Donald Trump-backed Senate candidates have struggled in recent times, since Sean Parnell pulled out of Pennsylvania while denying allegations of domestic violence to former NFL star Herschel Walker angering party leaders with his run in Georgia.
But for a Republican nomination contestant in Missouri, Congressman Billy Long, the former president’s endorsement still carries the ultimate weight.
“If he supports in this race,” the 66-year-old told Politico, “I don’t care who he supports, it’s over… And that’s what I’m trying to get him to understand, you know , “You have to get involved in this race and end it.”
Long said he would say to the former president, “You look at the guy who has been with you since day one.” Never ever left. I mean, look at this tie.
The former auctioneer duly displayed his ties, a gold-striped number signed, apparently in his Sharpie marker, by Trump himself.
Long said Trump signed the $ 37 Nevada tie in 2016, when Long spoke on his behalf. Long had – and auctioned off – other ties signed by the president, including a vivid example with flags and caricatures Long carried to the State of the Union in 2019.
Trump’s own ties played a prominent role in the 2016 election and its aftermath.
In 2015, Macy’s made the news when it ditched Trump’s menswear line – many headlines said the retail giant was “cutting ties” – because of his racist remarks about Mexicans at the launch of his campaign.
In 2019, former New Jersey governor and Trump ally Chris Christie revealed that Trump advised him to wear longer ties to look slimmer.
Politico described Long as “built like a lineman” and said he spoke with a “big ‘Missoura’ twang”. In Missoura, whose other senator in office is the controversial Josh Hawley, who supports Trump, a large field is jostling to replace Roy Blunt, who is retiring.
One candidate, Mark McCloskey, rose to fame in 2020 when he and his wife pointed guns at racial justice protesters near their home in St Louis. Both have pleaded guilty to minor offenses. Another, Eric Greitens, resigned his governorship in 2018 amid sex scandals and campaign finance. Criminal charges were dropped.
Speaking to Politico, Long called Greitens “Chuck Schumer’s candidate,” a reference to the Democratic leader who will defend Senate control next year, hoping to face weak or controversial Republicans in key states.
A Greitens spokesperson told Politico: “Billy Long is a much better comedian than he is a candidate for the Senate.”
Observers, including Blunt, said Long, who also has a habit of distributing counterfeit money with Trump’s face on it, had a chance to win Trump’s approval.
But although Long voted to oppose Electoral College results in 2020, he also recognized Joe Biden as president, failing a key test in a Trump-sided party.
Long told Politico he would not follow his leader to the House, Kevin McCarthy, to Florida to worship the party’s golden idol.
“I have people who say, ‘Call him, call him everyday. Go sit at Mar-a-Lago and tell him you’re not leaving until he approves, ”Long said. “I’m smart enough to know this is not going to win Donald Trump’s favor.”
Others might say yes.