According to a feature story this week in Politico, Republican operatives – strategists, lawyers, and even vendors – are facing implicit and explicit threats from the GOP establishment: If you go to work with Donald Trump, don’t expect to work in Washington ever again.
Or, as a veteran strategist put it to Matt Braynard – a tech wizard who ran Trump’s data team last year: “You realize once you go Trumptard, your career in GOP politics is over?”
Politico reached out to “more than a dozen operatives” for the story and found variations of the same story again and again. Not only was the Republican establishment trying to stop Trump in the conventional sense, they were actively trying to keep his campaign from snatching up the top talent in the biz.
From the story:
Katie Packer, who served as Mitt Romney’s deputy campaign manager and now runs an anti-Trump super PAC, said: “I know that I would never hire or want to work with somebody who tried to help Trump. It would be disqualifying.”
Trump’s opponents have been the loudest and most outspoken voices in amplifying talk of a blacklist, but, Packer said, “there are a lot of people who share my view.”
As Politico notes, there are several problems with the idea of crushing the careers of Republicans who cash a Trump paycheck. For one, most of the animosity is likely to die away if he becomes the Republican nominee. The power will shift, and it could be those strategists who took a risk who wind up in the best post-convention spots. If he becomes president, that outcome will be magnified to the point that the anti-Trump people (like Miss Packer up there) could be the ones in the unemployment line.
But even if he doesn’t win, the political landscape of today isn’t quite as cloistered and clannish as it was in decades past. Opportunities don’t begin and end with the Republican National Committee. Super PACs abound, and strategists who have been “blacklisted” in the past have found plenty of work for themselves despite being on the outs with the establishment.
On the other hand, it’s still a risk. No one knows how all of this is going to turn out, and few high-powered consultants will want to sully their reputations by backing one of the most controversial candidates of all time – especially if they don’t think he can defeat Hillary Clinton in November. The outside threats and pressure…well, that only makes the choice that much easier. To pull this thing down, Trump will have to not only overcome his Republican rivals and the Democrats – he’ll have to overcome the entire DC establishment.
And – bolstered by a huge win this week in New York – he just might do it.