The New Trump Campaign
Director Takes Charge
(San Francisco Chronicle) - If you’re a Donald Trump supporter in California, what is more worrisome to you: that the candidate just hired his state director last week, less than two months before the nation’s largest state’s primary puts 172 delegates up for grabs, or that the new director has never met Trump?
“No, we haven’t met,” Tim Clark said 24 hours after taking the gig. He caught the Trump campaign’s attention after writing a March 3 opinion piece in the Sacramento Bee where he compared Trump to Teddy Roosevelt, saying, “Conservatives want someone who will knock some heads and stop the madness in Washington.”
Clark also wrote: “Yes, Trump has a track record of abrasiveness, of knocking heads and brazenly firing people. ... In normal election times, these might be liabilities. But, in the eyes of conservatives, Trump has the right qualifications to be president at this time in history.”
Only in the 2016 presidential demolition derby can you refer to someone as abrasive and then be hired — sight unseen — to run that campaign in the nation’s most populous state. And so the GOP presidential reality show, California edition, begins.
At first blush, Clark’s late hiring smells like the West Coast version of the improvisational, cult-of-personality campaign that Trump has been running — and winning with — elsewhere. He’s ahead in California polls, too.
While Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign has been busy for months recruiting and vetting three delegates — and alternates — that every California congressional district gets in the GOP primary, the campaigns of Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich have been — well, let’s just say they’re not as far along.
But Clark is a well-respected Sacramento political operative who has run statewide campaigns over the past two decades, including for Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, a rising star in the California GOP. He’s thrifty and sharp, too. Last year, Clark spent only $200,000 to help John Moorlach win an Orange County state Senate seat over an opponent who spent roughly four times that much.
What’s initially jarring is that Clark is as relentlessly sunny and positive as Trump is apocalyptic. During our conversation Clark didn’t rip anybody as a loser, a liar or low-energy. But he does share Trump’s penchant for thinking and talking big. Crazy big.
“My directive is clear,” Clark said. “There are 53 congressional districts in the state. I have to deliver a comprehensive plan to deliver (all of California’s) 172 delegates.
“I’ve looked at it, and I’ve analyzed it,” Clark said. “And I think it’s an achievable bar.”
To put that into perspective, sweeping California would mean that Trump would have to win the Republican primary popular vote in both Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco district and Rep. Barbara Lee’s Oakland district. Good luck with that. Some Republicans who live here would be run out of Bakersfield as socialists.
“Most statewide campaigns would be happy to get 200 volunteers,” Clark told me. “We could have 10,000.”
Where are these people?
Clark said Trump’s people are on Facebook. They’ve been commiserating — communicating — for months, a loose network of online Trump fan clubs, some openly talking on social media, some chatting in tightly monitored chat rooms. They’ve just been waiting for someone to stitch them together and, in many cases, to show them how to register as Republicans before the May 23 deadline.
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