On Saturday, Maggie Haberman of The New York Times profiled how President Donald Trump is having less luck whipping Republican governors into line than Republican senators, including governors who arguably owe their election to his support.
“In Florida, Mr. Trump’s aides helped save the flailing candidacy of Ron DeSantis in the 2018 Republican primary, and then the general election,” wrote Haberman. “Also last year, in Georgia, Mr. Trump helped pull Brian Kemp over the finish line in both the primary and the general election. In both cases, Mr. Trump’s advisers implored him to stay out of the primaries, and he agreed to — only to surprise his aides by jumping in to support Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Kemp.”
But while both candidates have governed as right-wing hardliners, they have largely avoided unnecessary interaction with Trump and have at times even clashed with him. DeSantis has told reporters he will not have a great deal of time to spend campaigning for the president in 2020, and even ordered Trump’s campaign to fire a Florida strategist he viewed as disloyal. Kemp, meanwhile, caused a stir by openly defying Trump’s order to appoint anti-impeachment ally Rep. Doug Collins to the vacant Senate seat left by Johnny Isakson, instead appointing businesswoman Kelly Loeffler, which led to a circular firing squad between Georgia Republicans and Trump allies.
“Senior Republicans acknowledge that Mr. Trump still doesn’t understand the nuances between the types of races run by governors, who have to tend to voters back home, and senators and representatives, who must survive in Washington and have a different political balancing act,” wrote Haberman, noting that the president campaigned extensively for Gov. Matt Bevin (R-KY) and Louisiana businessman and gubernatorial nominee Eddie Rispone, only for both to lose.
However strong Trump’s grip on the Republican Party, GOP governors have their own incentives — and those do not necessarily inspire them to follow the president’s marching orders.
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