Meet Mark Freeman. He's a doctor who has decided to throw his hat into the race to represent Florida's 18th Congressional District (the one Patrick Murphy is leaving to run for the U.S. Senate). He's self-financing his campaign and is strongly conservative.
He also seems to see American politics as not just a battle between ideologies, but also between different groups of Americans divided along demographic lines. In fact, he keeps rambling on about how Republicans need to put together a coalition to counter those "women and minorities, young people, [and] welfare people."
“Now we Republicans have a chance in this campaign to bring our hard-working middle class into our party,” Freeman said at a candidate forum Monday, according to the Palm Beach Post. “We know their coalition – women, minorities, young people, and people on welfare. Against
This is actually the second documented time Freeman has used a similar line in public.
“We know what we’re against, the coalition on the other side — women and minorities, young people, welfare people," he said back in April. "We need to form our own coalition, a coalition based on this anger in the middle class."
It's like Mitt Romney's infamous "47 percent" remark on steroids, and
(At that same April appearance, Freeman also claimed that African-Americans vote for Democrats because they get "free stuff.")
OK, Mark, so your coalition would have no women or young people. No blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native American, or Arab-Americans. And nobody on welfare, which presumably also includes the disabled.
So that just leaves white, able-bodied, middle-to-upper-class men. (No word on whether they should be straight and Christian.)
Which is, well, actually what the existing Republican coalition looks like. Especially in Florida.
Back in 2012, 65 percent of white men voted for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama in Florida. That percentage would likely become even more pronounced if you filtered out young white men. Obama won younger voters. Romney won among those over 45 years old.
White men are already the base of the coalition of the Republican party and have been for more than a generation. Which is exactly the Republican party's long-term existential
Women are now more reliable voters than men, and the electoral share of minority voters in America (especially Hispanics) is growing. Young people increasingly have negative views of the GOP, and those young people will grow up to be older people who potentially might keep leaning Democratic.
Which is exactly why Republican leaders got together back in 2013 to outline the party's "Growth & Opportunity Project" report. The general idea was that while the GOP should stick to its core values, it needs to present itself as a party that appeals to more than just old white men. That's not a surprising conclusion for a party that thought Mitt Romney blew his chances in 2012 largely thanks to that "47 percent" remark aimed at people on welfare.
Not everyone within the Republican Party agreed.
Donald Trump famously tweeted out his disapproval of the report in 2013 and has fashioned his campaign against the consensus of the report. It worked in the primary, but, if you've looked at any polls lately, you know it isn't working in the general election.
That's why the Republican establishment is so slow to embrace Trump. Not because they're afraid of him as Trump would have you believe, but because they know his campaign is seriously messing with Republicans' plans for long-term electoral growth.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
And maybe the message could work for him in the short term. District 18 is now Republican-leaning and 74 percent non-Hispanic white.
But it's not a message that the Republican party wants to embrace, nor is it the type of blatantly demographically divisive message most Americans want to hear.
Freeman is facing five other Republicans in the District 18 primary and has promised to spend $1 million of his own money on the race. How well he succeeds could be a measure of how