Over the past week, POLITICO surveyed nearly 50 GOP candidates in competitive House, Senate and governor’s races on whether they’d be willing to campaign with the Republican nominee. Only a handful said yes — and the rest said no, refused to commit or didn’t respond at all.
It’s an unusual turn of events. Typically down-ballot candidates — eager to generate excitement and media attention for themselves, to turbocharge fundraising, and to increase their stature — spend the fall months proudly campaigning alongside their presidential nominee.
But in the year of Trump, appearing on the same stage as the party’s standard-bearer — whose negative ratings are higher than any other GOP nominee’s in recent memory — is perilous for those running in hypercompetitive states and districts.
“I would recommend they have a perpetual scheduling conflict,” said Rob Jesmer, a former National Republican Senatorial Committee executive director who advises a number of the party’s most prominent lawmakers.