The Wingnut Who Wants Warren

A right-wing folk hero is being created in real time.

It will not matter that this fellow was, for a time, “anti-Trump.” He will fall in line and obey now, just like right-wingers always do. In return, he will be showered with hosannas and donations, feted by Fox and blessed by Breitbart.

Who is the right wing’s new king?

John Kingston, a wealthy businessman, philanthropist, and major Republican donor, has emerged as a serious potential candidate for the GOP nomination to oppose incumbent Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren.

For the past several weeks, Kingston, 51, has been meeting with the state’s top Republicans, including political aides to Governor Charlie Baker, state party leaders, and major GOP donors as he explore a candidacy.

“I think he is moving down the path in doing it,’’ said one senior Massachusetts GOP leader who met with Kingston this week.

We are supposed to believe that Kingston will have difficulty winning over Trumpsters in a Senate primary because he had misgivings about the bigoted billionaire last year:

But Kingston could face opposition from the party’s conservative Tea Party wing. As Donald Trump prepared to accept the GOP presidential nomination last June, Kingston switched his party registration from Republican to unenrolled and led an effort to create a movement to field an independent candidate in the presidential election.

The self-described “non-partisan initiative” never evolved into a serious political effort, but it reflected the anti-Trump politics of Kingston’s political mentor, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who was a sharp Trump critic last year. Baker, too, refused to endorse Trump. Those moves against the party’s nominee stirred anger among Trump supporters in the state.

Don’t believe for a moment that Trump acolytes won’t get behind Kingston as the best chance to defeat Warren, for years a top hate-target of the right. These folks will get in bed with anybody who can beat a perceived enemy.

If he wins the primary, Kingston will try to trick the Bay State’s general-election voters into believing that he is a “centrist” Republican, just as Baker did in his 2014 gubernatorial campaign. Of course, Kingston’s track record suggests otherwise:

A Harvard Law School graduate who made a fortune with the global investment management firm Affiliated Managers Group in Beverly, Kingston has never run for office in the past. But he has been active in recent years donating and raising money, particularly for Romney’s presidential campaigns.

Since leaving AMG, Kingston has also been involved in promoting Christian faith groups, sitting on the board of The Veritas Forum and founding the Sword & Spoon Foundation and SixSeeds, two organizations that promote religious values. He also served as vice chairman of the National Faith and Values Steering Committee for Romney’s 2008 presidential candidacy.

He serves on the board of the Pioneer Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank in Boston. And he has been a member of the National Republican Senatorial Committee Majority Makers and the Republican Governors Association Executive Roundtable.

Kingston has for the past decade showered Republicans across the country — from Kentucky to Texas to Ohio — with more than $100,000 in donations.

If you’re donating to the likes of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, you’re no “centrist.” However, progressives should pay very close attention to this race, and not blithely assume that Kingston cannot win the general election if he obtains the Republican nomination. Scott Brown (and Donald Trump) proved that flukes can happen–and it is a guarantee that the right will do everything in its considerable power to remove Warren from the Senate. The right feels the same way about Warren that the left feels about Trump–and wingnuts will regard Kingston as their best chance to terminate Warren’s political career with extreme prejudice.

Warren has proven to be a key part of the anti-Trump resistance. Will she be able to resist this crackpot challenger? We’ll find out soon enough.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.