The president is giving his imprimatur to candidates who didn’t even vote for him in 2016 in hopes of keeping GOP control.
President Donald Trump is tossing aside his habit of punishing his past doubters, and is increasingly embracing Republicans running in state and congressional races.
The list includes California gubernatorial candidate John Cox, whom Trump endorsed ahead of Tuesday’s open primary, siding with state GOP leaders who fear being shut out of the general election in November under California’s top-two finisher rule — despite the fact that Cox voted for libertarian Gary Johnson in 2016.
“From where I sit, the perspective is about winning elections and protecting our majority in Congress,” said Harmeet Dhillon, California’s national Republican committeewoman.
Under California’s system, the top two finishers advance to the general election irrespective of party affiliation, opening up the possibility of two Democrats — Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — facing off in November. Dhillon said Republicans fear a statewide swing of 3 to 4 percentage points because of GOP voters staying home if it’s an all-Democratic ballot, which could make it harder to hold on to key Republican congressional seats and in turn risk Republican control of Congress.
“When you look at those stakes, what the president is doing is what’s best for our country,” Dhillon added.