Is former President Donald Trump damaged political goods — so much so that Republicans need to move on from him?
And if so, who would take over the helm of the GOP? Who is the heir apparent?
Writing in the New York Post, columnist Michael Goodwin assessed the midterm election results and has concluded a) Trump has become a drag on the party because he motivates Democrats to go to the polls even if it means voting against their own best interests; and b) the party is now Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ for the taking.
“An old proverb says that the dogs bark, but the caravan goes on. In an updated version, Donald Trump plays the noisy dog as Ron DeSantis marches to victory,” Goodwin’s column, published Wednesday morning, begins.
The Florida governor won a smashing blowout Tuesday by routing Democrat Charlie Crist by nearly 19 points, a margin that no poll predicted. He followed that with a raucous speech that was both a celebration and a skillfully worded test of national themes as he declared, “Florida is where woke goes to die.”
And, likely referring to the fact that he won Miami-Dade County, a longtime Democratic stronghold that is 70% Latino, by double digits, DeSantis declared, “We not only won election, we have rewritten the political map.”
Goodwin went on to point out that, with every election cycle, more Latinos stream into the GOP big tent, which was well demonstrated by the Miami-Dade victory for DeSantis.
“Suddenly, 2024 doesn’t feel so far away. Nor does Trump look like the only choice or the inevitable nominee,” he wrote.
“In that sense, the night was a coming-out party for DeSantis, who has been wary of talking about anything other than re-election. He won narrowly four years ago, but his margin Tuesday will garner enormous attention among Republicans desperate for an alternative to Trump,” Goodwin continued, noting that was also on the minds of DeSantis supporters at his victory party Tuesday night, with many chanting, “Two more years!” — a hint that the governor should jump in for ’24.
Goodwin then went on to point out another major turn-off for many current — and former — Trump supporters: His acidic petulance.
“Naturally, all this is driving Trump further up a wall. As DeSantis closed in on victory in recent days, Trump began sniping from the sidelines, making veiled threats that he had dirt on DeSantis and warning him not to run in ’24,” the columnist noted.
“It was a shameful spectacle, and yet so par for the course that it garnered mostly shrugs. Trump also probably aimed to reduce DeSantis’ margin of victory and thus reduce the threat to himself for the GOP nomination,” he added.
Goodwin noted that DeSantis’ victory speech was not long-winded at all at under 10 minutes, “but it was as impressive as his margin. Substantive, sharp and capturing the rise of Florida as a haven for blue-state refugees, it was a masterpiece of the moment.”
As for what comes next with Trump, Goodwin made a prediction: “As a result, Mount Trump can be counted on to continue to simmer and smoke before he finally explodes. It may not matter because in DeSantis, he might have finally met his match.”