Now that the Republican party is captive to President Trump, it’s inevitable that GOP candidates decide not only to support the president but to be as much like him as possible. This election cycle has seen an outbreak of Trumpiness among would-be elected officials at every level.
The race-baiting, divisiveness and general boorishness that Trump brings to the White House is now the template that other candidates are using to appeal to the Republican base. That’s especially true of candidates seeking to win an office for the first time. (There are plenty of mini-Trumps running for re-election.) Here’s just a sampling of candidates who portend a Trumpish GOP for years into the future.
Antonio Sabato Jr.
Sabato is a D-list actor and former underwear model who passes for an A-list celebrity in the Trump world. He’s making a futile run for Congress against Rep. Julia Brownley in a district that is solidly Democratic.
Instead of appealing to the district constituency, Sabato has gone in the opposite direction. He’s joined Trump in attacking Rep. Maxine Waters, whom Trump has assailed as “low I.Q.” Sabato has done Trump one better, however. He wants Waters jailed for being, well, a Democrat, or in his words, a “hustler of hate.” “She should be put behind bars and throw away the key,” Sabato said.
Sabato is like Trump in another way: he recently announced that he could “have sex all day” as a result of testosterone pellets injected in his butt.
Kemp is running for governor of Georgia against Stacey Abrams. The contrast between the two couldn’t be more stark: Abrams is black and an unapologetic progressive. Kemp won the GOP primary by running ads touting his profile as a “politically incorrect conservative.”
In one commercial, he pointed a rifle at a young man courting his daughter and boasted about having a big truck “in case I need to round up some illegals.” In another, Kemp appealed to voters because “I say Merry Christmas and God bless you.” Kemp has said he favors a religious liberty bill permitting anti-LGBTQ discrimination, a stand that makes state businesses jittery at the prospect of a boycott.
Stewart is the GOP nominee for the Senate in Virginia and pretty much guaranteed to lose his race to incumbent Tim Kaine. Stewart has staked his reputation on being a defender of Confederate monuments, and he has a nasty habit of hanging around with and endorsing white supremacists.
Stewart also courted the support of Public Advocate, an anti-LGBTQ hate group. No surprise there: Stewart has his own crackpot theories, including the belief that teaching students about LGBTQ history means that “sodomy is now a mandatory course.”
Cramer is shares many of Stewart’s worst traits, but unfortunately he’s heavily favored to win his Senate race in North Dakota against Heidi Heitkamp. (Cramer has already won statewide office as the state’s lone House representative.)
Like Stewart, Cramer courted the support of Public Advocate, which is in keeping with his doubts about the existence of LGBTQ workplace discrimination. Cramer has virtually tied himself to Trump’s coattails, which has caused him some grief. North Dakota farmers are hit hard by Trump’s tariff policy.
DeSantis is locked in a tight race for Florida governor with Democrat Andrew Gillum and somehow can’t stop make comments that sound like racial dog whistles. (Gillum is black.) DeSantis has also appeared at events with ties to white supremacists, hardly a surprise in the Trump era.
As a Congressman, DeSantis was one of Trump’s biggest boosters and once ran an ad in which he talked about teaching his young children the virtues of Trump’s values. DeSantis is finding that being too much like Trump may not be a blessing; more recently he’s been distancing himself from the president out of fear of losing votes.
Wilson is only a candidate for Arizona state legislature, but he may have out-Trumped Trump. Wilson is a hard-core gun rights advocate, who says his views were shaped by an incident at age 18 when he shot and killed someone “hell-bent on killing me.” The assailant: his own mother.
You have to hand it to Wilson. While Trump has suggested that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and his followers wouldn’t care, he never proposed killing his mom.