Back in the Spring I wrote that I expected Ron DeSantis’s hopeless campaign to eventually be replaced by another GOP candidate memestock, and perhaps a succession of them. By this I mean another non-Trump candidate who gets hosed down with high-roller dollars, gets a lot of media attention and sugar-high narrative buzz like DeSantis did, and then inevitably crashes and burns because GOP voters actually want Donald Trump. The only surprise to me is that there hasn’t been any coalescence behind a new guy, even as DeSantis’s campaign has become little more than a running joke. The inevitable conclusion we can draw from that dog not barking is that the couple dozen or so billionaires who play a dominant role funding GOP campaigns have reconciled themselves to getting back on the Trump Train.
But not so fast?
Last night Axios reported that a number of those high rollers are starting to panic because none of the current choices has any shot at dislodging Trump. And they’re looking to coax in an alternative. The focus is, unsurprisingly, on Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (I always figured it would be him) and to a lesser degree Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. But what’s most telling about the whole thing is how low energy it is. Yes, they’re reaching out. But they seem semi-resigned to it being hopeless. And to the credit of Axios, which is often very open to billionaire hype, they’re pretty clear that there’s zero evidence from polling or anywhere else that there’s any appetite for any of this among GOP voters.
The other part of this is about the would-be candidates themselves. How crazy would Youngkin or Kemp have to be to get in now when they look at the desiccated political carcass of Dead Bounce Ron? The idea that Youngkin or Kemp have any shot of taking the nomination from Trump is only conceivable in a scenario of catastrophic collapse for Trump. And if that collapse happens — a hope in the absence of any evidence — you’ve already got plenty of candidates who can win in that case.
Even with a few desperate overtures, the low-energy bark tells the story in spite of itself. They’re already reconciled to a Trump nomination.