Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday since 1997.
A circle of familiar Republican players from the Northeast threw in with the blustery Donald Trump once it became clear he’d win the GOP nomination.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Rep. Peter King and big Republican donors Sheldon Adelson and Kenneth Langone boarded the bandwagon with varying degrees of caution.
Reasons include the practical. Christie and Giuliani have already been mentioned for cabinet positions, though clearly nothing is set. There is ideology, too — Adelson and Langone frequently oppose Democrats. And the primary vote in King’s district went “bigly” for Trump, as the candidate might say.
But for some area GOPers, there has to be a dark satisfaction as well in burying the likes of “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz and other right-wingers who would ordinarily reject and condemn their kind as Republicans in Name Only (RINO).
Consider this part of the story the revenge of the RINOs.
The RINO crowd owes nothing to those noninterventionist, libertarian, hard-core Tea Party populists — even if a lot of them, especially in New York, supported Sen. Marco Rubio before surrendering to Trump.
Giuliani’s own ambitions as a presidential candidate ran afoul of GOP critics who noted his abortion-rights acceptance, who said he kept his city a sanctuary for illegal immigration, and who quoted him saying “freedom is about authority.”
Like Giuliani, billionaire Trump is a former Democrat who hails from the metropolitan area.
During multiway Republican debates, Christie clashed with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) nearly the same way Giuliani did in 2008 with the elder Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) by coming off as the steadfast “security” hawk and invoking 9/11.
King, once a Jeb Bush backer, even went through the steps of exploring a presidential run of his own — in the name of stopping the likes of Cruz.
Never mind his prior public criticism of Trump.
Trump’s newfound backers, including some who know him, do have a way of hedging. Langone said on CNBC: “I think he’ll do a hell of a good job. At least I’m hoping.”
The Boston-born Adelson doesn’t seem to be taking it personally that his last candidate, Rubio, was verbally abused by his new candidate, or that Trump suggested in a debate he could be a neutral party in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I’m a Republican, he’s a Republican,” Adelson told reporters Thursday, adding Trump “will be good for Israel.”
One of the first two House committee chairmen to endorse Trump was Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), who survived primary challenges from populist conservatives.
Shuster’s detractors have repeatedly called him a RINO.
Even if they joined Trump’s bandwagon late, these Northeastern Republicans can at least find solace that neither Cruz nor Paul, nor another genuine red-stater, will top their ticket and yammer about “New York values” — whatever that’s worth.