Many establishment Republicans aren’t big fans of Donald Trump, whether it be for personal reasons or because they think he’s electoral poison for their party. Trump-opposed Republicans control a great deal of money—yet it hasn’t materialized to dethrone Trump as the front-runner of the Republican presidential primary, NBC News reports.
Everyone is filled with excuses. They say they’ve tried—the Americans for Prosperity super PAC has spent $11 million. They say that maybe the anti-Trump push will emerge closer to the Iowa caucuses, after a couple of current candidates drop out and opposition to Trump can consolidate around one alternative. But “It’s a totally insignificant amount of money,” according to one Republican strategist. And the reality is, the strategist continued, that “anti-Trumpers, by and large, are not even getting engaged in the Republican primary this year.”
As little as they’ve spent so far (by today’s big-money campaign standards), signs suggest it’s getting worse. Club for Growth auditioned non-Trump candidates at its February donor retreat, but it hasn’t settled on a candidate to endorse. And while its PAC spent $2.5 million in Iowa in August, September spending is a pitiful $5,000. That looks like surrender.
“Where were all these people who were speaking a big game [about stopping Trump] when it came time to put rubber on the road?” an adviser for a non-Trump presidential campaign vented to NBC. “The bare minimum they could have done was make sure he was so damaged that he wasn’t sitting at 50% in the polls. But because they sat on their hands, they’ve essentially ceded the nomination to him, and it’s through inaction.”
These are Republicans. If there’s one thing their party knows, it’s how to drive down an opponent’s support through ugly attack ads. The fact that these anti-Trump Republicans haven’t done that to Trump has the stench of fear. As bad as they know Trump to be for Republican electoral chances, they’re worried that angering him and his supporters could be worse. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was supposed to be their savior, and with his campaign’s belly flop, they are too scared to coalesce around anyone else.
“I honestly think [Trump] is going to win the primary, and the reason [donors are] not coming out is that they’re afraid to touch it with a 10-foot pole,” Shiree Verdone, an Arizona Republican fundraiser who had been “open minded” going into the primary, told NBC News. “How am I asked to put in money toward someone when I don’t think they’re going to win? I need a viable candidate.”
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We did it! And it’s all thanks to Molech! We’re devoting this week’s episode of “The Downballot” to giving praise to the dark god himself after New Hampshire Democrat Hal Rafter won a critical special election over Republican Jim Guzofski, the loony toons pastor who once ranted that liberals make “blood sacrifices to their god Molech.” Democrats are now just one seat away from erasing the GOP’s majority in the state House and should feel good about their chances in the Granite State next year. Republicans, meanwhile, can only stew bitterly that they lack the grassroots fundraising energy provided by Daily Kos, which endorsed Rafter and raised the bulk of his campaign funds via small donations.