As Republican party insiders mount a desperate effort to derail the presidential campaign of billionaire Donald Trump, many of the party’s 31 state governors are staying out of the fray.
When New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez steps onto a Kansas stage on Friday to endorse Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio, she will be only the 10th governor to back one of the four candidates remaining in a nominating contest that could define the party for years to come.
That is a sharp contrast to previous elections, when governors lined up solidly behind the party’s eventual nominee, helping to winnow the field of candidates early on.
Perplexed by the chaotic race, many governors are keeping a low profile to avoid a possible backlash from voters who are increasingly contemptuous of party leaders, Republican officials say.
This is just one more supposed strength that seems to have been neutralized by the Republican Party’s trip through the looking glass for this primary. The preponderance of Republican governors in America was going to provide us with either a great candidate or a machine to get the eventual nominee elected. The fact that John Kasich is the only governor remaining in the race shows what an unmitigated failure Option One was.
The governors may very well end up fully supporting the eventual nominee, but their reluctance to get involved at this stage just lends credence to the “GOP is a mess” narrative at the moment. The longer the media gets to write things like that, the more difficult it is to pull in some undecided voters in the general election, no matter who the nominee is.
Another thing to consider is the fact that the Republican governors have been considered the cornerstone of the party’s strength for several years. Even when Congress is sinking to new lows in approval ratings, the GOP governors keep winning elections and seeming to get more popular. Given that, if they’re skittish about jumping into the spotlight for this primary, maybe it’s even worse than many of us think.