Mar-a-Lago Machine: Trump as a Modern-Day Party Boss

Michele Fiore, a Las Vegas city councilwoman, announced her bid for Nevada governor with a theatrically pro-Trump commercial that ran in West Palm Beach. She later switched to the state treasurer’s race, saying in another ad that the Trump team had counseled her to lower her sights.

And in March, a group urging Mr. Trump to rescind his endorsement of Matthew DePerno, a Republican running for attorney general in Michigan, bought an ad attacking Mr. DePerno that ran in West Palm Beach.

Others have used video with even greater precision.

In November, Blake Masters, a Senate candidate in Arizona, put out a public video saying, “I think Trump won in 2020,” the day before he flew to Florida for a Mar-a-Lago fund-raiser, which records show cost his campaign $29,798.70.

Some catch Mr. Trump’s eye on television in between the commercials.

Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin of Idaho appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program last June and sang Mr. Trump’s praises. The next day, he called her.

“It was the coolest thing,” she said, adding she “slipped it in” that she planned to challenge Gov. Brad Little, the incumbent Republican, and asked for Mr. Trump’s support. Soon, she was on a plane to New York for a meeting in Trump Tower. “The thing that I wanted to do is give him a big hug and tell him how much we loved him,” she said. “And that’s the first thing we did.”

Ms. McGeachin said she told Mr. Trump that Mr. Little hadn’t fought hard enough to overturn the 2020 election. In the fall, she pressed her case at Mar-a-Lago, and left with a signed red hat that she wears out on the stump. Soon, Mr. Trump formally endorsed her — though he had only praise for Mr. Little, who had attended a Mar-a-Lago fund-raiser for a Trump-aligned nonprofit just days before.

Ms. McGeachin, who caused a stir recently by taping a speech for a white nationalist gathering, is widely seen as an underdog in the May primary.

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