Will Texas Republicans Leave Donald Trump?

There are times when a relationship, no matter how good it was, has to end.

It’s a blues staple — realizing it’s over but reluctant to let go. It’s outlined in the blues standard “I Can’t Quit You Baby,” a smoldering song about holding on to a dying love. I prefer Little Milton’s version.

Some political relationships don’t last either, and there comes a time to walk away.

On Tuesday, Donald Trump is expected to announce another candidacy for the White House, which could prompt some Republicans across the country to consider leaving Trump for someone else — like Florida Gov. Mike DeSantis, a Republican who frequently mentioned as a contender for 2024 is the GOP presidential candidacy.

What role Texas and its politicians could play in the 2024 presidential election season

Trump lashes out at DeSantis, evidence that he sees the man he helped become a rising star as a political rival.

The prospect of a matchup between Trump and DeSantis in the 2024 GOP presidential primary makes me wonder.

Will Texas Republicans Leave Trump?

A Texas GOP Congressman will consider his options.

On Sunday Lone Star Politics, a political program produced by KXAS (NBC 5) and the Dallas Morning NewsUS Rep. Jake Ellzey did not say if he would support another Trump presidential campaign.

In 2021, Ellzey, a Waxahachie Republican, won a special congressional election to replace the late Ron Wright, beating Trump-backed candidate Susan Wright for the seat.

“I’m looking for an aspiring, unifying presidential candidate in the spirit of Ronald Reagan,” he said. “Our era today looks very much like 1979, with a nation that seems to feel divided, with self-inflicted energy shortages, with a not-so-strong president. And we’re looking for someone to bring us all together like Ronald Reagan did.”

Ellzey added he would support a “positive candidate who speaks well about other people.”

“If I can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” he said of the approach the next GOP presidential hopeful should take. “I support someone of that kind.”

This is not a description of Trump’s campaign.

In 2016, Trump wowed his supporters with an unconventional, data-driven campaign to beat the heavily favored Hillary Clinton for president. Trump’s Make America Great Again movement garnered legions of loyal supporters. As he once said during a 2016 campaign stop in Iowa, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

Dan Patrick, Lt.  gov.  of Texas, photographs Air Force One taking off from Dallas Love Field...
Dan Patrick, Lt. gov. of Texas, photographs Air Force One taking off from Dallas Love Field Airport after President Donald Trump attended a roundtable on race relations and policing and attended a fundraiser at a private residence on Thursday, June 11, 2020. at Dallas. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News)(Smiley N. Pool / Staff Photographer)

Despite being from New York, Trump was an instant hit in Texas. The Lone Star State provided him with more campaign money than any other state. That’s a nugget often cited by Roy Bailey, the Dallas businessman who served as co-chair of Trump’s finance team.

Lt. gov. Dan Patrick led Trump’s presidential campaigns in Texas, and Attorney General Ken Paxton brought the unsuccessful Supreme Court lawsuit – which critics called frivolous – to overturn the 2020 election results in several battleground states.

Texas Republicans seem to love Trump, but nationally, the thrill may be gone.

In some circles he is accused of costing Republicans a chance to win the Senate and a large majority in the House of Representatives.

As it stands now, the Republicans are expected to narrowly win the House of Representatives, but the Democrats will hold the Senate. That’s a major disappointment, given that the party generally has impressive gains outside the White House in midterm elections. And this year, voter unease about the economy should cause a red wave among Republicans.

It did not happen.

One of the reasons the wave became a trickle is that voters rejected Trump-backed candidates who were election deniers and conspiracy theorists. They lacked political or public experience.

More moderate or experienced candidates who would have found favor in the general election lost in the primaries to Trump-backed candidates. Had he stayed out of certain competitions, the results might have been different.

Many Republican leaders believe conservatism is a winning message, but they worry that Trump’s re-emergence as the presidential nominee will hurt their chances of winning the White House and spark election ups and downs across the country. As much as Trump mobilizes Republicans, he is a rallying cry for Democrats and independent voters.

Republican and Trump merch for sale during a GOP election night vigil party in Collin County on...
Republican and Trump merchandise for sale during a GOP Election Night Watch Party in Collin County on Tuesday, November 8, 2022 at the Haggard Party Barn in Plano, TX. (Juan Figueroa / Staff Photographer)

Until Saturday night, when Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto narrowly defeated Trump-backed Adam Laxalt to win the Senate for her party, Republicans hoped Trump would stay out of Georgia, where a runoff election between Trump-backed Republican Hershel Walker and Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock would have settled the fight in the Senate. The Democrat victory in Nevada makes this race moot over the issue of Senate control.

Still, Texas Republicans have decisions to make about Trump.

Not only is DeSantis a possible presidential contender, but Senator Ted Cruz, the last Republican to oppose Trump in the 2016 primary, could opt for another presidential run.

If DeSantis runs for president, Texas will become a critical state for its GOP rivals. Assuming DeSantis wins his home state in a presidential primary where he was easily re-elected last week with a cross-section of support, Texas and its plethora of delegates would be a potential lifeline for his opponents.

Trump has a Texas advantage.

In this year’s primary, he endorsed Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Patrick and Paxton. He also immersed himself in local races. In Tarrant County, he successfully re-elected Tim O’Hare as district judge and Phil Sorrells as district attorney. And in Collin County, former McKinney councilman Frederick Frazier won a state house race with Trump’s support.

“Trump’s endorsement of Abbott in the primary didn’t stop anyone from outstripping Abbott on the right,” Conservative political adviser Matt Langston said. “And Cruz has benefited greatly from Trump helping him redeem himself with the Conservatives after failing to support Trump at the Republican National Convention earlier this year. The stakes are high and Trump can play those chips.”

FILE - President Donald Trump speaks with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, during a visit to...
FILE — President Donald Trump speaks with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, during a visit to Lake Okeechobee and Herbert Hoover Dike at Canal Point, Florida, March 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, file)(Manuel Balce Ceneta / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Straw polls conducted at the Texas Republican convention in June found Trump ahead of DeSantis by a margin of 54% to 30%. In a race without Trump, DeSantis had 71% of the vote to Cruz just 9%. Abbott had 1% in both polls.

It’s possible the landscape has changed since June, but Trump appears to have wired Texas.

No, Texas Republicans cannot abandon Trump, nor will they abandon him for a while.

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