Democrats launch anti-Trump attacks on down-ticket GOP candidates

Donald Trump at podiumThe Trump effect has begun.

It’s what Republicans fear and Democrats embrace: How the controversial presumptive nomination of Donald Trump as the GOP’s presidential candidate will affect races further down the ballot.

Democrats are hoping to tie Trump around the necks of Republican candidates throughout the state, particularly among Latino voters who have so far largely rejected Trump in polling — and the ads are just beginning. 

Democratic PACs announced one such ad yesterday for a coastal congressional race, while another ad has been floating around online for an Assembly seat in Los Angeles County. 

Much of Trump’s strength is derived from his “outsider” status — a strong personality untainted by Washington. He’s mastered the art of winning headlines by making brash statements often seen as anti-immigrant and misogynistic. 

But it’s those outlandish comments that may make it hard to paint a fellow member of the GOP with the same brush, absent an endorsement, which neither of the two attacked candidates have done. 

“The problem for them is Trump is not transferable that way,” said Mike Madrid, a Republican consultant who specializes in Latino issues. “No one believes someone is a Trump Republican. Trump’s whole rise is that he’s not a typical Republican nor a typical politician. Very little evidence to suggest this will work.”


The House Majority PAC and CHC BOLD PAC are spending almost $300,000 in an ad campaign attacking Republican Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian as a Trump-like, anti-immigrant demagogue.

The ad supports Democrat Salud Carbajal. Both men are running to replace the retiring Democratic Congresswoman Lois Capps in a district that runs from Santa Barbara to north of Morro Bay. 

The district is more than one-third Latino, but has a close partisan split — Democrats have 39.79 percent of registered voters to Republicans’ 33.65 percent, with 22.87 percent declining to state. 

In Los Angeles County’s South Bay, former Democratic Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi is trying attacks like against the man who knocked him out of the Legislature in 2014, Republican David Hadley. Slightly different than the Achadjian ad, Muratsuchi is attacking Hadley for not denouncing Trump.

Hadley won by only 1 percent of the vote in the 21-percent Latino district. Democrats have nearly an 8 percent voter registration advantage, with 22.74 percent declining to state a preference. 

“These ads are exactly what Trump exposes Republicans to in swing districts,” said GOP strategist Rob Stutzman, who launched a campaign to stop a Trump nomination earlier this year. “Hadley’s answer is savvy though. I’m not convinced there’s a huge liability for ‘refusing to denounce’ him in general. But Trump will surely get trounced in (Hadley’s) district.”


A Field Poll last month showed 83 percent of Latino voters in the state had an unfavorable view of Trump, with even 69 percent of white voters having an unfavorable view (which is the most favorable of all the ethnicities).

And tying a candidate to an unpopular figure is a successful technique, to the extent that it can drive voter turnout. In 1996, President Bill Clinton tied his Republican challenger, Sen. Bob Dole, to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. The Trump connection will be successful to the extent that it can drive voter turnout. 

“When it comes to motivating Hispanic turnout, Trump is the greatest gift that Democrats could want,” said John J. Pitney, Jr., a Roy P. Crocker professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College.

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