Maybe he is the Republican candidate we need to hold Donald Trump to account.
By this autumn, this 39-year-old mid-Atlantic oil executive will join the crowded field of the GOP’s unlikely candidates to take on the floundering star of the Donald Trump phenomenon in the presidential election.
Whether he is ready is up to him. That he is is real.
When Durr crossed over from Democrat to Republican 18 months ago, he found himself in a political party that looked more like America than the one he left.
He was joined by a cornucopia of rich, white men over 50: Rudy Giuliani, Colin Powell, Bob Dole, Chuck Hagel, John Kasich. John McCain, who just got in the race. They would largely throw up their hands at the need to take on Clinton or Trump and move on to the issues.
At that time, Democrats touted Obama’s inclusive spirit to stop an “identity politics” running from the party.
Republicans, led by Trump, followed with a performance unrivaled in polling history: identity politics, isolation, false promises, a populist cheerleading of big business. These last two identities, the establishment and the rich, are a theme similar to Durr’s struggle for more dignity and self-worth in a society that has the opposite goals in mind.
But don’t let the anonymous state-level Republican governor of New Jersey get your hopes up: “He’s rising through the ranks,” says Randy Mastro, the lawyer for Trump Tower and a Trump campaign adviser, of Durr.
Durr has no illusions about Trump. He began advocating for Trump-style change in 2008 and saw former employees of Mobil destroy his chances of reform by refusing to work with him.
Now he has his own staffers who are trying to make him a bigger deal than ever.
When I wrote on his experiences, Durr answered that he is Republican, but America has to make things better. “We need leadership that cares about our families, rather than being ruled by the corporate and financial elite. We are an America that was meant to govern itself.”
More than the GOP, Durr is interested in Trump: “Will he be the right type of leader to lead us back to greatness?” he writes in an email to me. “Right now, even if he represents the opposite of what the Trumpsters are saying, you cannot vote for him, but I don’t see how he can be elected as a Republican. But not as president.”