He grabbed a reporter so hard she had bruises on her arm and he was charged with battery. He lied about it until video footage showed what he did. A former Republican senator in New Hampshire just called him a “thug.” And on the same day that he got a shout-out from President Trump to run for Senate, he was subpoenaed by Congress to talk about an investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice.
Meet New Hampshire’s potential newest Senate candidate, Corey Lewandowski. Trump’s former campaign manager hasn’t officially entered, but it seems likely, if Trump is any indication. On Thursday, Trump gave him two separate shout-outs, including from his rally in New Hampshire: “He’s tough, and he’s smart, and I’m hearing he’s thinking about running for Senate in New Hampshire. I think he’ll be tough to beat,” Trump said.
Lewandowski is the latest, and brashest, politician to ignore all the rules of political decency, including incidents involving himself, and seriously consider running for office anyway.
Lewandowski is someone who is known, both nationally and in New Hampshire, more for his penchant for knockdown fights rather his political acumen. Yes, he was the first campaign manager for the now president of the United States, but he was fired.
Before that Lewandowski lost a 2012 race for treasurer of his hometown — badly, says the Union Leader — and got on the wrong side of the state’s most powerful family, one of whom is now governor.
He is also really scaring Republicans in Washington by seriously considering getting in the race. They are carefully plotting how to unseat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) next year while keeping Gov. Chris Sununu (R) in office and having Trump win the state for the first time in the general election.
Having such an unapologetic character like Lewandowski running for Senate there may draw national attention and money to the New Hampshire Senate race, but it could turn off independent voters and make the state more competitive for Trump.
“This makes it infinitely more difficult for the president to win reelection in New Hampshire,” one Republican strategist told The Washington Post’s Seung Min Kim and John Wagner. “Every time he goes to the state, he’ll likely be answering for his former campaign manager’s shady business dealings.”
Without Lewandowski in, this race had the potential to be competitive. The Fix put Shaheen’s (D) reelection as No. 9 of the top 10 seats most likely to flip parities next year. There’s a big Republican primary already, as The Post writes:
Don Bolduc, a retired Army brigadier general who led a team that rode into Afghanistan on horseback after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, has announced a bid, as has Bill O’Brien, a former speaker of the state’s House of Representatives. Attorney Bryant “Corky” Messner is also expected to announce a bid soon.
Washington Republicans in particular were excited about Bolduc’s military record and lack of political history.
By contrast, Democrats think they have a lot to work with to highlight just what kind of a person Lewandowski is. Before being on Trump’s campaign, he spent six years as a registered lobbyist, and New Hampshire Democrats think they can tie his business record since Trump got elected to trying to profit off his proximity to the president.
“Corey Lewandowski is an opposition researcher’s dream candidate,” American Bridge, a Democratic PAC, wrote in an email to reporters.
There’s a video of him grabbing a protester during the election in Arizona by the collar and accusations, which Lewandowski has denied, of making sexually suggestive comments to reporters.
Throughout all of it, Trump stood by Lewandowski. “I don’t discard people. I stay with people,” Trump said when Lewandowski was charged with battery.
Lewandowski is the closest person to Trump to try out the president's controversial tactics and try to run for office. But he's not the only one.
Former Missouri governor Eric Greitens (R) tried to survive career-ending sex and legal scandals by tossing blame everywhere but himself. “It’s the same playbook President Trump has used to defend himself in various legal and sex scandals, right down to language such as ‘witch hunt,’” I wrote at the time. It didn’t work for him. After a tortuous, drawn-out denial process that saw Republicans in the state turn on Greitens, he eventually resigned last year.
Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore is defiantly running despite being the first Republican in three decades to lose a Senate seat for Republicans in Alabama over allegations he was sexually inappropriate with teenage girls when he was in his 30s. In Moore’s first Senate run, Trump was the only Republican in Washington to stand by him, which undoubtedly played into Moore’s decision to run again.
And there’s 2020 Republican Senate candidate Kris Kobach of Kansas, who drove Trump’s efforts to find voter fraud and lost the governor’s race to a Democrat last year.
Moore and Kobach lost statewide races that Republicans thought were winnable. And Senate Republicans warn that both are uniquely situated to lose them again. Still, they run, with the defiant spirit that helped Trump win the Republican nomination for president when few thought he could.
Republicans are warning the same thing about Lewandowski in New Hampshire: that at the very least, his race isn’t helpful to the party.
But in this new, Trumpian world of politics — where the president of the United States is beset by scandal at almost every facet of his life and regularly praises those in similar situations — if you’re Lewandowski, why not try to create the same magic?