Has an out-of-town army of former Trump staffers descended on Wisconsin in a quest to defeat House Speaker Paul Ryan in next week’s primary election?
In the wake of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump refusing to endorse Ryan, Politico is reporting that “a group of former Trump campaign hands is quietly working to defeat” the Republican lawmaker by signing on to the campaign of Ryan’s primary challenger Paul Nehlen.
Politico noted that Nehlen openly supports Trump, who spoke well of the businessman’s upstart campaign while declining to endorse Ryan.
The challenger wasted little time in denouncing Ryan for taking “every opportunity to undermine Mr. Trump.”
“He’s not been loyal to him,” Nehlen said. “I think [Trump] has had it with that.”
He made it a point to quickly stress that he was only speculating on what Trump thinks “because I’ve never talked to him.”
And while Nehlen wasn’t eager to talk about former Trump staffers, Politico reported:
While they were not sent by Trump — in fact, most of the staffers had been laid off by his shoestring primary campaign or left amid infighting — their re-emergence in Ryan’s Southeastern Wisconsin district is notable.
Nehlen’s relatively small campaign appears to have collected the largest concentration of former Trump staff and volunteer advisers, with some acknowledging they see the effort to defeat Ryan as a continuation of the bitter fight Trump waged against the GOP establishment.
Among the group is Trump’s former director of field operations in Florida, Stephanie Scruggs, who’s a senior adviser for the Nehlen campaign.
The online news source pushed a popular theme in the media today — division in the ranks of the GOP.
The migration to Nehlen’s team also suggests that Trump’s presidential campaign may be spawning a new crop of operatives outside tight-knit GOP consulting circles. And it hints at the depth and persistence of the divide between Trump’s supporters and the party establishment.
Not that Trump’s Wisconsin state director, Pete Meachum, is buying into the narrative, saying in a statement “the only campaign that Trump staffers in Wisconsin are working on is to elect Donald J. Trump as our next President. Period.”
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