Kasich is No. 1 at local GOP gathering
© by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, August 20 2015


I was raised in a mostly Democratic family in a Democrat factory town, but when I moved to Marblehead in the early 1970s, I was invited as a newcomer to join the Republican Town Committee (RTC). Later, when I started working with Citizens for Limited Taxation , it was members of the RTC who stood at the Marblehead Post Office, the Community Store, the Village Plaza, collecting signatures with me for the initiative petition Proposition 2½.

The campaign got barely enough signatures, so each person’s effort counted toward the eventual victory in November 1980 of the statewide ballot question that still limits our property taxes. Some of my best friends from those early days – longtime RTC Chairman Pat Warnock is always remembered – have passed on, and others are still active.

For various reasons, as I led a non-partisan taxpayer group that lobbied for tax limitation on Beacon Hill, I became an independent, but I’ve always been invited to RTC meetings; the latest was a meet-and-greet picnic last Saturday afternoon at the home of my friend Joyce Lofmark’s son Rolfe, who has just taken over the RTC as chairman.

Local Republicans haven’t been too active in recent years, and Rolfe intends to change that. As his mother’s generation did for me, his existing group is inviting newcomers to join and become part of the excitement of this very political year leading to the 2016 election.

The weather was ominous – we read later in this newspaper about the cloudburst that hit Gloucester the same time we were gathering in a backyard on Leggs Hill Road – but the outdoor event wasn’t interrupted here. After catching up or getting acquainted and eating delicious potluck snacks, we got to the Main Event – a spontaneous straw poll of the Republican presidential candidates.

Joyce’s granddaughter had made a brightly colored poster listing all the candidates; we were each handed a paper ballot with all the names and asked to check one, as if we had to vote that day for president. There were no speeches or campaigning, just a casual effort to get an early sense of support.

Iowa Republicans no longer hold their summer straw poll, so this may be the first one you’ll see listing the choices of grassroots Republican activists (and independents like Chip and me.
There was one vote each for Carly Fiorina and Bobby Jindal. Two for Scott Walker (one of those was Joyce; no secret, she’s had his bumper sticker on her car for weeks).

Jeb Bush got three votes. Oddly, I thought, his name on the poster and ballots was just Jeb, no last name. When I asked about this, I was told he likes it that way. I recall him saying during the Fox News Republican debate that when he was governor of Florida, Floridians just called him Jeb, and “I earned that.”

Not sure what this means, though of course we in Massachusetts had our Bill and our Mitt, so we might understand. However, I have a feeling the use of just “Jeb” is a little more complicated, having to do with family separation issues.

Anyhow, there was an equal number of higher votes for Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, and Chip’s choice, Ted Cruz.

Then, in second place, Donald Trump! And first place, John Kasich.

I voted for Kasich, too. But have to admit that in the past several weeks, my favorites have ranged from Rand Paul to Ted Cruz to Carly Fiorina (just because I’d pay admission to see her debate Hillary; what a brilliant speaker she is. Of course, we’re no longer so sure that Hillary will be the Democratic nominee).

I will also admit to moments – even hours — when I’d decided to vote for Donald Trump, because like so many others, I am so very angry about the direction of our country, and sick of the political correctness that prevents solutions.

You may recall that I didn’t consider Trump a serious candidate at first, but I’ve heard and watched recent interviews with him and been impressed with the suggested solutions that followed his initial, attention-getting, opening salvos.

Just this week he put out his formal position paper on illegal immigration, drafted with the assistance of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), who has been fighting for rational immigration policy for a long time. None of the reasonable reforms have been implemented. None of the politicians who promise these reforms have delivered, or been allowed to deliver by powerful pro-illegal immigration forces including our current president. So I, too, am glad that Trump’s proposal is dramatic enough to get and hold everyone’s attention.

But here’s why I voted for Gov. John Kasich. First, the rational electoral decision that he can help us win Ohio. Then my own recollection of his years in Congress: his ongoing support for the National Taxpayers Union’s Balanced Budget Amendment; his role on actually balancing budgets as part of the Gingrich revolution; his support for welfare reform that actually worked for a few years.

I know that many conservatives are turned off by his support for a path to legality (though not necessarily voting privileges) for some illegal immigrants, and for the creation of Common Core education standards. Many Ohio Republicans didn’t like their governor taking the ObamaCare Medicaid money. I’m hoping his positions evolve on the first two, at least, as he talks with more of us during his campaign.

But in the meantime, I have this story that I heard during his previous run for president; he doesn’t talk about it, but it’s been making the rounds among New Hampshire activists for years. On the campaign trail, he gave a speech at a New Hampshire farm and learned that in all the excitement, the hostess had run over and killed the elderly family dog. He wouldn’t leave for his next event until he and an aide helped bury the pet, and he led a little prayer service for him.

Half of you readers are laughing at me now, and half understand perfectly why I voted for John Kasich, at least at this point in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Barbara Anderson of Marblehead is a weekly Salem News columnist.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

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