Trump receives major NH endorsement as party ponders the convention

I don’t do a lot of endorsement coverage in the presidential campaign because, for the most part, it just feels like endorsements don’t mean what they once did in the bad old days of the gatekeepers. There is so much information available to everyone on a moment’s notice through their laptops, their phones and 24/7 cable news coverage that voters really don’t need somebody else to evaluate the field and tell them who to vote for. Looking at New Hampshire, though, I’ll make an exception to that rule. The Donald picked up an endorsement this week, not from yet another long established, glad handing politician or the editorial board of the local paper, but from the New England Police Benevolent Association. (Washington Examiner)

A New England police union voted to endorse Donald Trump Thursday evening, marking the Republican presidential front-runner’s first major endorsement in the early voting state of New Hampshire.

Trump announced his newfound support shortly after members of the New England Police Benevolent Association’s executive board members emerged from a meeting where they discussed the leading GOP candidate.

According to Jerry Flynn, executive director of the union, the benevolent association boast a membership of nearly 5,000 law enforcement and corrections officers from an estimated 200 precincts.

The mainstream media can remain in denial about it all they like but the Ferguson Effect is real. There’s a much larger contingent of voters who are concerned about law and order or the general subject of keeping the streets safe than those who are wedded to this or that candidate. We keep hearing that New Hampshire voters don’t make up their minds until the final week before the primary, (an assumption I personally take with a huge grain of salt) but if that’s true then this is the sort of endorsement which might move a few off the fence. What’s Trump’s bedrock appeal to the cops at this point? Your guess is as good as mine, but I’m just saying that this clearly doesn’t hurt. The Union Leader’s editorial board endorsed Christie recently, and he’s gotten a sharp bump in the polls this week, moving into a distant second behind Trump. But while second place is nice, Trump still moved up four points and is more than doubling him. So how much is a newspaper’s endorsement worth?

While we’re on the subject of Trump alternatives, I wanted to take a moment to touch on that story last night in the WaPo about the RNC gearing up for a brokered convention. You probably already saw AP’s analysis (Help us, Romneywan Kenobi… you’re our only hope!) but there was just something about the tone of the cable news coverage the story has been getting which sounded off to me.

I’m not doubting the veracity of the Post’s description of the meeting, but the takeaway seemed to be (at least in some circles) that Reince is out there plotting a way to dump The Donald. Their own description of the meeting, however, included the observation that Priebus was “listening” intently throughout the meeting and was taking their concerns seriously. Fair enough, but that didn’t lead me down the same path that some others were taking. I spent a fair bit of time on the phone last night with a couple of our sources inside the GOP, speaking on background, who tried to clear things up. The chief takeaway was that the Chairman is, “ready for all possible scenarios” at the convention. That doesn’t mean that Reince is going to be playing favorites or working to eliminate anyone or shove anyone else to the front of the line. All that was intended there was a reminder that the rules of conventions allow for a lot of oddball things to happen and that their crew is set to handle the more unlikely scenarios if they arise. (Still not a given since we haven’t actually had a brokered convention with a serious floor fight since the 50s.)

In the end, it’s the delegates themselves who will determine what happens at the convention. If Trump waltzes in there with a clear lead in the delegate count and the most votes from GOP primary participants around the nation, and the delegates then cook up a scheme to strip him of the title, it’s going to be lights out for the Republican Party as we know it, at least for the foreseeable future. It will pretty much confirm every whispered (or shouted) fear among the conservative base and the ensuing revolt is going to be devastating. But it won’t be Reince Priebus or the RNC in general that does it. The Chairman doesn’t have that sort of power. If it were to happen it would be the combined power and influence of the delegates sent by the rest of the establishment candidates, resulting in some old school wheeling and dealing. You can criticize the RNC all you like for debate formats, schedules or the primary rules, but once we get to Cleveland, Reince’s power is pretty much limited to that of playing referee. He simply doesn’t get to pick the nominee.

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David Strom 5:21 PM on March 31, 2023