Matt Hickman

It’s odd to me the number of stories out there that speculate about the possibility of Donald Trump losing the election in November but then refusing to leave office. Odd because it’s been well documented that he had no desire to win in 2016, and was only making the run for the presidency as propulsion to start his own TV news network to rival Fox and OAN.

With the economy in tatters, and another probably heavier wave of coronavirus coming in the fall, as well as the Democrats likely taking the Senate and holding the House, why would he possibly want to be President in 2021?

The only reason I could imagine is to that once he leaves office, he and half his family are likely headed for jail, but if the Democrats control both houses, even hiding behind the office won’t save him. Second-term presidencies are always more littered with scandal than first-terms and I can’t imagine how much more scandalous a second Trump term would be.

If he announced his intention not to run, in LBJ fashion, he would have plenty of face-saving outs. He could say it’s because the media doesn’t give him a fair shake, or the swamp is just too thick to drain. If he gets out now, he can steer the narrative away from being a failed president to the Che Guevara-like leader of the Deplorables — the 20 percent of Americans who stand behind him no matter what; the ones he famously said would support him even if he ‘shot somebody on 5th Avenue,’ which, come to think of it, would probably be close to what second-term Trump scandals would look like. Leading sycophants through media is all he ever wanted.

Meanwhile, establishment Republicans have to be seeing the likelihood of losing the legislative and executive branches and seeing their party destroyed by Trump’s antics.

There must be conversations among these Wall Street/Country Club types — Republicans who must still exist somewhere — about a brokered convention in which a cat like Mitt Romney would make a fine choice to head the ticket.

Head-to-head, Romney would beat Joe Biden, wouldn’t he? His stock is considerably higher now than it was in 2012, thanks to his principled stands against Trump’s depravity.

At least half of the Deplorables would hold their noses and vote for Romney, and he would sway a lot of those in the middle who were planning on voting against Trump, not for Biden.

At that point, what would the Dems do? I assume Kamala Harris will be Biden’s pick for running mate. She’s black with a history as a prosecutor as being tough on crime, so she checks all the boxes. Would they then put her at the top of the ticket?

Would the Democratic Convention become a free-for-all where the delegates go back to Bernie Sanders to just have it out once-and-for-all on the merits of Democratic Socialist agenda?

If Romney were to be the nominee, it would have all sorts of down ballot consequences, as well.

It would certainly have an effect on the two national races in Alaska.

Alyse Galvin, who came as close as anyone since Ethan Berkowitz to beating Don Young in 2018, goes into 2020 with the same tireless work ethic she showed two years ago, but she is hamstrung by not being able to get on the road in her fancy RV and convince Alaskans, in person, to turn away from a name as recognizable as Young’s.

Come November she would certainly be counting on a major anti-Trump sentiment to close the gap in name recognition, and Romney at the top of the ticket would almost certainly guarantee yet another return to Washington for ‘Beer Virus’ Don.

Like Galvin, Al Gross is an independent running with the blessing of the AK Dems, who agreed not to hold a primary in the Senate race to try to unseat Republican Dan Sullivan.

While not having to face a primary challenge, like Galvin did in 2018 against Democrat Dmitri Shein, does save Gross the money and effort in the summer, it also hurts Gross, who doesn’t have great name recognition and doesn’t have the most attractive last name.

Gross also doesn’t have really any political experience, so a primary challenged might have improved his chops.

What Gross does have is a lot of money from donors nationwide. The DNC sees Sullivan as quite vulnerable, and as a result, Gross has managed to raise more than $3 million with more likely to come.

No amount of money is going to make Gross anything but an underdog in this race, and no football team can expect to have any hope of upsetting a heavy favorite without creating turnovers.

Here in early June, Gross just got one as Sullivan coughed one up in a big way at the worst time.

As Dermot Cole reports in this week’s Anchorage Press, Sullivan purposely held up confirmation of Gen. Charles Q. Brown as the chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force for the purposes of obtaining pork for Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks.

The vote, which was always going to be unanimous, makes Brown the first black Chief of Staff in U.S. military history, so the timing of this vote occurring on the same day George Floyd was buried, makes Sullivan look awfully bad.

It’s not a catastrophic boner for Sullivan, but it does give Gross the same advantage Biden is counting on — that voters will be motivated to vote against the incumbent more so than for them.

The more Gross can link Sullivan to Trump, the better his chances, but if Romney is at the top of the ticket, his open lanes close up quickly.

Trump being at the top of the ticket would also potentially affect the vote Alaskans face to recall Governor Mike Dunleavy, which still faces a tall hurdle in getting petition signatures to get on the November ballot.

Tying Dunleavy to Trump is easy. They’re tight buds who place a lot of their value as humans in being tall.

If Trump is on the ballot and wins, he might just appoint Dunleavy to some cushy cabinet position anyway, but if Romney’s there, I seriously doubt Alaskans would have the stomach to remove the governor.

And besides, why remove him anyway? Dunleavy’s handled the Covid-19 crisis better than most expected — with a big assist from medical chief Anne Zink, who’s certainly the front-runner at this point for Anchorage Press Person of the Year — and even though the virus hasn’t been disastrous here, Alaska’s economy coming out of it will be.

Dunleavy is facing recall because of his draconian cuts to state services, but as it turns out, those $400 million in cuts, which he said were only meant to “start a conversation,” are beginning to look like spot-on prophecy.

With no tourism season and oil prices bleak for the foreseeable future, no governor can bring back UAA theatre, or the ferry system, or really much of anything.

Surviving recall would just give Dunleavy a mandate for instituting more cuts, which may be a fait accompli at this point anyway.

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