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GOP Donor On Paul Ryan's Retirement


The number of House Republicans choosing not to run for re-election hit record levels this year. Thirty-nine have said they're leaving the House, the latest, of course, being Speaker Paul Ryan. Ryan's decision has shaken the party right down to its pocketbook. Dan Eberhart is the CEO of Canary, LLC, which provides oilfield services. He's also been a major donor to the Republican Party. Mr. Eberhart, thank you so much for joining us.

DAN EBERHART: Thank you for having me.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So does Ryan's departure signal that the House is lost for Republicans?

EBERHART: I think at the moment it signals that it's not looking good. I think his departure is just one of many, and I think that there's an uphill climb until November. But there's still plenty of time on the clock for us to put up legislative wins and change the prognosis for the November elections.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Are you turning towards the Senate with your money?

EBERHART: I've been turning towards the Senate for a while now, actually, and I think it's extremely important, given the confirmation battle is yet to come and potentially openings on the Supreme Court. I also think, you know, if the election were held today, I think the Republicans would pick up two to five seats in the Senate. So I think there's a lot of opportunity and a lot of room for upward momentum there.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'd like to have your take on a particular issue. You know, many Republicans leaving the party are moderates, or they're leaving because they are not on the Trump train. Does it concern you that certain Republicans feel left out of the party, that there is this division that seems to be happening within the Republican Party?

EBERHART: Well, that does concern me, but I think there's always going to be differences. One thing that I think might make a lot of sense here for the Republican Party is that, you know, Ryan has obviously had his distance and his issues with Trump. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Donald Trump are way more in sync. And I think that could be good for, you know, getting policy changes through the House and could be good for putting the Republicans more in sync going into the midterms.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But President Trump is facing a lot of legal scrutiny right now. He is viewed by the majority of Americans as being a difficult candidate. He is very divisive. How does that figure into your calculations about how to approach the midterms?

EBERHART: I think what the American people can see is a leader that is focused on getting things done for them, that's not beholden to special interests and not afraid to have policy prescriptions that are a little bit outside the box or outside the bandwidth of a typical, you know, Washington, D.C., swamp-era Republican or Democrat.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We've seen Republicans try to send that message to the voting public, and they haven't fared so well in places like Pennsylvania 18, where Conor Lamb, the Democrat, won in a place where Trump did overwhelmingly well in 2016. Does that not suggest that that's going to be a tough sell?

EBERHART: I think the media has actually got the story wrong in the midterm elections. I think that there's really a lot of room here for a Trump surprise in the midterm elections. There's all this talk of the blue wave and these formulaic articles about how the president's party typically loses about 23 seats, blah, blah, blah, and there's 24 seats needed to turn the House. I think all of that's true, but I think we're in unprecedented times. All of this data show - in the past, backward-looking post-World War II - shows a president's popularity in sync with what's going on in the economy, and there's an absolute divergence here.

Trump's approval rating has been going up a little bit recently. It's below where a lot of presidents have been at this point in the cycle, but the economy is roaring, is doing great right now. We've got very high consumer confidence. We've got a 17 year low in unemployment, great GDP growth at 3 percent. So I think there's really room here for a Trump surprise, and this blue wave may not actually materialize because of the divergence in how the economy is doing versus the typical metrics used to measure how a midterm election will fare.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Dan Eberhart, CEO of Canary LLC. Thank you so much.

EBERHART: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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