was successful at swaying enough of them to elevate Trump loyalist Jane Timken over Borges. That was the case even though most of the committee was presumed to be loyal to Kasich.
That emphasis is mine.
Borges did his job. He did the work to help Trump get elected, but still, because he was a Kasich ally, Trump went after his job, in order to reward a loyalist.
And while I expect mindless applause for such moves from the Trumpidian cult, every sane person should be watching with a cold knot in the pit of their stomach.