Welcome to the great “outsiders’” revolution of 2016.
Not a single Republican establishment incumbent in the House or Senate has lost his seat this cycle. Worse, the GOP establishment has won most open seats. In Indiana, on the same night Donald Trump vanquished Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) from the presidential race, Rep. Todd Young (R-IN), a Boehner and McConnell loyalist, crushed his conservative opponent for the race to fill the open Senate seat. Todd Young was one of 43 Republicans to vote for the amendment last Wednesday night codifying Obama’s transgender mandate into law. The “year of the outsider” indeed.
It is quite possible that conservatives will fail to win a single Senate seat this year. One of the only promising prospects for conservatives is Florida where Rep. Ron DeSantis, who has a proven record of conservatism in the House, is running against a divided establishment lane in the race to succeed the retiring Marco Rubio.
In comes the empire to strike back. Over the past week, Sens. McConnell (R-KY), Corker (R-TN), and Cornyn (R-TX) have all expressed the hope that Marco Rubio changes his mind and runs for re-election. Further, Donald Trump – who was supposed to fight the establishment – is now calling on Rubio to run for re-election. Not coincidently, Rubio just announced he will attend Trump’s convention and would even be willing to speak on his behalf. A McConnell-allied Super PAC is now promising to support Rubio if he changes his mind. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), the RINO chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee who cheered on the race-baiting campaign against Chris McDaniel in 2014, is saying a Rubio run is “certainly within the realm of possibility.” McConnell admitted early this morning that he is doing everything in his power to lobby Rubio to run for reelection.
This doesn’t happen by accident; clearly something big is afoot. Whether Rubio himself is putting out trial balloons or the RINO empire is trying to pave the road for Rubio to change his mind, they are clearly trying to keep DeSantis and conservatives from winning a Senate seat. They are concerned that with a divided and crowded establishment field, DeSantis, with the help of groups like Club for Growth and Senate Conservatives Fund, would be able to win and become another Cruz ally into the Senate. While Rubio has been supporting Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a more moderate candidate, the power brokers fear he is not gaining traction.
When asked by Jake Tapper whether he’d reconsider running for reelection, Rubio left the door open, saying, ”Maybe … Sure, I mean maybe. I enjoy my work in the Senate. I always did.” The junior senator from Florida then indicated that the main reason he’d stay on the sidelines is because his friend, Lopez-Cantera, “deserves the chance to see where he can take it.” But what if Lopez-Cantera is convinced by the power brokers that he can’t “take it” too far? All bets are off.
What is most disturbing is that the “anti-establishment” Donald Trump is the leading voice to screw over conservatives in Florida.
Poll data shows that @marcorubio does by far the best in holding onto his Senate seat in Florida. Important to keep the MAJORITY. Run Marco!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2016
It’s bad enough that a number of conservative House challengers lost their bids against elite K Street members, such as Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) and Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) thanks to the increased low information turnout from Trump’s reality TV show campaign. Now, Trump is directly allying with the very people who served as the impetus for Trump’s rise in the first place in order to lock conservatives out of the Senate this year.
If this is a populist outsider’s rebellion, I’d love to see what an establishment elite election year looks like.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.