Supporters of Donald Trump in Montgomery County contend there is a large silent support base for the Republican presidential nominee in the traditionally liberal county.
While many assume that an outspoken Republican candidate like Trump would draw only ire from most residents in the staunchly Democratic Montgomery County, supporters of Trump say that a surprising number of County residents are receptive to his message.
“I assumed he was not very popular in Montgomery County, but it’s incredible the amount of people coming out of the woodwork,” said Dan McHugh a volunteer with Trump Montgomery.
McHugh said Trump is a polarizing figure in the County saying that he saw a surprising amount of support for the candidate at the Republican booth at the County fair, but also an unprecedented level of hatred for the Republican nominee by many residents.
McHugh said when he and other Trump supporters went to put up campaign signs on MD-355, many of the responses from drivers were obscene.
“We had a lot of angry liberals in BMWs flipping us off,” McHugh said.
McHugh, who was originally a John Kasich supporter in the Republican primary said that Trump’s candidacy is a mixed bag. McHugh said that Trump’s rhetoric has drawn new supporters to the Republican Party, but also put off some independent and Democratic-leaning voters from Republican down-ballot candidates.
“He has been to me the heart attack candidate,” McHugh said. “There are been times I’ve been happy with him, there are times when I wanted to strangle him and there are time I don’t know what to think.”
McHugh said that there has been a surprising amount of new people that have shown support by coming to the Republican booth at the county fair or to the Montgomery County Republican headquarters asking for Trump gear. However, that support has also made it harder for McHugh as he campaigns for other Republicans such as Kathy Szeliga and Dan Cox on this November’s ballot.
“You try to sell Dan Cox, and they want to talk Trump,” McHugh said.
While McHugh was a late backer of Trump, Jerry Cave has been on the Trump bandwagon since February.
Cave, a volunteer for the Trump campaign and a communications and marketing specialist from Bethesda, said Trump’s unapologetic style and strong rhetoric is what appealed to him about Trump.
“Trump is outrageous and his speaking style is objectionable to some people, especially some women…but that’s the price he has to pay for people to actually hear his message from him and not to be mischaracterized from the media.”
Cave who backed Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election said he likes how Trump, unlike Romney, can successfully push back against the media likening him to popular radio shock-jock Howard Stern.
“When I was a kid…on television you had to be super nice and well-liked,” Cave said. “In the last 30 years in broadcasting you have to be polarizing. You have to be as well-liked as disliked…Trump does that, Stern does that.”
Politicians from the County and state have largely condemned Trump. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD-8), who is running for Maryland’s open Senate seat has focused much of his campaign rhetoric on the Republican nominee for president. Additionally, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan said he does not plan to vote for his party’s nominee and skipped July’s Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland.
Cave said he is not concerned about Hogan not endorsing Trump.
“He was trying to not comment and stay out of the race which is what he should do, that race has nothing to do with Larry Hogan,” Cave said.
Alirio Martinez of Germantown said he voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, but after started listening to conservative talk radio hosts like Michael Savage, he realized Republicans better represent his values on religion and hard work.
“He’s an outsider, that’s why so many people like him,” said Martinez who served as Trump delegate at the RNC.
Martinez, an immigrant from El Salvador, said though many people have criticized Trump for anti-immigrant rhetoric, he said Trump’s immigration positions are not racist.
“I tell people he’s not going to deport everybody…he’s just going to start deporting the criminals,” Martinez said.
For Silver Spring criminal defense attorney Bill Hale, support for Donald Trump is about being against the Republican establishment.
Hale said he became disenchanted with Republicans in Congress not following through on repealing the Affordable Care Act or taking a stand on immigration,
Hale called himself a “tea party” guy and said he thinks Trump is the best candidate to take on the Republican establishment
“Trump people want their country back, I like Trump because he’s not one of the boys. If he proves to be one of the boys I will turn on him like he’s a rattlesnake,” Hale said.