- The Washington Times - Monday, May 16, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The report this weekend that Mark Cuban, entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, was recruited by conservative leaders to run a third-party to challenge against GOP presumed nominee Donald Trump is the most laughable news article in this election cycle (and there have been many).

I mean, how desperate has this small group of #NeverTrumpers become?

Mitt Romney, and conservative commentators William Kristol, Erick Erickson, along with strategists Mike Murphy (responsible for Jeb Bush’s $100 million “shock and awe” campaign) and Stuart Stevens (advised Mr. Romney’s failed 2012 bid), among others, are trying to plot a third-party bid to thwart Mr. Trump, according to The Washington Post.

They’ve considered Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, former Sen. Tom Coburn, Marine Corps. Gen. James Mattis and among others to take up their mantle.

So far, they’ve all declined.

“The recruiters also delved into the world of reality television for someone who might out-Trump Trump: Mark Cuban,” The Post report said. “Cuban, a cast member on ‘Shark Tank,’ the ABC reality series in which entrepreneurs pitch investors about their business ideas, said his pursuers — he declined to name them — have told him that his ‘bluster and volume, combined with substance and the ability to connect with voters on a more personal basis,’ could make him a winning candidate.”

This is insane for many reasons — the first being that Mr. Cuban himself told The Post, “I don’t see it happening.”

Secondly, these #NeverTrumper’s major concern is Mr. Trump isn’t a true conservative and doesn’t represent their values. Well, it’s unclear whether Mr. Cuban is even a registered Republican.

Last year, Mr. Cuban told the Dallas Morning News: “I would prefer to be a Republican. I want smaller government. I want smarter government. Just like most Republicans. Put aside I disagree with Republicans on most social issues. The Republicans have a much bigger problem that will crush them in every presidential election until this changes. The Republican Party requires that all their presidential candidates conform to consensus. Until things change, I’ll sit in the middle and think for myself. Unlike the Republicans.”

Well then, Mr. Cuban doesn’t even seem willing to play ball with the Republican Party until it changes its stances on issues like abortion and traditional marriage — key tenants of the GOP I thought Mr. Kristol and others held dear to their hearts.

Mr. Cuban also has a volatile temper. He’s raked up more fines sitting on the sidelines of an National Basketball Association game than any other owner. One of the #NeverTrumper’s favorite lines against Mr. Trump is his “temperament” with them questioning out loud if Mr. Trump should trusted with the nation’s nuclear codes.

The Bleacher Report said that since Mr. Cuban became the owner of the Mavericks in 2000, “he has been hit with 19 fines by the NBA, 11 of which were for either interacting with the refs in an inappropriate way or criticizing their ability to make the right calls. In total, these fines amount to $1,840,000. That’s more than three times as much as the next most fined individual in the NBA since 2000 — Micky Arison has been fined twice for $525,000.”

So basically, the #NeverTrump movement is trying to replace one man who they believe is volatile, with another of whom they know is. Smart.

Lastly, Mr. Cuban seems like a second-rate Mr. Trump (no offense to Mr. Cuban) in terms of reality-TV appeal. In 2004, Mr. Cuban tried, unsuccessfully, to launch a reality-show called “The Benefactor,” which was seen by many as a rip-off to Mr. Trump’s “The Apprentice.” It was canceled.

“Shark Tank” has recently improved in ratings, but is featured on a low-viewership Friday night, whereas “The Apprentice” is featured in a prime-time Sunday night slot. Over the years, “The Apprentice” as continually beaten Mr. Cuban’s “Shark Tank” in the ratings game.

Is this last point petty? Probably. But so is the search for a GOP alternative to Mr. Trump.

The voters have spoken — overwhelmingly — and have chosen Mr. Trump to lead Republicans to the White House. Mr. Trump made overtures to the Washington establishment last week and has committed himself to unite the party.

It’s time Mr. Kristol, Mr. Erickson, et al, end their divisive, ego-driven games, or risk total alienation within the Republican Party. With picks like Mr. Cuban, it’s them becoming the punchline, not the other way around.

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