Donald Trump wrapped up the Republican nomination for the presidency by winning yesterday’s Indiana primary, prompting Ted Cruz to suspend his campaign. Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus posted on Twitter, “we all need to unite and focus on defeating @HillaryClinton #NeverClinton.” Republican Party of Iowa Chair Jeff Kaufmann weighed in a little later last night, “The only movement I’m a part of is the #NeverHillary movement #UnitedIowa.”
Yet many lifelong Republicans have vowed not to vote for Trump under any circumstances. After the jump I’ve listed some well-known Iowa activists and strategists in that camp. I have not yet found any elected GOP official in Iowa willing to say #NeverTrump. Governor Terry Branstad and our state’s Republican U.S. Senators and House representatives are poised to support the nominee, despite Senator Joni Ernst’s discomfort with Trump’s way of expressing himself. I welcome tips on any GOP state lawmakers, school board, city, or county elected officials willing to go on record that they will not vote for Trump.
UPDATE: Hardin County Auditor Jessica Lara (R) confirmed on May 4 that she is “not ashamed” to say, “NEVER TRUMP.” She further commented that she is “low key when it comes to politics” and did not endorse any candidate before the Iowa caucuses, adding that Trump “does not represent me or my values.”
Senator Chuck Grassley, Ernst, and Representatives Steve King and David Young confirmed that they will support Trump. I’ve added below excerpts from the Des Moines Register story by Brianne Pfannenstiel and Matthew Patane.
Talk radio host Steve Deace published a February 29 commentary for the Conservative Review on “Why I Will #NeverTrump.” He was an early Cruz endorser. UPDATE Deace posted on May 4, “Since leaving the @GOP I feel liberated, like the break up chick in a Gretchen Wilson song. It’s like soul-cleansing.”
Social conservative activist Shane Vander Hart, who blogs primarily at Caffeinated Thoughts, has also been promising to #NeverTrump for months. Vander Hart originally backed Bobby Jindal for president, joining the “Cruz Crew” in late December. UPDATE: On May 4 Vander Hart explained why his conscience will not allow him to vote for Trump.
David Kochel, a former senior strategist for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns who worked for Jeb Bush during this cycle, has used the #NeverTrump hashtag.
Justin Arnold, who was Marco Rubio’s political director in Iowa before the caucuses, has said of Trump, “Under no circumstances will I ever support this man.” Click through to read Arnold’s guest editorial for the March 23 Des Moines Register, which explained his position.
Natalie Ginty, a former leader of the University of Iowa College Republicans, posted last night, “I will not be voting for President in November, and I will make sure not a single minute of my time or dollar I have helps Trump.” She previously commented on the day New Jersey Governor Chris Christie endorsed the billionaire, “I could not be more ashamed that I caucused for @GovChristie.” (I too know the pain of Iowa caucus regret.)
UPDATE: Isaiah McGee, a former Waukee City Council member and Branstad appointee who supported Rubio before this year’s caucuses, posted on Facebook last night, “Still #NeverTrump.”
SECOND UPDATE: Bob Vander Plaats told Iowa Public Radio on May 4 that he wants to talk to Trump about a possible endorsement. After the way those two mixed it up in January, I would have pegged Vander Plaats for the #NeverTrump camp.
THIRD UPDATE: Brianne Pfannenstiel and Matthew Patane reported for the Des Moines Register on May 4,
Ben Carson’s former Iowa co-chair Rep. Rob Taylor, R-West Des Moines, said he needs to do some soul-searching before he can commit to supporting Trump.
State Rep. Matt Windschitl, a Missouri Valley Republican who endorsed Bobby Jindal, said he’ll vote for Trump, despite serious reservations.
“This absolutely causes me heartburn …” Windschitl said. “The things that Mr. Trump has said previously over the past couple decades don’t match up with the values that I hold near and dear to my heart now. So it’s kind of hard to figure out how is that going to play out. Is he just saying something to say it or does he truly believe in it?” […]
King, a former co-chair for the Cruz campaign, said he isn’t joining the “Never Trump” movement, but he isn’t ready to fully pledge support either. King said he wanted to see Trump make an effort to unify the Republican Party and heal divisions that have arisen during the election, including those Trump caused. Should Trump become the nominee in July, King said he would support him.
“I’m keeping my powder dry and I want to see what Donald Trump has to say,” King said. “This is a difficult thing for a lot of people to swallow, but I don’t want to encourage them to jump on the Never Trump bandwagon and I don’t want to encourage an alternative candidate.”
THURSDAY UPDATE: Jordan Rudner reported for the Texas Tribune that former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush will not endorse Trump.
Bush 41, who enthusiastically endorsed every Republican nominee for the past five election cycles, will stay out of the campaign process this time. He does not have plans to endorse presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, spokesman Jim McGrath told The Texas Tribune.
“At age 91, President Bush is retired from politics,” McGrath wrote in an email Wednesday. “He came out of retirement to do a few things for Jeb, but those were the exceptions that proved the rule.” His son Jeb Bush dropped out of the GOP presidential race in February.
Bush 43, meanwhile, “does not plan to participate in or comment on the presidential campaign,” according to his personal aide, Freddy Ford.
Here’s a list of Iowa Republican state legislators who endorsed presidential candidates before the 2016 caucuses. I expect all of them to get behind Trump, though a handful who supported other contenders may surprise me.
For Trump: State Senator Brad Zaun (which didn’t seem to influence his constituents)
For Cruz: State Senators Jason Schultz, Randy Feenstra, Bill Anderson, Jake Chapman, Jerry Behn, Dennis Guth; State Representatives Terry Baxter, Greg Heartsill, Steve Holt, Sandy Salmon, Larry Sheets, Ralph Watts
For Rubio: State Senators Jack Whitver, Rick Bertrand, Tom Shipley; State Representatives Brian Best, Megan Jones, Bobby Kaufmann, John Wills
For Christie: State Representatives Kraig Paulsen, Chip Baltimore, Gary Carlson, Dave Deyoe, Norlin Mommsen, Jake Highfill
For Jeb Bush: State Senator Charles Schneider, State Representatives Rob Bacon, Greg Forristall, Dave Heaton, Ron Jorgensen, Linda Miller, Zach Nunn, Ken Rizer
For Carly Fiorina: State Senator David Johnson, State Representatives Lee Hein, Clel Baudler, Josh Byrnes, Ross Paustian, Mike Sexton
For John Kasich: State Representatives Mary Ann Hanusa, David Sieck
For Ben Carson: State Representative Rob Taylor
For Lindsey Graham: State Senator Tim Kapucian
For Rick Santorum: State Representatives Walt Rogers, Dean Fisher