Politics

Why Any 2020 GOP Challenge to Trump Is Doomed

Neither Ohio's governor nor certainly Arizona's endangered senator could best the president in a primary

Someone should slap a picture of the Trump-Russia collusion narrative on a sepia Wanted poster and round up a posse to track it down because that sucker “Shawshanked” through the wall, escaped through the drain pipe, and headed for Zihuatanejo.

The Trump-Russia collusion narrative was last spotted aiding and abetting the left-wing media in their attempt to destroy the Trump presidency. We believe this narrative to be unarmed and badly injured. If you know its location, do not try to apprehend it on your own. Instead, contact CNN immediately.

It’s been a month and a half since CNN has tweeted the word “collusion” and weeks since it last tweeted the term “Trump-Russia.” Meanwhile, Google trends shows that searches for “Trump Russia collusion” are the lowest they’ve been in over six months.

With the left-wing media’s favorite anti-Trump narrative on the lam, several new narratives are competing to fill the anti-Trump, anti-reality vacuum. My favorite of these narratives (stop me if you’ve heard it) is the one where President Trump is going to be primaried in 2020. But in addition to the frequent speculation over Ohio’s Gov. John Kasich, pundits are now suggesting the president could get challenged by — get ready to spit your coffee out — Jeff Flake.

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Jeff Flake might primary Donald Trump in 2020. If you’re ever going to tweet the GIF of Ray Liotta’s gut-busting Goodfellas laugh, now is the time.

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A piece in Hot Air written by the mysterious, anonymous “Allahpundit” asked the question, “If someone’s going to primary Trump in 2020, why not Flake?” Allahpundit waxes giddy over the idea, saying, “Flake primarying Trump in 2020 as revenge would be fascinating.”

Then, last Wednesday, Flake himself said on “Political Rewind” that Trump is “inviting” a 2020 primary challenger.

So why not Flake?

Donald Trump worries about competition from Jeff Flake like General Motors worries about competition from Schwinn. Like Coca Cola worries about a nine-year-old’s lemonade stand. Like great white sharks worry about Michael Phelps.

The idea that America’s least-popular senator could primary Trump is based on busted 2015-16 assumptions that someone in the media tried to fix with Scotch tape and pass off as new: Trump only plays to the base. Trump can’t cast a wide enough net to win a general election, so they say. Trump needs to pivot; he can’t win if he won’t pivot. Trump can’t win primaries when the field is narrowed. Trump doesn’t have broad enough appeal to win all the delegates he needs. Trump’s voters will abandon him if he says something the media don’t like. Trump’s tactics won’t work against an experienced politician. Sound familiar? Don’t let the shrink-wrap fool you. These aren’t new songs! This is the left-wing media’s not-so-greatest-hits album, with never-before-seen cover art.

I admit that Flake is making a great case to reel in all those Kasich voters. If he tried to primary Trump, he might end up with 7 percent of the GOP delegates, just as Kasich did. He’ll be the second coming of Jeb Bush to that tiny sliver of Republicans who believe that conservative ideals are best served with a side of immediate and unquestioning surrender to the leftist narrative du jour. That tiny faction of the party who believe that friendly headlines in The New York Times and The Washington Post somehow equate to winning the conservative battle.

I have no doubt that the Establishment-knows-best Republicans who booed Trump at the debates will throw on their Gang of Eight T-shirts and their “Jeb!” caps and head to the polls with visions of President Flake dancing in their heads. But what about the supermajority 79 percent — about four-fifths — of Republicans who approve of Trump? That’s a big percentage. Get that many dentists to agree on a toothpaste, and you’ve got yourself a marketing campaign.

Combine Trump’s high approval among Republicans with the adversary-smothering advantages of incumbency. Factor in that he’s no longer a political novice. Suddenly, “Why not Flake?” starts to sound an awful lot like “Why not McMullin?”

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Jeff Flake rolled the dice on a Never-Trump political strategy, and so far it doesn’t look good for him. According to a Morning Consult poll from July, Flake has the lowest approval rating of all 100 Senators. Jeff Flake’s approval rating in the poll was two points lower than New Jersey Sen. Robert Menedez’s. That’s right, Jeff Flake can’t keep up with a guy who is currently set to go on trial for corruption.

Right now, a HighGround poll shows GOP challenger Kelli Ward with a 14-point lead over Flake in his Senate re-election bid. How can there be anyone left in the punditry who believes that America is longing for middle-of-the-road, self-loathing, faux conservatives? Establishment-approved, pseudo-conservatism is about as due for a comeback as subprime mortgages, VHS tapes, and New Coke.

What would Flake’s campaign slogan be? “Drain the Swamp-Drainer, Save the Slime”? Or, if he fancies going simple, “Jeff!” That might make for ringing endorsements from Washington, D.C., insiders, but it lacks the zeitgeisty goodness that propelled Trump to the Republican nomination and the presidency in 2016.

No Republican could beat Trump in 2016 when he was fighting his way up from the bottom. They sure aren’t going to beat him in 2020, when he’s the incumbent in the most powerful office on Earth. Even if there were a Republican who could pull off that feat, it’s not the least popular senator in America.

Eddie Zipperer is an assistant professor of political science at Georgia Military College and a regular LifeZette contributor.

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