In the liberal stronghold of California, being anti-Trump is a fad among nervous Republicans, and even retired Democrats re-enter the field have seen the value in championing anti-Trump sentiment as a way to boost themselves in the polls.
“Building Bridges, Not Walls is about standing up and saying, ‘Enough!'” former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in his announcement about the launch of his super PAC, five months before he officially entered the 2018 governor’s race. “We will help mobilize the passion we see in Californians who say ‘No!’ to Trump and direct it – through calls, texts and emails – toward swing states where it matters most,” he said.
According to the Sacramento Bee, the timing of his anti-Trump PAC announcement proved helpful and even boosted him in his bid for the state’s highest office, which will be vacated by Gov. Jerry Brown after he is termed out in 2018.
The stated goal of the super PAC was to defeat Trump in the general election. While Villaraigosa proved unsuccessful in that regard, his anti-Trump sentiment appeared to sit well with Golden State residents, the majority of whom are opposed to the nation’s 45th commander-in-chief.
Even California Republicans, like Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) of San Diego, are said to be looking at the benefits of jumping onto the anti-Trump bandwagon to help their reelection chances. According to the San Diego Tribune, Issa’s campaign conducted an internal poll that showed a 10-point drop in his favorability ratings between mid-October and early December, which was in part attributed to his support for President Trump.
Issa defeated Doug Applegate by a mere 0.6 percent (or 1,600 votes) in November, and Applegate has reportedly indicated his intention to run again in 2018.
The Tribune notes that the “Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Applegate both released ads that made use of Issa’s endorsement of Trump. Issa’s poll shows that the message in those commercials stuck. A total of 27 percent of voters surveyed who saw the ads remembered that Issa is a Trump supporter, more than any other detail that they could recall.”
In addition to that, those polled reportedly said that “when they thought of Issa they thought of Trump, and the same percentage said they thought of corruption and dishonesty in connection with Issa.”
Issa recently distanced himself from Trump and his administration over allegations of collusion with Russia, and has even been critical of certain members of his Cabinet.
The Democrats are also targeting Rep. Ed Royce and Rep. Jeff Denham, among several other Republicans seen as vulnerable in 2018.
However, in some districts, Republicans who broke with Trump before the 2016 election, such as Scott Jones in the Sacramento-area 7th congressional district, suffered defeat. Some in the GOP, particularly in the remaining conservative districts in California, see the value of sticking with a president who remains popular with his own voters and among conservatives generally.
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