I don't mean that Kim Davis is going to run for president -- not this year, in any case -- but, like Trump, she could help brand the GOP in a way it doesn't want to be branded.
Kim Davis May Be The New Donald Trump
Credit: Ty Wright/Getty Images
September 3, 2015

I don't mean that Kim Davis is going to run for president -- not this year, in any case -- but, like Trump, she could help brand the GOP in a way it doesn't want to be branded:

ASHLAND, Ky. -- A federal judge here on Thursday ordered a Kentucky clerk jailed for contempt of court because of her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The clerk, Kim Davis of Rowan County, was ordered incarcerated after a hearing here before Judge David L. Bunning of Federal District Court. The contempt finding was another legal defeat for Ms. Davis, who has argued that she should not be forced to issue licenses that conflict with her religious beliefs....

Judge Bunning said Ms. Davis would be released once she agreed to comply with his order and issue the marriage licenses.

In the way that Trump now seems to be branding the GOP as a party that hates immigrants (and Hispanics in general), Davis seems to be compelling the Republican presidential field to choose sides regarding her case. So far, only two of the Republican candidates believe Davis should either follow the law or resign: Lindsey Graham and Carly Fiorina. (Watch this grind Fiorina's recent poll momentum to a halt.) Now, you'd expect Christian rightists Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, and Ted Cruz to back Davis, but so are Rand Paul, Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio -- a supposed libertarian who's believed to have a youth following and two people widely regarded as moderates. (Rubio is widely regarded as a very electable moderate.)

Is this going to leave a mark on the party? It depends on how long the story is in the news. It's quite possible she'll resign, announce her book deal, and go on the talk-radio and lecture circuit. (We know she's going to do that eventually, as Dan Savage has noted -- though I believe her gay-hate is sincere, so I don't think money is her sole motive.) But if this drags on, it could be a litmus-test issue for Republicans, especially in states where Christian rightists make up a large percentage of the primary/caucus electorate -- Iowa, South Carolina, and all the other Southern states.

The GOP limited the number of primary-season debates in order to prevent candidates from pushing one another to the right in ways that might make them unelectable in November 2016. On immigration, however, Trump doesn't need debates to push the candidates rightward. And Kim Davis may push the candidates to the right without being a politician.

I should add, however, that the mainstream press is endlessly willing to forgive GOP excesses. If the Trump and Davis moments pass and the party nominates someone who can be passed off as right-centrist, all this will probably be flushed down the memory hole. So we'll have to see how it all plays out.

Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog

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