OPINON: The Executive Endorsement.
The Republican Party, struggling to maintain its unity, saw three more engaging primaries this week in the states of Arizona, Florida, and Oklahoma. While the GOP has put up many strong candidates in the face of this division, many of the winners share one quality – what I call the ‘executive endorsement’.
The executive endorsement, a peculiar term, essentially means: whoever the President or Vice President endorses. We saw this in South Carolina, when literally hours before election night was over, President Trump endorsed newcomer Katie Arrington over incumbent Mark Sanford, leaving Arrington with 50% of the vote to Sanford’s 46%. We saw this in Missouri with Josh Hawley, who wound up with the endorsements of President Trump and VP Pence, and ended up getting nearly 60% of the vote against 9 other contenders. We saw this in Michigan with John James, who ended up with 54% to the establishment candidate’s 46%.
These are just the cases before last night’s primary. Ron DeSantis, a former Never Trumper who earned the Trump endorsement, handily won Florida’s gubernatorial primary. The same can be said for McSally in Arizona, who won her primary against two “anti-establishment” candidates after earning the endorsement of VP Pence.
This is how the executive endorsement has had a positive effect on the endorsee. Since Trump came along, his endorsement seems almost as a signal that the particular candidate is a shoe-in. What does this mean for the party?
I work on the campaign trail. I’ve worked in primaries, generals, etc. Since Trump came along, the #1 question about a candidate when talking to voters is, “Does blank support Trump?” The number of Republican voters that take the President’s word to heart as a blanket statement for supporting a certain candidate is astounding. The allegiance to the President, while not necessarily good or bad, is a great indicator of where the party is right now.
The Republican Party has become the party of Trump. With 88% of GOP members approving the job he has done, it becomes apparent that his popularity continues to grow amongst Republicans.
With many of this year’s primaries over, and Trump’s first midterm approaching, we’ll see how the executive endorsement holds up against the up and coming “blue wave”.
Jonathan Lammey is a Lead Contributor.