Kentucky Rep. Just Wants To Be Loved By Trump. Is That So Wrong?
Republican House Rep. Thomas Massie is running campaign ads in Florida. What's strange is that he represents Kentucky's fourth congressional district. Floridians can't vote in Kentucky elections. Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn't even want them voting in Florida elections. But Donald Trump is a Florida Man these days, and Massie's trying to appeal to the president on his secret red state hot line, Fox News.
Massie, a four-term congressman, has bought ad time in the South Florida vicinity of Mar-a-Lago. He wants to plant the idea in Trump's feeble mind that Massie's Republican primary challenger, Todd McMurtry, "hates" the mad king. McMurtry, an attorney, has repeatedly hit Massie over his breaks with Trump on policy. Massie voted to prevent Trump from taking military action against Iran without the approval of Congress. He also said "no" to Trump's trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. He even voted to overturn Trump's emergency WALL funding.
It's no wonder Massie has gone topsy-turvy on McMurtry. His new ad highlights all the mean things McMurtry has said about Trump on social media. McMurtry called the president an "idiot" and the "epitome of a weak male." He even dared agree with Hillary Clinton that Trump was "temperamentally unqualified" to serve. (Fact check: All true.)
You might recall Trump was impeached barely two months ago, but he's still a hot ticket in Republican primary circles. Candidates are desperate for his support, and what Republican incumbents fear most is Trump endorsing a primary challenger. That's why former Rep. Mark Sanford from South Carolina is condemned to wander the Appalachian Trail alone for eternity.
Trump is known for holding petty grudges. He still break dances on John McCain's grave. Yet he's capable of putting the past behind him if someone is willing to put their face behind him and pucker up. Lindsey Graham is arguably the most repulsive example.
McMurtry has actively debased himself for the approval Trump would never give his eldest son. He tweeted a photo recently of the Trump hotel in Washington, DC. He claimed he was "waiting for his favorite president," which was an insult to the memory of Warren G. Harding. Still, McMurtry hopes Trump will focus on policy instead of the personal, and that's asking a lot from someone with Trump's limited emotional maturity.
"Every time President Trump needs him, Massie stabs him in the back," McMurty campaign manager Jake Monssen said. "It would be great if Thomas Massie's problem was limited to old Facebook posts. It's not. His problem is his anti-Trump voting record in the House."
Nothing explains why Trump will skate on his many impeachable offenses than his enduring support in states like Kentucky. I can't help thinking of how red state Democrats distanced themselves from Barack Obama in the months leading up to their 2014 wipe out. (We are still paying the price for losing the Senate.) It's not surprising that a Democratic president isn't very popular in Kentucky, but Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, who was trying to unseat sentient turtle Mitch McConnell, couldn't even admit to having voted for Obama.
It is unlikely that Trump will intervene one way or another in the Kentucky House race. He might still feel burned from the Kentucky governor's race. Even after voting against impeachment, Massie is still desperate to remain on Trump's good side. He's spent thousands to run the "McMurtry hates Trump" ad over the weekend in the West Palm Beach area. It's expected to air more than 50 times on Fox News in a 36-hour period. Massie will also even run the ad in his own state of Kentucky, which is where he lives and everything. However, what matters most to him right now is connecting with one specific person.
"Certainly," [Massie campaign manager Jonathan] Van Norman said, "Congressman Massie would welcome an endorsement from President Trump in his race.
That's just pitiful.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).