When a candidate is running for office, they need to build a broad coalition if they hope to have any chance at victory come election day.
They need to find people excited about their campaign and their issues, and bring them on board. Then they need to find new and innovative ways to expand their reach and their support with enough people to ensure victory at the ballot box.
A candidate’s family can often play a significant role in their campaign strategy. Many candidate’s significant others have their own social accounts. Even more sign-off on emails to raise money for the campaign and help get out the vote. Children and grandchildren often play an integral part in a candidate’s personal story and social media program.
Husbands and wives attend events and give interviews helping voters get to know the “real” person behind the campaign.
Families — in a word — humanize.
While I personally don’t think it should matter if a Presidential candidate is married, we have seen numerous candidates forced to deal with their bachelorhood over the last few years. Just since 2020, we’ve seen Cory Booker, Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott all have to navigate being unmarried during their Presidential runs. Some handled it better than others.
While a candidate’s family can sometimes serve as a source of complication, and even embarrassment (I can think of loads of siblings, children and spouses on both sides of the aisle whose personal baggage bled over into the campaign), more often than not, family can add a ton of value when running a political campaign.
But today, let’s take a look at a few campaigns where families didn’t just not help the campaign, but actively worked against their familial candidate.
I was inspired to write this post because of the wide berth of opposition to RFK Jr. from… pretty much his entire family.
So let’s start there.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — Democratic Turned Independent Candidate for President, 2024
And let’s be honest, it’s a hell of a name!
But to say he doesn’t have the support of his family would be an understatement!
Here are his four siblings weighing in on RFK Jr’s candidacy:
“The decision of our brother Bobby to run as a third party candidate against Joe Biden is dangerous to our country. Bobby might share the same name as our father, but he does not share the same values, vision or judgment. Today’s announcement is deeply saddening for us. We denounce his candidacy and believe it to be perilous for our country.”
His family biographer Laurence Leamer (imagine having a family biographer!) went on the record to share that “most of the Kennedys are disgusted with his attitude. They still care about him, but he’s an embarrassment.”
That quote was specifically about his anti-vaccine activism, but it’s hard to draw much of a distinction between that longtime activism and his current presidential run.
Most of the rest of his family doesn’t seem to disagree with that take.
“Several of Kennedy’s siblings and relatives are openly backing President Joe Biden for a second term. Three of them are diplomats for his administration. Just a smattering of his children and grandchildren showed up for his launch.”
Robert F Kennedy Jr. will most certainly not be President. He might help Donald Trump retake the Presidency (though after months of supporting his Democratic campaign in the hopes of embarrassing President Joe Biden, Republicans are now growing increasingly concerned that RFK as an independent might actually hurt Trump’s election – lolz).
But whatever happens, this entire campaign is completely and totally against the wishes — and without the support — of the majority of his iconic family.
Paul Gosar — Arizona Congressional Races, 2018, 2020 and 2022
And with good reason!
He’s a white nationalist and a conspiracy theorist.
But none of his opponents have been more vocal or more persistent than his 6 siblings.
They have recorded videos asking his district not to vote for him.
They have openly endorsed his primary opponents.
One called him a “traitor to this county” and sought to have him removed from office.
“I consider him a traitor to this country. I consider him a traitor to his family… He’s disgraced and dishonored himself.”
Must make for awkward holiday gatherings!
Kevin Nicholson – Wisconsin Senate Candidate, 2018
He’s run for a bunch of statewide offices in Wisconsin. And when he’s not running for statewide office in Wisconsin, there’s often speculation that he might run for statewide offices in Wisconsin.
Side note: He once sold my email address to someone who sold it to someone else who was openly advocating against him in a primary. That’s a fun story, which I told here.
But that publication wasn’t the only one who didn’t support his 2018 candidacy for the Wisconsin Senate against sitting Senator Tammy Baldwin.
During that campaign, his parents, Michael and Donna Nicholson, both maxed out contributions to Tammy Baldwin’s re-election campaign for the US Senate seat to represent Wisconsin in Washington, DC.
