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S.E. Cupp: Dems’ risky bet on Trumpy Republicans

S.E. Cupp, Tribune Content Agency on

If you gave money to the House Majority PAC, associated with Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, you probably didn’t intend for it to help back a far-right Trump defender in California’s 22nd district, who believes Trump would still be president if the 2020 votes had been “properly counted.”

Or to another California Republican candidate in California’s 40th district who trafficked in anti-Semitic tropes while running for the House of Representatives there.

But Democratic PACs, the Democratic Party and fundraising outfits all over the country — from California to Colorado, Pennsylvania to Illinois — are putting Democratic dollars behind far-right Republican candidates in hopes that they’ll beat their more moderate Republican counterparts in the primaries. It’s a big gamble predicated on the somewhat smug and downright amnestic belief that voters couldn’t possibly support an extremist, racist, conspiratorial or inexperienced candidate — in other words, Trumpy — in a general election. It was the same calculation Hillary Clinton made in 2016, assuming that elevating someone as “unlikely” and offensive as Trump in the Republican primary would make a general election a cakewalk.

I’ve said for a long time that many in the media took the same approach. The over-coverage of Trump wasn’t just because he was, at best, entertaining, or, at worst, truly newsworthy for his impolitic and unorthodox campaign, but because there was this underlying assumption that the more we exposed, the worse he would perform.

We know how that turned out. So, we’ve all learned our lesson, right? Obviously not.

The Democrats have spent millions in ad buys pushing far-right candidates.

 

Their biggest gamble so far is on Doug Mastriano, the Trump-supporting Republican candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania.

In his primary against former Rep. Lou Barletta, the Democratic nominee Josh Shapiro ran ads tying Mastriano to Trump, calling him “one of Donald Trump’s strongest supporters,” and insisting, “If Mastriano wins, it’s a win for what Donald Trump stands for.” It was a clear effort to elevate Mastriano and get “ultra-MAGA” voters out to the polls. And it worked.

And it’s a strategy Shapiro defends. When asked by CNN if it was “irresponsible,” he said, “What we did was start the general election campaign and demonstrate the clear contrast….”

Democrats better hope it works. If Mastriano defies their calculation that Pennsylvania couldn’t possibly elect him governor, the detritus will be considerable.

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