Democratic mid-term bonus: Republican endorsements

Democratic candidates up and down the ballot in this year’s mid-term election campaign are discovering the added bonus of Republican endorsements to add to favorable polling numbers. The candidates for governor of Florida will be decided on August 28, however, former Democratic U.S. Representative Gwen Graham, the daughter of former governor and senator Bob Graham, is leading in polls.

A number of Republican politicians in the Sunshine State who were associated with John McCain’s 2000 and 2008 presidential campaigns are endorsing Gwen Graham for governor, eschewing the two leading Republican candidates. Graham campaign insiders cite as one of the reasons for the endorsements the long-lasting Senate friendship between Bob Graham and John McCain and the public comments that Trump has made about McCain, who is being treated for brain cancer in Arizona. The McCain camp endorsements are seen as beneficial to Graham among Florida’s large retired military community.

Even some Republicans associated with former Republican governor Jeb Bush are lining up with Graham. These include former Republican U.S. Representative David Jolly, a former general counsel to GOP Representative Bill Young, the longest-serving Republican member of the U.S. House at the time of his death in 2013.

Gubernatorial candidate Graham has been buoyed in her primary race after it was disclosed that one of her opponents, billionaire Jeff Greene, is not only a member of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, but also has been featured in television interviews saying that he knows Trump and believes he is a “great guy.”

The campaign of Graham’s other opponent, Miami Beach mayor Phil Levine, has been rocked by revelations that his campaign involves Adam Goodman, a past vocal supporter of Trump on Fox News. Trump’s political brand in Florida has been tarnished by several factors, including his and the Republican Party’s threats against Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans’ health benefits. The likely Republican candidate for governor, U.S. Representative Ron DeSantis, has hitched his political wagon to Trump, a factor that will likely cost him the governor’s mansion in November.

Republicans are also unpopular because of the red tide affecting Florida’s coastal waters. Largely added to by fertilizer run-off from large sugar plantations bordering the Everglades, the red tide, which has caused a mass kill of fish and marine mammals, has focused voters’ wrath on an industry that donates generously to the Republicans. This issue has also affected the U.S. Senate race which pits Democratic Senator Bill Nelson against GOP Governor Rick Scott. The rejection by Scott of Obamacare or expanded Medicaid has cost the governor support among Florida’s senior community.

The other factor that is playing into Republican woes is the presence of hurricane-displaced Puerto Ricans, who mostly live in temporary housing or with relatives in central Florida, particularly around Orlando. Graham’s campaign is busy registering these Puerto Ricans to vote in the primary and in November. The Puerto Ricans know that there is one person to blame for the distressed post-hurricane situation in Puerto Rico: Trump.

Other states’ mid-term election campaigns have seen GOP endorsements of Democratic candidates. The most prominent of these is in Tennessee, where outgoing Republican Senator Bob Corker made what has been termed a “non-endorsement endorsement” of former Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen for the U.S. Senate seat that Corker is vacating. Corker is not thrilled with the GOP candidate, Representative Marsha Blackburn, who has been endorsed by Trump.

Another “non-endorsement endorsement” of a Democrat came in North Dakota. Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp, who is battling Republican Kevin Cramer to retain her Senate seat, was buoyed by the refusal of the Koch Brothers-financed political action committee, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), to back Cramer. Moreover, Americans for Prosperity had kind words for Heitkamp. Trump appeared at a North Dakota campaign rally in support of Cramer. AFP also declined to support Nevada Republican Senator Dean Heller and Indiana GOP candidate Mike Braun in their senate campaigns. Both races are seen as critical for the GOP’s continued control of the U.S. Senate.

While Trump’s backing has helped Republicans win their primary races in various states, his endorsement in the general election is viewed as toxic by many political observers who are seeing increasing signs of a Democratic “blue tsunami” in November.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

Copyright © 2018

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).

Comments are closed.