Clin­ton takes county, Md., but Trump wins na­tion

Lo­cal Repub­li­cans say party is stronger than ever

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­news.com

Two years ago, if any­one had pre­dicted Don­ald Trump (R) to come out of the U.S. Pres­i­den­tial Election over for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton (D), they would likely have been ig­nored.

Even com­ing into the night of the election, most of the coun­try thought Clin­ton would win in a land­slide. And that in­cluded

many Charles County Repub­li­cans at the Greene Tur­tle in La Plata Tues­day evening, who were hope­ful their party would just come out with the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives still un­der Repub­li­can con­trol.

But as the night wore on, their de­spair turned to ju­bi­la­tion. With ev­ery key state Trump won, the smiles on the faces in the room got wider and wider. And by the time the party ended at 11 p.m., the room’s ini­tial skep­ti­cism dis- sipated com­pletely. Then Trump won Florida. “Whoa, I can’t be­lieve this. We’re go­ing to win it,” said Bill Dot­son, chair­man of the Charles County Repub­li­can Cen­tral Com­mit­tee.

Jerry Feith, a Charles County citizen and a Trump ad­vo­cate, said he be­lieved in Trump’s election path all along, but it took ac­tu­ally see­ing the re­sults com­ing in to give the rest of the party con­fi­dence.

Many peo­ple com­plained that Trump had “no heart” and no real base for his cam­paign, Feith said, but the heart and the work was all done by his sup­port­ers.

“They al­ways said he had no ground game. They said he had no shot at win­ning. She was the bet­ter can­di­date. But here we are,” Feith said. “Look around. We’re his ground game. All the peo­ple that came here tonight. All the cam­paign­ers. His sup­port­ers. We’re his heart.”

Dot­son cam­paigned with Kathy Szeliga (R) and her run for re­tir­ing Sen. Bar­bara Mi- kul­ski’s (D-Md.) seat. Ini­tially, he said keep­ing the house was the big­gest thing he was watch­ing for as the night went on. But early on, af­ter Sen. Marco Ru­bio (R-Fla.) held his seat and Repub­li­can Todd Young beat out In­di­ana’s Evan Bayh, Dot- son said it served as a big indi- cation Repub­li­cans would keep the Se­nate.

What he did not ex­pect, Dot- son said, was for Repub­li­cans to win the Se­nate so eas­ily. “And win­ning the se­nate means the path to the pres­i­dency is likely,” Dot­son said, af­ter a few se­nate races were called in Repub­li­can fa­vor.

Szeliga lost her se­nate race to Con­gress­man Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), but Dot­son was still en­cour­aged. Ac­cord­ing to the state board of elec­tions, the race fin­ished with 60 per­cent of the vote go­ing to Van Hollen and just over 36 per­cent go­ing to Szeliga.

De­spite the loss, Dot­son said the en­cour­ag­ing thing about the re­sults were that 36 per­cent of Mary­lan­ders voted Repub­li­can for that race, and that shows “a chang­ing path” to other races in 2018 and 2020.

“For [Szeliga] to hit about 40 per­cent in Mary­land with a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date below 30, she out­per­formed Trump in the state. We started this race with zero name recog­ni­tion. The race isn’t over,” Dot­son said.

At­ti­tudes are chang­ing in Amer­ica and they are chang­ing quickly, Dot­son said. Peo­ple were promised change and have not seen it, he said, so now they are look­ing at other op­tions.

Demo­cratic vot­ers are switch- ing party al­liances across the coun­try, he said, be­cause they are up­set. The house, se­nate and pres­i­dency are all red now. And the need for some­thing new is the big­gest rea­son, Dot­son said.

“These peo­ple, they were an­gry. And this is what you get when you make the Amer­i­can peo­ple an­gry. They turn against you. These peo­ple are hurt­ing,” Dot­son said. “And now the par­ties have turned. Even with a can­di­date like Trump, we’re do­ing well. The party is back.”

STAFF PHOTO BY MICHAEL SYKES II

Bill Dot­son, cen­ter, and Charles County Repub­li­cans look on in ex­cite­ment as a news net­work de­clares Don­ald Trump the win­ner of Florida.

STAFF PHOTO BY MICHAEL SYKES II

Charles County Repub­li­cans hold up a Don­ald Trump sign in sup­port of their can­di­date at the Green Tur­tle in La Plata on election night as he pulled away from for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton.

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