Jeff Jardine

Party favors: Olsen, others in GOP rip Trump but won’t count out voting for him

A campaign sign for Republican nominee Donald Trump and VP nominee Mike Pence hangs from a crane at the corner of Albers and Milnes roads east of Modesto. Signs for Rep. Jeff Denham and another promoting Oakdale Irrigation District accompany it on the northwest corner of the intersection. The property is farmed by John Brichetto of Oakdale.
A campaign sign for Republican nominee Donald Trump and VP nominee Mike Pence hangs from a crane at the corner of Albers and Milnes roads east of Modesto. Signs for Rep. Jeff Denham and another promoting Oakdale Irrigation District accompany it on the northwest corner of the intersection. The property is farmed by John Brichetto of Oakdale. jjardine@modbee.com

So the Republican presidential nominee who has been called repugnant, obnoxious, misogynistic, foul-mouthed, sexist and racist – some might consider those among his better qualities – is losing support from some of the party’s highest-ranking officials.

The Bee’s Ken Carlson recently polled some local Republicans to see where they stand on Donald Trump, a candidate who is a cult hero to some and toxic sludge to others. His opponent is Hillary Clinton, a Democrat they’ve been bashing for so long it has become a way of life but suddenly might not be looking so bad to some longtime members of the GOP.

What to do, oh, what to do when filling out the by-mail ballot or when they step into the voting booth at an actual, real, old-style polling place?

Some, like county supervisors and GOP loyalists Jim DeMartini and Dick Monteith, make no apologies for supporting Trump, which is apt because Trump makes no sincere apologies for his behavior, inaccuracies or insults throughout the campaign.

The relationship between Congressman Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, and Trump has been ridiculed and vilified in campaign ads by his opponent, Democrat Michael Eggman, but Denham has yet to say whether he’ll abandon or continue to support Trump.

Others, like Stanislaus Supervisor Terry Withrow, won’t vote for Clinton under any circumstances, but won’t say for whom they’ll vote. Meanwhile, Supervisor Bill O’Brien won’t vote for Trump – but wouldn’t say who he’d vote for, either.

Now, add outgoing State 12th District Assembly member and soon-to-be District 1 Supervisor Kristin Olsen to the list of “No on Hillary” folks. But Olsen won’t say who she will vote for. As Republican minority leader in the Assembly last year, Olsen slammed Trump during the primaries as being “intolerable and inexcusable … somebody who has never been active in the part and is looking for his 15 minutes of fame.”

That was then. “I don’t think anyone a year ago anticipated that this would be the possible outcome (Trump as the GOP nominee),” she said.

And now that he’s the nominee and some among the GOP are reacting like he’s their version of the herpes virus? Olsen refuses to support him, but said she won’t vote for Clinton under any circumstances. She won’t publicly say which box she’ll check on the ballot. More surprising, Olsen said she doesn’t think her vote will matter in the presidential election because California traditionally doesn’t back Republican presidential candidates. Normally, politicians insist that every vote counts. Not for her this time around, though it should.

“In California, it’s a matter of whether Donald Trump loses by 10 points or 30,” Olsen told me Wednesday.

In fact, when he became the nominee, she said she shifted her entire focus to where she could potentially make an impact.

“I’ve put all my energies into getting more Republicans into the Legislature,” Olsen said. “It’s very significantly one-sided for the president of the United States, and we need to have a healthier balance in this state. Hillary Clinton is going to win the state of California, not because she’s the best candidate but she’s the Democrat on the ticket.”

That is a non-answer to the question: “Who will get your vote for president?” Is it important for partisan politicians to declare beforehand in a presidential race?

True, an individual’s vote is a personal matter. But when they are public decision makers and leaders, shouldn’t they make their decisions public? Shouldn’t they be secure in who they are and who they want to run the country?

In their own campaigns, they value endorsements and brag about them. Yet when it comes to presidential candidates they can’t endorse one?

In this election, that might be a subtle way of saying they really can’t stomach Trump as the GOP candidate, let alone as president, but are afraid to publicly buck the party line.

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