One of Donald Trump’s favorite pastors is laying the groundwork for a potential congressional run in Ohio—and he wants to do it on an exclusively pro-Trump platform.
For months, Darrell Scott, a 58-year-old, Cleveland-area pastor and alumnus of Trump’s presidential transition team, has been mulling a primary challenge to Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) in the upcoming midterms. Recently, however, he has made more serious strides, rather than merely toying with the idea.
Scott says he still texts with Steve Bannon, Trump’s former top strategist, about a potential run, and that Fox News host Sean Hannity, whom he calls his good “buddy,” has shown an interest in him running. The pastor said he had a private, two-hour meeting with Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s one-time campaign manager, last week to discuss his political ambitions. He’s talked to members of the RNC and the Ohio GOP to take their temperature on his possible candidacy. Scott has also been attempting to line up potential donors and high-profile endorsers should he decide to challenge Joyce, whom he calls “anti-Trump” and “Do Nothin’ Dave.”
Scott told The Daily Beast that he already has the support of several members of President Trump’s family, and that his “main motivation” to run would be that “the president needs more support in Congress.” In fact, if he were to win election, he said he would stop serving in Congress once Trump left his office too.
“When [Trump’s] out, I’m out,” Scott said. “We need more Trump guys in Congress, and I’m a Trump guy.”
Scott’s plotting of a potential campaign comes at a time when the GOP is at a psychological crossroads over the direction its candidates should take in the 2018 midterms. Scott embodies one distinct avenue: an unapologetic, unabashedly Trumpian approach. But after the losses the Republican Party endured in last week’s elections—especially in Virginia where gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie tanked after tearing pages out of the Trump political playbook—the party has begun wrestling with whether to place a large bet on Trumpism’s future.
As Scott would tell it, they’d be insane not to.
Last week, Scott was in Washington, D.C., meeting with Trump-world luminaries at an election night anniversary party at Trump International Hotel. As an early booster of Trump he was an outlier in African-American communities. But at the hotel, he was right at home. He mingled in a crowd that included former campaign hands Lewandowski, David Bossie, Michael Caputo, and Katrina Pierson. Scott was also spotted chatting with the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., now a central figure in the Trump-Russia mess.
“Darrell, love Darrell,” Trump Jr. told The Daily Beast.
During the party, Scott was gregarious. He opened up the excesses of his teenage years, before he found God, when his narcotic of choice was cocaine and he “drank more by the time I was 16 than you, [The Daily Beast reporter] will in your whole life.”
Scott posed for photos at the event, which were subsequently posted on the Facebook page of the National Diversity Coalition for Trump, a group he leads. And he was, at times, a bit more candid than he intended to be.
“I’m running for Congress!” he proclaimed when approached by The Daily Beast outside of the hotel. He and his would-be campaign manager—Stow, Ohio, city councilman Matt Riehl—later walked that back. He’s considering a run, they insisted, but hasn’t made a decision.
“In making this decision, I still have to talk to people who are more astute in politics than I am,” Scott conceded. “I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to politics with regards to the political machine… But I’m praying on it, and haven’t received an answer to my prayers yet.”
Scott wanted to also emphasize how close he was to the president. When asked if he is planning to campaign for Trump in 2020, he immediately replied, “of course, we’re family, man.” He claimed that during the presidential transition, Trump offered him a job. “I told him no,” he said. “I didn’t give him a chance to offer me a [specific] position. I keep telling people, I’m not a politician. I’m a people-tician.”
Still, that hasn’t stopped Scott from strongly considering a House run, or from pitching in to help the administration in the ways that he can. Scott noted that he was working closely with the White House on an “urban revitalization” plan—“the black people plan,” he jokingly called it—and that he still talks with Trump from time to time even though the president “is busy these days.” Soon, he may be able to cast votes for Trump’s agenda in addition to pitching in from the outside.
“I plan on making some type of announcement in December, as to whether or not I’m going to do it,” Scott promises.