Key Republican recruits hesitate to jump in if Trump is the nominee

Source: Politico | May 22, 2023 | Ally Mutnick and Holly Otterbein

Potential Republican candidates in swing states and districts are reluctant to throw hats into ring.

Less than a month after the midterms, Republican recruiters were already plotting how to persuade their prized 2022 Senate nominee to run for a Colorado congressional seat in 2024.

Joe O’Dea was popular, personally wealthy and had adopted the kind of moderate positions that would endear him to voters in a swing suburban district, perhaps more easily in a state that has quickly turned blue. He was — and still is — interested. But among his top considerations: what it would mean to share a ballot with Donald Trump, according to two people familiar with his thinking.

As Republicans start to assemble a crop of contenders that can retake the Senate and grow their excruciatingly thin majority in the House, they are running into a persistent complication. The current GOP presidential primary, and Trump’s early dominance, has spooked some potential down-ballot candidates, according to a dozen recruiters, operatives and congressional hopefuls who were granted anonymity to speak candidly with POLITICO about the recruitment process.

Many of their prospective recruits are wary of running alongside Trump, who dominates the spotlight, repels crucial independent voters and forces his fellow Republicans to answer for his unpredictable statements. It’s a dynamic that candidates don’t relish, and it has only come into sharper focus since Trump’s CNN town hall, when he spent 70 minutes on primetime television this month unleashing a torrent of incendiary remarks.


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