In the words of Joshua Karl, a spokesman for American Bridge, “even his parents can’t hold their nose and support this guy — and that tells you everything you need to know about him.”
Donald Trump — 45th President of the United States and Current Presidential Candidate (shudder)
Mary Trump, Donald’s niece, has been extremely vocal in her opposition to him serving as Commander in Chief.
Mary, a clinical psychologist, actually authored a book that was sharply critical of her uncle, painting a portrait of a deeply flawed leader shaped by a dysfunctional family.
Her public stance included interviews and op-eds where she didn’t hold back in criticizing Trump’s capabilities or his character.
And to say she didn’t hold back would be an understatement. In her blistering takedown of Donald, in her book titled “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” she referred to him outright as a sociopath.
She wrote that, “for some of the Trump kids, lying was a way of life.”
Here are a few more gems from the book:
“Donald today is much as he was at three years old: incapable of growing, learning, or evolving, unable to regulate his emotions, moderate his responses, or take in and synthesize information.”
“He had all the confidence of a bully who knows he’s always going to get what he wants and never has to fight for it.”
“The simple fact is that Donald is fundamentally incapable of acknowledging the suffering of others. Telling the stories of those we’ve lost would bore him. Acknowledging the victims of COVID-19 would be to associate himself with their weakness, a trait his father taught him to despise… Perhaps most crucially, for Donald there is no value in empathy, no tangible upside to caring for other people. David Corn wrote, ‘Everything is transactional for this poor broken human being. Everything.’ It is an epic tragedy of parental failure that my uncle does not understand that he or anybody else has intrinsic worth.”
Mary was so afraid of Donald winning re-election (in 2020) that she secretly recorded and released audio of Donald’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry.
While his sister, at the time a sitting federal judge, never came forward to share her opinions on her brother Donald publicly, the conversations recorded by Mary were damning to say the least.
She said he had “no principles” and that “you can’t trust him.”
She also shared that “he doesn’t read” and he paid a friend to take the SATs for him (a real business genius!).
Stephen Miller — Senior Advisor in the Trump Administration
Stephen Miller did run for office.
In high school.
He was disgusting and abhorrent even then.
He ran on a platform of why should I have to clean up after myself, when the school pays people to do that for us?!
Here’s the actual quote:
“Am I the only one who is sick and tired of being told to pick up my trash when we have plenty of janitors who are paid to do it for us?!”
He was promptly booed off the stage by over 4000 of his fellow classmates.
In the time since, he hasn’t gotten more likable.
Not even a little bit.
He’s a ghoul, who seems to exist for the sole purpose of abusing children, destroying the planet and making libs cry… or whatever.
But while many people actively dislike the guy, the most cutting criticism he faced during his time in the spotlight came from his uncle David Glosser.
Now, this critique came not when he was running for Student Body President of his HS, but rather during his work with the Trump administration. But I think it’s still fair game for this roundup.
Glosser publicly denounced Miller’s policies in a scathing op-ed titled:
Stephen Miller Is an Immigration Hypocrite. I Know Because I’m His Uncle.
If my nephew’s ideas on immigration had been in force a century ago, our family would have been wiped out.
“I have watched with dismay and increasing horror as my nephew… has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family’s life in this country.”
The entire op-ed is worth a read. It’s a stark reminder that so many of us benefitted from America’s progressive immigration policies for so long.
People like Stephen Miller, who want to shut the door behind them, simply don’t understand what actually makes America great. And they forget their own family story that brought them to this wonderful nation in the first place.
Quotes Like These Must Make For Awkward Thanksgivings
We all have family we don’t agree with politically.
But your family has to truly loathe you — or at the least, think you’re extremely dangerous — for them to come out publicly against you and your campaign for elected office.
While those Thanksgivings might be awkward, I’d personally love to see some of that drama play out for Stephen Miller.
If nothing else, it would be fun to see what happens when his family makes him clean up after himself following dinner. 😉
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