Republican Governors Rebel Against Trump’s Petty “Tit-For-Tat” Ways

Republican Governors Rebel Against Trump’s Petty “Tit-For-Tat” Ways

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President Donald Trump has frequently claimed credit for the few GOP wins that occurred during the 2018 midterm election while blaming the Republican Party for the losses, but Republican governors recognize that the biggest reason why their party suffered such a defeat to Democrats is because of Trump.

Republicans not only lost control of the House after a historic 40-seat pick-up by the Democrats on Election Day this year, but they also lost control of several statehouses and many key governorships, including in Michigan and Wisconsin. Republicans even lost in Kansas, where fervent Trump ally Kris Kobach lost to his Democratic opponent.

Yet, Trump refused to accept any responsibility for the massive defeat. The fault for the success of the blue wave, Trump contends, is on Republicans. He even criticized them one by one during a post-election press conference for not lavishing him with praise, arguing that not doing so is what cost them their races.

Most people know better, of course.

After all, many of Trump most fervent allies lost, including Scott Walker in Wisconsin and the aforementioned Kobach in the red state of Kansas. Democrats also won stunning victories in Virginia, Utah, Arizona, and Texas, and even beat Republicans in the redder parts of California. Many of those Republicans had also been Trump supporters.

But the party lost women voters and minority voters as a wave of energized Democratic voters flocked to the polls to put Democrats in charge of the House to act as a check on Trump’s power.

Republicans could have easily lost the Senate as well had different seats been up for grabs. The quest to take back the Senate was an uphill battle for Democrats this year just as it had been for Republicans in 2010 because they had more seats to defend in tough races than they had opportunities to flip others. 2020 could be a different story.

And that’s why many Republican governors are facing up to reality at the Republican Governors Association’s annual winter meeting this year.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan told Politico that problems Republicans had before Trump took office only got worse after he took office.

“The Republican Party started to have problems before Trump ever arrived on the scene two years ago,” he said. “Trump has exacerbated some of those issues and put a focus on them. But the party’s got to take a hard look at itself. If you’re going to be a majority party you’ve got to appeal to a majority of people. I’m hopeful that it can get better, but I’m concerned that it could get worse. And that’s really a debate within the party to say, ‘What are we about? What are we going to focus on?'”

Indeed, the GOP tent has gotten smaller and smaller as women and minorities continue to jump ship. And even many moderate Republicans, including prominent moderates such as George Will and Steve Schmidt, have left the party because of Trump.

Trump’s pettiness and cruelty was a major factor in the Republican defeat, and yet he continued being petty by attacking conservatives such as Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah.).

“I think it was just bad to throw her under the bus,” Utah Governor Greg Herbert said. “She’s the first African American woman Republican elected to Congress in American history, and we’re proud of that. And she was doing some good things. There’s no need to be petty about it, and that’s part of the challenge we have with this administration. Sometimes they seem to have a tit-for-tat and are petty.”

It’s not just “sometimes,” but all the time. And Americans are clearly sick of it. But Republicans have yet to actually do anything about it, which is also a problem.

Republicans would have been better off standing up to Trump and telling him to focus on talking about the economy instead of launching petty attacks at every turn.

“I’ve said many times that I think most voters are pretty pragmatic and what they want to see is results and performance,” Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker observed. “I don’t know why some of the federal folks didn’t talk about the economy. We sure did because we have a good story to tell.”

Even Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Lee rejected Trump’s divisiveness to run a positive campaign void of personal attacks on his opponent, a strategy that worked and one that Lee hopes other Republicans will copy.

“The rhetoric in politics has become divisive in a lot of ways, and I’m hopeful that at least in Tennessee we can take that non-divisive campaign approach and move it into a governing approach,” he said. “I’m hopeful that’s a model for others.”

As the nation moves toward 2020 and Trump becomes more and more of a political liability, Republicans face a choice. They can either reject him and appeal to more voters, or they can embrace him more and watch their party shrink into oblivion. Because when your party is made up of just your dwindling extreme base, you can bet on losing elections in even the reddest states.

The 2020 Election could make the blue wave in 2018 look like a mere ripple if Republicans don’t change. And that change has to start by recognizing that their main problem is Donald Trump.

 

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