Monday, April 24, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- For 2024, a Frankenstein's monster of 2015 parts

Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the goings on of the moment as 2024 approaches...

It was not that long ago that some were over-reading Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' travel as potentially indicative of his approach to the early states on the 2024 presidential primary calendar. And while FHQ is often quick to preach actions, not words in the invisible primary, that long haul plan of DeSantis and his aligned super PAC, Never Back Down, is perhaps more nuanced than simply where the governor is going. [He is abroad this week, for example.]

Despite some anxiety among his supporters, DeSantis and those aligned with his nascent presidential run seem to be playing a slow and methodical long game. In a week last week when the news was bad and the polling continued to take a turn for the worse, DeSantis and Never Back Down plodded along. The governor was in first-in-the-South South Carolina and Super Tuesday Utah addressing the state convention of Beehive state Republicans while Never Back Down was making hires several layers deep for operations in all four early states. The latter, in an evolution over the super PAC apparatus the (Jeb!) Bush effort built in 2015, appears to be assembling a full shadow campaign with all the cash it has at its disposal. 

And that is an interesting amalgam at this point in the race. It seems a bit of an attempt at a better Frankenstein's monster in 2023, taking elements of the Bush super PAC build out in 2015 and melding it with the deep organizing -- staff, grassroots and delegate efforts -- of the Cruz campaign. Neither were particularly successful against Trump separately in 2015-16, but fused in some respects in 2023, it may prove different. Regardless, the evolution continues to hint at the learning that has happened for the 2024 cycle among those who opposed Trump during the competitive 2016 Republican nomination race. 

Eyes were on Iowa this past weekend as Republican candidates, announced and prospective, addressed the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition. Political scientist, Steffen Schmidt, gives a reminder about why Iowa commands attention. 

Patrick Svitek has a thorough rundown of the state of the Republican presidential nomination race in Texas over at the Texas Tribune. The Lone Star state may be getting more competitive by some measures, but there are a lot of Republicans to go around to support national races. In the endorsement primary, some elected and former elected officials in the state lined up behind former President Trump ahead of his rally in Waco. 
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who chaired both of Trump’s previous campaigns in Texas, has been preoccupied with the legislative session but continues to have the former president’s ear. Speaking at Trump’s March rally in Waco, Patrick blasted those who tied the event to the deadly Branch Davidian standoff in 1993, saying Trump was following his recommendation to hold the rally there.

In the week before the rally, as speculation grew that Trump was facing indictment, his campaign made a push to corral more endorsements from Texas Republicans in the U.S. House. U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson of Amarillo, who was Trump’s doctor in the White House, took the lead inside the delegation, according to a person close to him.

The effort paid dividends as his campaign prefaced the Waco rally by announcing its “Texas Leadership Team” featuring eight new congressional endorsers. Fresh supporters also included Land Commissioner Dawn Buckingham and former U.S. Rep. Mayra Flores of Los Indios.
However, many are still sitting on the sidelines. And big donors in Texas have not shied away from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
As the political world waits for his official presidential campaign launch, DeSantis has cultivated some intriguing — and generous — donors from Texas. Two of last month’s top contributors to his Florida political committee were both from Texas: an entity called Rural Route 3 Holdings LP, which gave $1 million, and a Houston doctor named Clive Fields, who gave $500,000.

Rural Route 3 Holdings also contributed $250,000 to DeSantis last year.
There are not just a lot of potential endorsements and donors in Texas. The Super Tuesday primary there offers a significant chunk of delegates that will keep it at the forefront of the campaign as the invisible primary continues. 

Over at FHQ Plus...
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On this date... 1976, Rep. Mo Udall (D-AZ) won the Democratic caucuses in his home state of Arizona. 1980, Illinois Rep. John Anderson (R) withdrew from the Republican presidential nomination race (...but he would return for the fall campaign as an independent candidate). 1984, Sen. Gary Hart (D-CO) completed the sweep of 1984 Vermont contests, winning the beauty contest primary in March and taking the caucuses in the Green Mountain state on this date that April. 2004, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) won the caucuses in the territory of Guam. 2012, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) swept the five ACELA primary states (Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island) to pad his delegate total against only nominal competition at that point in the race. 


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