GOP governors up for reelection discuss how to manage Trump on the campaign trail

GOP governors up for reelection discuss how to manage Trump on the campaign trail
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Republican governors up for reelection in 2018 are reportedly grappling with how to manage their connections to President Trump during the contests, and whether they should keep him away from the campaign trail.

The governors have discussed strategies to avoid Trump on the trail, and have even gone directly to Vice President Pence to voice their concerns about the White House intervening in races, according to a report from The New York Times.

The 2018 races are critical to both parties because the governors who are elected could play a significant role in redrawing legislative boundaries after 2020. 

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Republican governors are reportedly concerned by Trump's increasingly low approval ratings with voters, and the strength and unity of opposition voters in the Democratic Party. 

This opposition was most recently seen in gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia earlier this month. Both states went to Democratic candidates.

New Jersey Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Murphy beat out the state's Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R) in that state's governor's race, putting an end to eight years of Republican control in New Jersey's governor's mansion. 

Virginia Lt. Gov Ralph Northam (D) defeated Republican Ed Gillespie by a large margin in the commonwealth's gubernatorial race, securing Democratic control in Virginia's governor's mansion. 

While Gillespie embraced various parts of Trump's platform, such as immigration, he largely avoided being seen with the president on the campaign trail, something on which the president blamed Gillespie's loss. 

Various Republican governors have taken note of what many see as Gillespie's mistake. 

“You can’t be halfway in and halfway out,” Gov. Phil Bryant (R-Miss.), who is a Trump supporter, told The Times. 

“If you try to wear somebody else’s clothes, they never fit,” Gov. Bill Haslam (R-Tenn.) said.

Haslam went on to say that Republicans should be wary in the year ahead due to the party's major loss in Virginia. 

“I do think Virginia was a wake-up call,” Haslam, who is the chairman of the governors association, told The Times. “There’s a pretty strong message there. When Republicans lose white married women, that’s a strong message.”

However, not all Republican governors were as pessimistic about Trump. 

Gov. Paul LePage (R-Maine.), who is an ardent Trump ally, said governors should "absolutely" hit the campaign trail with Trump because "he is the leader of our country, and we should respect our leader.”