Introduced as the man who would “Take Delaware Back,” Republican gubernatorial candidate Colin Bonini proudly proclaimed his support of Donald Trump during a rally in Harrington back in April.
“I am not just proud to be here, I am thrilled to be here and support and endorse the next president of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump,” Bonini enthusiastically proclaimed.
Fast-forward to earlier this month. After a lewd tape was revealed showing Trump talking offensively about women (and joking about sexual assault) Bonini was one of many Delaware Republicans who were quick to criticize the comments, calling them “tremendously offensive.”
Yet he refused to unendorse Trump.
“The two key components of the Trump candidacy are the message that the government is broken and the message that people who run our government are way out of touch with most Americans,” Bonini said. “I think those two ideas are still true and still important.”
Bonini and the Delaware Republican Party seem to want it two ways – they want credit for speaking out against Trump’s graphically misogynistic comments, but also don’t want to lose the support of his most rabid followers in the First State, which comprised 60 percent of the vote during Delaware’s primary.
It’s disappointing that someone as smart (yet misguided) as Bonini can’t see the writing on the wall. Trump is going to lose this election, and lost it badly. Not only that, his racist rhetoric about Muslims, Mexicans and “the Blacks” have only hastened the GOP’s decline into a minor political party, comprised mostly of older white men.
On top of that, Democrats are poised to take back control of the Senate, and the idea of Republicans losing control of the gerrymandered House of Representatives is no longer followed by howls of laughter.
Bonini was quick to chastise Trump for using the “P” word, but hasn’t spoken up when Trump called Mexicans “rapists,” mocked a disabled reporter, attacked Muslim Gold Star parents, openly criticized a federal judge due to his ethnicity, refused to condemn the white supremacists campaigning for him, condoned the beating of a protester at one of his rallies…
You get the picture.
It’s hard to imagine the real Bonini as the “Trump Mini-Me” he’s playing on the stump, which is why I drew him trying furiously trying to wash away the stench left by supporting the race-baiting candidate in my cartoon. But if he is just cynically playing to the most racist base of his supporters here in Delaware, he’s doing a convincing job.
In fact, Bonini seems to have a firm grip on Trump’s racist dog whistle. In recent weeks, Bonini said that voter fraud is real (it isn’t), has come out strongly against Delaware becoming a sanctuary state (there’s no current legislation on the matter) and said he’s against Delaware accepting Syrian refugees. Notice a trend there?
It’s not surprising that Bonini is losing big in the latest polling on the race, garnering just 25 percent of the vote against the well-know, yet uninspiring, John Carney. In fact, Carney is beating Bonini across every demographic, including men, women, young voters and minorities at all education levels in all three counties. Even a fourth of all Republicans polled said they’d cross party lines and vote for Bonini’s Democratic opponent.
Consider those voters the future of the Republican party, conservatives that may want a smaller government with less regulations, but don’t want the racist, bigoted rhetoric that comes along with their candidates. Bonini losing this race was always likely, but he could have helped the GOP rebuild and gain credibility on a path towards the future. Instead, he’s essentially help dig their grave.
Rob Tornoe is a cartoonist and a WHYY contributor. Follow Rob in Twitter @RobTornoe