Defect from Donald Trump, that is. And a lot of other Republican elected officials are hinting that they will be next.
You can see why it’s tempting for Republicans to join the #NeverTrump team. It’s a way to insulate yourself from constant questions from the media about every single controversial thing your presidential nominee says. “I have said I’m not for Donald Trump,” is a nice conversation-ender for an embattled pol. But Democrats intent on leveraging Trump’s unpopularity to take back the Senate and possibly even the House say that won’t stop them from making the connection between Trump and those who share his party affiliation.
It’s a very touch choice for many Republicans. Here’s our look at the 10 GOP politicians who seem most likely to take the leap off the Trump train.
It’s difficult to pick from the dozens and dozens of Republican lawmakers uncomfortably supporting their presidential nominee. Here are a few whose struggles have been most public.
1. Mike Bishop: The Michigan freshman reluctantly endorsed Trump when it became clear Trump was the only candidate left in the race to endorse. But a month later, top Republican leaders were calling Trump’s criticism of Judge Gonzalo Curiel “racist,” and Bishop was saying this to the Detroit News: “A lot of folks aren’t comfortable with it, I’m not comfortable with it.”
2. Don Young: Right now, the Alaska congressman belongs to two different camps on Trump: The “anyone-but-Clinton” camp and the camp that’s vocal in its disdain for Trump, writes the New York Times’s Jennifer Steinhauer. (If the latter were actually a club, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham would totally be its president.) Young seems like a potential full-time member, too: “I don’t listen to him and never have,” Young told Steinhauer. “I may vote for myself.”
3. Adam Kinzinger: Trump’s Muslim ban is a no-go for the Illinois representative, a leading House GOP voice on national security issues. He told The Post’s Sean Sullivan and Mike DeBonis this week:“I guess I appreciate Mr. Trump’s fieriness in talking about it, but you don’t do it by alienating the very people that we need, and those are moderate Muslims.”
4. Duncan Hunter: His inclusion on this list would have come as a surprise just a few days ago: Hunter has actually been among Trump’s top defenders in the House. But after Trump’s suggestion that members of the military might have embezzled money in Iraq, it appears that’s a role Hunter no longer wants to play. “Everybody’s asking me to explain all these things that he said,” Hunter said. “Some of these things, I don’t know what Donald Trump is thinking. … I don’t know where Donald Trump is coming from.”
Earlier this month, Sen. Mark Kirk became the first GOP senator to rescind his endorsement of Trump, joining his colleague Ben Sasse of Nebraska in the “Never Trump” camp. Here’s who might be next:
5. Susan Collins: The moderate Republican from Maine recently told the New Yorker that, it’s unlikely, but she might vote for Clinton — a rare phenomenon in modern politics.
6. Sen. Dan Coats: Another perennial Trump dodger, the retiring Indiana senator is one of many GOPers who have been forced to give statement after statement after statement condemning one of Trump’s statements. And he seems increasingly exasperated about it. Coats has struggled to say whether he trusts Trump with the nuclear codes and to name one policy position he and Trump agree on. Coats, for what it’s worth, did tell the New York Times he’s not okay with changing the GOP convention rules to undermine Trump.
7. Pat Toomey: There’s no denying Trump is putting a lot of vulnerable Republican senators in some very awkward situations, Toomey included. Of late, the Pennsylvania senator has been among the chamber’s most effective dodgers of Trump question. A month ago, he wrote in a philly.com op-ed saying he’s reserving his judgment of Trump, objecting to the nominee’s vulgarity in particular. Since then, Trump’s said a lot we can presume Toomey doesn’t like, and the senator has literally been dodging reporters in Washington to avoid talking about it.
Moderate Latino governors, conservative Southern governors, Rust Belt governors. There’s no one-size-fits-all profile for a governor who is resistant to Trump. For now, the list of those who have said no-thanks to Trump is made up of Maryland’s Hogan, Massachusetts’s Charlie Baker and Michigan’s Rick Snyder. Going forward, it could potentially include these governors:
8. John Kasich: Trump’s former primary opponent and the governor of Ohio recently compared his relationship with Trump to a divorce. “It’s painful,” he told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday. ” …I’m not making any final decision yet, but at this point, I just can’t do it.”
9. Brian Sandoval: In May, the Nevada governor said he’d support Trump because supporting Clinton was “simply not an option.” But a few bouts between Trump and a federal judge later, Sandoval is saying something very different. He recently put out a statement saying he has major concerns with Trump’s “escalating tone and rhetoric.” (Sandoval himself was a federal judge who, like Curiel, is of Hispanic descent.)
10. Susana Martinez: The popular Latina governor of New Mexico and head of Republican Governors Association had tried to keep her head down in this whole Trump drama. It was working — until Trump came to her backyard and dragged her into it, accusing her of not doing her job. Martinez’s press office responded by saying she “will not be bullied” into supporting Trump. A few days later, Trump said he wanted Martinez’s endorsement. Crickets from her office so far.