If Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president (that’s right, I said, if), Republicans can kiss their majority in the US Senate good-bye and they will see a serious challenge to their majority in the US House.
Members of the GOP currently serving in elective office fall into three categories: 1) Those running as fast as they can away from Trump (think Maine’s Susan Collins and South Carolina’s Lindsay Graham); 2) Those who don’t care what the political fallout from supporting Trump will be (hello, Christie and Ben Carson); and 3) Those who want it both ways. Those in No. 1 are smart, in No. 2 are irrelevant, and in No. 3 are those likely to lose their seats and have their careers ruined.
Let’s concentrate on the No. 3s. House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, New Hampshire US Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Pennsylvania US Sen. Pat Toomey, Ohio US Sen. Rob Portman, Wisconsin US Sen. Ron Johnson. If the aforementioned senators lose their respective seats, Republicans lose their Senate majority. Not only is it possible, it’s even probable with Trump at the top of the ticket.
Simply put, one wonders how these United States senators sleep at night. With varying degrees of “he’s a racist but he’s our racist,” these vulnerable members of the world’s most exclusive club want to distance themselves from Trump but not abandon him.
Perhaps Ayotte has been the worst of trying to have it every possible way. On President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, Ayotte says she’ll meet with him but is against giving him a hearing. Huh? She wants Trump to retract his remarks about the Indiana-born judge’s Mexican heritage. She’ll still vote for him, but won’t endorse him. She won’t go to this summer’s GOP convention. Dizzy yet?
Speaker Ryan says what Trump said about Judge Gonzalo Curiel is “the textbook definition of a racist comment.” He doesn’t like Trump’s views on immigration, on the proposed Muslim ban, or his foreign policy (including the businessman’s seeming acquiescence to a nuclear South Korea and Japan). But Ryan is still supporting him. The Speaker is walking in the middle of the Trump highway and could very well get squished.
So what happens in November if Trump is the nominee? Ayotte loses to the sitting Democratic governor of New Hampshire Maggie Hassan. Toomey loses to environmental policy expert Katie McGinty. Portman loses to former Democratic Governor Ted Strickland. Johnson loses to former US Senator and liberal darling Russ Feingold. Add in Illinois Republican US Sen. Paul Kirk losing to Democratic US Rep. and war hero Tammi Duckworth and the Republicans are toast in the US Senate.
Back to my qualifier in the lead. I still think Donald Trump could get booted at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in mid-July. I just don’t see how sane Republicans can let this guy bring down their party. It would mean unrest unseen since 1968. Riots, mayhem, chair-throwing, general chaos. But if they can manipulate the convention rules to pick anyone other than Trump, that person may be in for an epic beating but at least their party won’t go out of business.
With Trump? Good night, my dear Republicans.