If your political party has a favorability rating of roughly 30%, with support depleting rapidly among women voters, diminishing prospects of holding much power in the next two years to come, and is led by a guy who brags about committing sexual assault, it would probably not be a good idea to be seen with, much less openly commend, a candidate for office who has been accused of sexual misconduct. If you agree with all of that, you’re smarter than Mike Pence.
Many Republicans are running for the exits come 2020. Some are retiring even before their term is actually up, while others are facing a primary challenger. Few want to be put on the spot and face the question of whether or not they’re sufficiently loyal to Donald Trump. The degree of support will always be too high (as is often the case) or not loyal enough, to the liking of voters. Steve Watkins of Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District, is one of the Republicans who was fortunate enough to survive last year’s blue wave, despite being a scandal ridden candidate.
One of the allegations was that Watkins lied about his role as a defense contractor, claiming to have built his business from scratch, one he never actually owned in the first place. The other allegation was a bit more serious: trapping a woman in a room and making unwanted sexual advances twelve years ago. For his short time in office, he’s been faced with pressure from the party to resign, and is now facing a Republican primary challenge from the state’s former treasurer, Jake LaTurner.
We have yet to hear if Mike Pence considers the video where he calls Watkins “awesome,” an actual endorsement – or if he’s even aware of the accusations against Watkins. Either explanation is a hard sell for Pence, and at the least exposes him and his staff as highly incompetent since they couldn’t do basic research on the guy from just a year ago. It also makes you wonder if he’s again acting deliberately, quietly signaling to Trump’s underlings that he’s actually condoning behavior just as bad as that of his boss.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making