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Rick Wilson’s best seller rips Matt Gaetz and highlights St Pete mayoral race

The Tallahassee Never Trumper says Gaetz is opportunist.
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Published Aug. 8, 2018
Updated Aug. 8, 2018

Congrats to Florida's most visible #NeverTrump Republican, longtime campaign strategist Rick Wilson, on the release of his new book, Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever.

One day after its release, the screed against all things Trump already is #5 on Amazon's Best Seller list, bumping pro-Trump best sellers by Gregg Jarrett and Jeanine Piro.

Publisher's Weekly called it "a scathing, profane, unflinching, and laugh-out-loud funny rebuke of Donald Trump and his presidency."

NPR: "…The book has itself the intellectual rigor of a Comedy Central roast for Justin Bieber — and isn't conscious of its own central irony: Though it calls for ascending to a higher plane, beyond Trump, it's filled with empty insults."

"Wilson's insider take is hilarious, smartly written, and usually spot-on," Kirkus Review said.

[Read a Tampa Bay Times profile of Rick Wilson]

The book is not heavy on Trump's effect on politics in Florida, but Wilson does single out U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz for scorn:

There are a dozen opportunists in the House Trump camp, young, full of hustle, eager to on Fox News. They only look like the aforementioned Tre Believers. They're not; these guys are conning the con man. One example is Matt Gaetz of northwestern Florida's 1st Congressional District. You've seen Matt on a hundred cable news shows. Young, dark-haired, and slowly going to seed, he looks like a frat boy wearing his father's suit.

Matt comes from a political family; his father was president of the Florida Senate, and Matt served in the Florida House from the tender age of 22. He has an eye for the main chance and a nose for the win.

As full-time Trump cheer squad members, Matt and others have worked the Con Man in Chief like champions, playing to his vanity, giving Fox News the kind of pro-Trump talking head action money can't buy, but it rings more than a little hollow. The ambitions of the opportunity class are vividly apparent. In the meantime, Matt and the others are harvesting cash from building out their email lists of the credulous Trump fan base.

We mentioned this criticism to Gaetz, who in fact never joined a fraternity and was elected to the Florida House at age 27. He shrugged it off.

"Three things happen to #NeverTrump Republicans – they lose, disappear from relevance, or get a job at MSNBC/CNN. I'm glad Rick got the best of these options. I've always liked him," Gaetz said.

The book also highlights the 2017 St. Petersburg mayoral race between Republican former Mayor Rick Baker and Democratic incumbent Rick Kriseman. Once the frontrunner, Baker lost in large part because Kriseman made the election a referendum on Trump. Even after the violent white supremacist rally in Virginia,  Baker opted not to distance himself from the president popular with so many Republican voters.

…This was Baker's race to lose. Kriseman had been a frankly terrible mayor, beset with a record of city projects that flopped or hung in limbo and a record of delay, incompetence, and mismanagement that would make a 1950s Soviet bureaucrat proud. In the end, though, the petty scandals and failures didn't matter. Kriseman could have stayed in bed eating bonbons and still won because Donald Trump couldn't help but defend his base in Charlottesville….

To me, this is far and away the most insightful part of Everything Trump touches Dies in that it excerpts the writing of the Tampa Bay Times' political editor.