A Texas-based political analyst isn't sure that GOP primary candidates there will benefit from embracing President Donald Trump in their campaigns.
Today, Texas holds the first 2018 primaries in the first midterms of the Trump presidency – and it appears the "Trump effect" is having some impact on GOP politics in the Lone Star State. In many cases, primary candidates are trying to outdo each other in heaping praise on the commander in chief.
In fact, campaign flyers for incumbent Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush declare that he's "standing beside our president." That's the same president who, as a candidate, described Bush's dad, Jeb, as an embarrassment to his family and a pathetic person.
Tom Pauken is a former chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. He contends that Bush, who is facing a serious primary challenge, is trying to convince voters that he's something he's not.
"George P. Bush is trying to fool Texans on that score by painting himself as pro-Trump. He was anti-Trump in the primary and his entire family was against Trump," says Pauken. "So it's ludicrous for him to be calling himself a pro-Trump Republican because he's not – he's just using it in campaign ads. I think it's a desperation move on Bush's part to hold on to the position."
According to The Associated Press, other GOP candidates in Texas are campaigning in similar form – one bragging about his "bigly" wins over Democrats, another saying she "stands with Trump," and still another airing a campaign ad showing him standing in a swamp and wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat.
Despite the apparent popularity among candidates to invoke Trump, Pauken admits he's unsure how much it will actually influence other statewide primary races.
"I think people look more at the candidate – what he or she is like, what they're saying, what they believe in, what their voting record is," he offers. "So I don't see [Trump] as a being a significant factor in these Republican primary races."
The significance of that influence could be clear after Tuesday's primaries in the traditionally Republican state where Democrats haven't won a statewide race in more than two decades – and where they're not favored to flip any of six congressional seats opened up by GOP retirements on Capitol Hill.