ATLANTIC CITY – Donald Trump was on the TV screen somewhere at 9 p.m.Tuesday to say he’s running again for president.
That wasn’t even background music for the hundreds amassing in the Cuba Libre bar/restaurant at the Tropicana for the annual InsiderNJ party at the League of Municipalities convention.
That was probably pretty good news for the many Republicans in the joint. Why ruin a fun evening?
This is not a hard calculation to make: As long as Doanld Trump stays active, it’s bad news for New Jersey Republicans.
Trump hovering over state Republicans – perhaps from Bedminster itself – gives Democrats a dependable and useful villain.
I know, I know, the “Trump Cult” remains engaged and passionate.
Rep. Jeff Van Drew, a one-time Democrat who crossed over to Trump almost three years ago, is already out with a statement of support for Trump in 2024.
Phil Rizzo, who has run unsuccessfully for governor and Congress as a Make America Great Again candidate, calls Trump the “uncontested leader” of the Republican Party.
Democrats have to hope so.
Recent history is worth rehashing.
Trump got a rather low 41 percent of the vote in New Jersey both times he ran for president. He may not have been competitive, but he was at least consistent.
The 2018 midterm election resulted in Democrats flipping four House seats. Two of those have returned to the GOP fold with Van Drew’s party switch and Tom Kean Jr. ‘s victory over Tom Malinowski.
But the point is that Trump so turned off suburban women that Democrats have become competitive in places where a decade ago, they simply were not. Think Morris County.
Let’s move to last week.
It is tough to prove convincingly what never happened, but it’s certainly plausible that Democrats kept control of the Senate because of MAGA candidates like Mehmet Oz (Pa.) and Blake Masters (Az.) Both lost, as did a number of statewide Trump candidates, most notably Kari Lake in Arizona.
It seems mind boggling that Trump supporters are still flocking to him despite his awful record in winning elections for himself and his chosen candidates.
That is why many Republican office holders, at least privately, are prone to say they just wish Trump will go away. They know he can’t win elections in New Jersey and that his presence in the GOP is a gift to Democrats.
This brings us to two questions.
When will more leading New Jersey Republicans begin saying publicly that Trump should go away?
And, will his devoted rank and file supporters finally realize that embracing Trump is a losing hand – unless their goal is to get 30 percent of the vote in a GOP primary?
Back to Tuesday night at the Cuba Libre, the Democrats at the party couldn’t watch Trump either, but you had to know they’re pretty happy to have him still around.