This is a pretty important story. Republicans have a severe “branding” problem. People like me who are very conservative find people like George Will, Karl Rove, Mitt Romney, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, John Boehner and even locally, Patti Alderson, Don Dixon, Cindy Carpenter and many others terribly flat and unable to win contested issues against Democrats. They are what make up the Republican “establishment,” these days and it is their fault that the Republican “brand” has declined, and even failed in most cases. As I’ve discussed before conservatives won’t get everything we need in just one election. There has to be a multiyear plan enacted to repair the massive damage done to the party by Republicans moving left of center to attract new voters. And just for the record, Ronald Reagan was not conservative enough for me. He is not the benchmark of conservativism as far as I’m concerned. When Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz say they want to be the new party of Reagan, I cringe. Reagan actually toyed with joining the Communist Party and was a union leader for a time. Only late in life did he learn to speak like a conservative and very late—become one. I liked him-but when it comes to conservatives I am often very let down—because few people are as conservative as I am.
However, in this election I am emphatically supporting Donald Trump. He by far has the most conservative views on the stage currently, and he has a track record of accomplishing things. The fact that many people are making it fashionable to point out things that he has not done so well is laughable. I’d ask to see their track record—which they have nothing to compare to. Trump’s airplane is worth more than most of the critics of him put together. As Trump stated recently, just one of his stores in New York is worth more than Mitt Romney. I’d rather deal with a person who has a thousand failures and two or three blistering successes than a loser who sits on the sidelines and is afraid to do anything because they are the overly timid types. That describes most of the people I know in the Republican Party. Trump brings a lot to the Republican Party—particularly when it comes to “branding.” He also is attracting fence-sitting Democrats—which is exactly what the Republicans need if they really want to “expand” the party. When people say that Trump is not a conservative then where is the anger at actual Democrats like Butler County Commissioner Don Dixon who switched parties to win in a conservative Ohio county—and the many thousands across the nation just like him. Trump is much more conservative than Don Dixon, or the Ohio Central Committee representative Patti Alderson who makes the fundraising efforts of Claire Underwood from the Netflix series House of Cards look like an amateur. (Ann Becker is running against Patti—VOTE FOR ANN on March 15th.) Don’t tell me establishment Republicans are more “Republican” than Donald Trump. Trump is calling himself a Republican in a very liberal part of the country, and that takes guts. And don’t tell me he’s doing damage to the “party.” Read this article out of Youngstown, Ohio. This is where Trump is a lethal weapon for the GOP—if they were smart enough to use it—which they aren’t.
About 1,000 Democrats in Mahoning County so far have switched their party affiliation to Republican with election officials saying several did it to vote for Donald Trump, the GOP presidential front-runner.
“We are seeing something this election cycle I’ve never seen before to this degree,” said board Chairman Mark Munroe, who’s also the county Republican chairman. “Every day I take phone calls or get voice messages from people saying they’ve been Democrats all their life and they’ve had it. They want to vote for Donald Trump. I’m surprised at the volume of inquiries we’re getting. It’s remarkable.”
A number of Democrats taking a Republican ballot when voting early at the board “say they want to vote for Trump,” said Joyce Kale-Pesta, Mahoning County Board of Elections director.
About 7,000 Mahoning County voters have cast early votes. Early voting started Feb. 17 and ends March 14, the day before the primary.
Of those 7,000, about 14 percent were Democrats who voted Republican, Kale-Pesta said. That’s about 1,000 so far.
The percentage of Democrats switching parties will grow even more, said board Vice Chairman David Betras, who also is the county Democratic chairman.
And it doesn’t concern Betras.
“I knew Donald Trump’s message would resonate with blue-collar Democrats,” he said. “But once they learn about his record – besides him being anti-trade – they will change their minds in the general election. I assure you that come the general election, voters will vote our way once we tell the story of Donald Trump. The more chaos created in the Republican primary, the better Democrats will do in the general election.”
Betras, who backs Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, said it “would make me happy for Donald Trump to beat John Kasich,” the Ohio governor running for president as a Republican.
About 5 percent of Republicans – 350 voters – cast Democrat ballots of those who’ve voted so far, said Chris Rakocy, the board’s information technology manager.
Munroe, who supports Kasich, said that if the governor isn’t the Republican presidential nominee, “I’ll be glad to support whoever is our nominee.”
When asked about Trump’s various controversial statements, Munroe said, “Should Trump be the nominee, he’ll have plenty of time to rehabilitate himself.”
Trump is the reason turnout will be higher than normal for this primary, Munroe said.
“We’re seeing this all over the country; the Republican vote is way up and it’s because of Trump,” he said. “Now, it’s happening in the Valley. Whatever you think of Trump, you can’t take away his ability to energize the electorate.”
There are 161,009 registered voters in the county, including 40,958 Democrats and 14,663 Republicans. The rest are independents, who don’t vote in primaries, with a tiny number affiliated with third parties such as Green and Libertarian.
In Ohio, party affiliation is basely solely on voting in a primary, Munroe said.
“All you have to do is tell a poll worker that you want to vote for a certain party in the primary and that becomes your affiliation,” he said.
Election officials in Trumbull and Columbiana counties say they aren’t keeping track of how many voters are changing party affiliations.
“But we’ve had some people say, ‘I want to switch to the Trump party,” said Stephanie Penrose, Trumbull County’s elections board director.
“There are a lot of Democrats switching over,” said Kim Meeks, Columbiana County’s elections board deputy director. “We see a trend, but we won’t know details until after the primary.”
Let that simmer for a bit and think of what that could do for the GOP. Think about California come November 2016, or New York. Tell me there is another Republican in the party today who could win in these places. The answer of course is that there isn’t. Ted Cruz won’t. And nobody else will either.
Rich “Cliffhanger” Hoffman
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