Sunday, May 20, 2018
Politics

DeWitt: In the Republican Party, the antiestablishment has become the establishment

Yet another disappointing but unsurprising reaction — or, in this case, nonreaction — from Republican leaders:

As Times political editor Adam C. Smith reported last week, neither Gov. Rick Scott nor our own Blaise Ingoglia, condemned Donald Trump's call to temporarily ban Muslim immigration.

In one way, Ingoglia's failure to join many other state Republican leaders and say the obvious, that such a ban would be unconstitutional and bigoted, is almost as outrageous as the statement itself.

In another way, what else would a self-interested politician do? Look at the results of the most recent New York Times/CBS News poll, and not just the widely reported fact that it showed Trump expanding his lead over his party's rivals, now with the support of 35 percent of likely Republican voters.

Almost as alarming, Sen. Ted Cruz, the preferred candidate of 16 percent of the voters, is in second place and rising fast. Ben Carson, though fading, still has the support of 13 percent of the voters.

You don't need advanced math to figure out that the combined backing of these three "antiestablishment" candidates adds up to a solid majority of Republican voters. In fact, it's almost two-thirds.

The math as applied to supposedly mainstream candidacies is just as clear, showing an inverse correlation between popularity and appropriate alarm with Trump. Jeb Bush, for example, responded to Trump's statement by calling him "unhinged" and is polling at a dismal 3 percent.

A couple of things to mention. The poll was taken before Trump made his statements about Muslims and, of course, before Tuesday's debate. And neither Cruz nor Carson directly supported his call for a ban.

But the source of Trump's popularity, the poll showed, is his hard-line stance on terror, and a more recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found that a majority of Republicans support his outlandish plan.

As for the two other candidates who just as easily could be called unhinged, Cruz, post-ban proposal, applauded Trump for staying focused on securing America's borders and talked inanely about "carpet bombing" ISIS. One of Carson's earlier statements would, in less crazy times, stand out as a jaw-dropping admission of prejudice. A Muslim just plain shouldn't be president, he said.

That they are all vying for the same slice of Republican voters is hardly shocking. It's a huge slice.

And, so, it's hardly shocking that Ingoglia, a Republican state representative from Spring Hill and the chairman of the state party, hasn't uttered a critical word about Trump's latest outrage.

This is true even though Ingoglia has made a dramatic move into the party establishment.

He long ago dumped the open-collared shirts, gold chains and antigovernment bombast that got him noticed.

More recently, he seems to have listened to people in the party who thought he already had enough titles next to his name and dropped his rumored push to become House speaker.

His ability to draw 14 presidential candidates to the party's Sunshine Summit last month, according to Republican-friendly bloggers, was a major feat of unification.

Being the leader of the state party, and an apparently effective one, pretty much defines him as establishment.

But, judging from their support from Republican voters, so are the candidates whom we used to think of as on the fringe.

Contact Dan DeWitt at [email protected]; follow @ddewitttimes.

Comments
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Updated: 9 hours ago
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after ...
Published: 05/17/18
GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

WASHINGTON — Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as Thursday after the Senate intelligence committee endorsed President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency. But opponents concerned about Haspel’s ...
Published: 05/16/18
Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

WASHINGTON - The Senate Intelligence Committee moved Wednesday to recommend Gina Haspel for CIA director, setting up a floor vote that her opponents say will signal to the world whether the United States condemns or condones torture.The committee vot...
Published: 05/16/18
Carlton: Time for Hillsborough’s Uncle Tom Road to go — but artfully.

Carlton: Time for Hillsborough’s Uncle Tom Road to go — but artfully.

In Hillsborough County — where one of the world’s largest Confederate flags still flies near a busy interstate — you may not be surprised to learn there’s an Uncle Tom Road.The name is a flash point and a slur, shorthand for a black person who will d...
Published: 05/16/18
Clearwater Vice Mayor Doreen Caudell drops out of Pinellas Commission race

Clearwater Vice Mayor Doreen Caudell drops out of Pinellas Commission race

With six months to go before the Nov. 6 election, Clearwater Vice Mayor Doreen Caudell on Monday dropped her bid against Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard for the at-large District 2 seat.Caudell said she decided she’d better be better suited f...
Published: 05/14/18
Romano: Hey Gov. Scott, could you hire me, too?

Romano: Hey Gov. Scott, could you hire me, too?

To: The Honorable Gov. Rick ScottDear Governor,It has come to my attention that your administration has recently made some, dare I say, innovative hires for important government positions in the months before you leave office.At the risk of sounding ...
Published: 05/14/18