In autumn 2015, the field of contenders for the Republican presidential nomination contained three sitting state governors and five former governors, all of whom had the executive experience that the President-elect so conspicuously lacks. Yet as the Republican governors’ association convenes in Florida this week, they do so under the banner of the party of Trump.
The GOP now has 33 governors, the most since 1922. Some, like New Jersey’s Chris Christie, embraced Donald Trump’s candidacy early and enthusiastically. Some, like Ohio’s John Kasich, vigorously opposed it. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, the association’s incoming chairman, exited the presidential race in 2015, portraying Mr Trump as dangerous to the party and the country.
Yet Mr Walker eventually endorsed Mr Trump and put his weight behind the businessman’s successful bid to become the first Republican presidential candidate to win in Wisconsin’s 10 electoral college votes since 1984. In an interview on Tuesday, he claimed Mr Trump’s win presented an opportunity to return power “to the states” and “to the people”.
Mr Walker addressed the gubernatorial gathering at the Waldorf Astoria Golf Club resort near Disney World on Monday night, as did Mike Pence, the Governor of Indiana and Mr Trump’s Vice President-elect. Also on the bill was Florida Governor Rick Scott, who urged his fellow Republicans to enact “disruptive change” in Washington.
In particular, Mr Scott called for the complete repeal of President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, which has provided health coverage for some 22 million previously uninsured Americans. “Of course we will need to unwind [Obamacare] in a fair way, but we absolutely must repeal it,” Mr Scott reportedly said.
Republicans now have a stranglehold not only over Washington, where they retained control of the House and Senate at last week’s election, but also over the majority of state legislatures. The GOP controls both chambers of the statehouse in 32 of 50 states, which account for more than 60 per cent of the entire US population.
The party’s control of state legislatures has allowed Republicans to roll back abortion and voting rights, to dramatically cut taxes and to crush union opposition, not to mention gerrymandering the electoral map to their advantage. From the presidency on down, the GOP is now close to unfettered in its capacity to enact sweeping change.
That is in extraordinary contrast to expectations ahead of the election, when Mr Kasich had planned to make a major speech about the future of the GOP soon after the Trump loss most predicted. As it became clear Mr Trump would triumph, the Columbus Dispatch reported, Mr Kasich quietly cancelled the speech, also putting on hold any plans for a 2020 presidential run.Reuse content