Published April 18, 2018
Former president Donald Trump’s last-minute endorsements in the crowded Ohio and Pennsylvania Republican Senate primaries are gambles to show he can still drive underdogs to victory. Trump’s immediate political future now likely turns on whether those bets pay off.
Trump’s status as the GOP’s kingmaker already stands on shaky ground. His first endorsee in the Pennsylvania Senate race, Sean Parnell, dropped out after his estranged wife accused him of spousal and child abuse (which Parnell denies). And Trump’s pick in the Alabama Senate race, Rep. Mo Brooks, started in first place but gradually sank to third in the polls as he failed to keep up with two big-spending foes. Trump then withdrew his endorsement, apparently attempting to avoid defeat by abandoning ship. Savvy politicos nonetheless took note: Trump could command, but the GOP tides might not listen.
Henry Olsen is a Washington Post columnist and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.