Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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 ddewitt@tampabay.com; follow @ddewitttimes.

DeWitt: In the Republican Party, the antiestablishment has become the establishment 12/17/15 [Last modified: Thursday, December 17, 2015 9:56am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Here kitty, kitty ...

    Blogs

    In a toned down version of the annual rookie dress-up day based on MLB's new anti-hazing policy, Rays rookie players and staff - plus second-year LHP Blake Snell - donned DJ Kitty onesies for the trip to New York.

    Rays rookie players and staff - joined here by Alex Colome - sporting their DJ Kitty onesies before the flight to New York.
  2. Pasco residents affected by Irma invited to town hall meeting

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Representatives from Pasco County Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will play host to a town hall-style meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday in the first-floor boardroom of the West Pasco Government Center, 8731 Citizens Drive, New Port Richey

    Sandra Cunningham assesses the damage a water oak did to her Church Avenue home when it crashed into her bedroom roof during Hurricane Irma.
  3. Lightning's Nikita Kucherov has a lot to say — about moving on to a much better season

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Nikita Kucherov sits back in his stall and smiles.

    Laughs a little, too.

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) prepares for a faceoff during the first period of Friday's  (9/22/17) preseason game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Clearwater man shot, seriously injured

    Crime

    CLEARWATER — A shooting Sunday morning in unincorporated Clearwater left one man seriously injured, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

  5. Mother of double amputee Ireland Nugent to lose her own lower right leg

    Human Interest

    Ever since Ireland Nugent lost both her lower legs in a lawn-mowing accident five years ago, the Clearwater girl has inspired her mother, Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, with the courage she has shown in overcoming the tragedy.

    Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, left, looked on as her daughter Ireland threw out the first pitch when the Tampa Bay Rays played the Houston Astros at Tropicana Field on June 22, 2014. Jerry Nugent held his daughter for the pitch. Now Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent is facing surgery to amputate her own lower right leg due to a rare infection. WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times (2014)