By David Cruz
The list of big names not attending next week’s Republican National Convention reads like a who’s who of the Republican political establishment: George Bush 41, George Bush 43, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney and John McCain to name a few. These boldface names are joined by big New Jersey Republican names like former Govs. Tom Kean Sr. and Christie Whitman, Congressmen Leonard Lance and Scott Garrett, Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno and Sen. Joe Kyrillos.
“Well, listen, it’s a very difficult time; there’s no doubt about that,” admitted Kyrillos. “There’s a lot of Republicans that haven’t completely accepted Donald Trump, that haven’t warmed up to him. They want to give him a chance. Many won’t. Every time I try to give him a chance, want to like him, try to like him, he says something that I can’t quite deal with.”
To be fair, Lieutenant Gov. Guadagno will be acting chief executive of the state next week, but other excuses have ranged from attending a child’s swim meet to handling constituent services in the dead of summer. Sen. Gerald Cardinale says, like it or not, presumed Republican nominee Donald Trump has earned it.
“Was Trump my favorite candidate at the beginning of this? No. Did he represent everything I wanted to see? No,” Cardinale said. “As the campaign went on I found him to be an acceptable candidate and he got more votes than any other Republican ever in any primary for president.”
And that, as much as anything, should compel state Republicans to get with the program, says Sen. Sam Thompson, another Trump delegate.
“They need to wake up because at this point it’s either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, that’s the choice,” he said. “You can throw out all the other names out there; those people are going nowhere. If you’re a Republican saying let’s get another one, you’re just saying let’s elect Hillary Clinton. That’s what it comes down to.”
Sen. Kevin O’Toole, who endorsed Trump after Gov. Chris Christie dropped out, says Trump represents a sea change for the party.
“I think the traditional Republican Party as we know it is dead. I think it’s a very different party going forward,” he proclaimed. “The days of having just the older, white male define the party is a recipe for disaster and I think that’s being put out to pasture and you’re seeing some of the guard that’s been there for the past 50 years is being put out to pasture and a younger, more diverse dynamic is coming to our party.”
You would get some arguments on that last point, even within the GOP, but O’Toole insists that Trump has more to offer on diversity than the press will admit, despite the fact that the party appears headed — once again — toward a ticket made up of two white guys, maybe the most conventional thing yet, in what has been a quite unconventional election season.