Tuesday’s Treasure Valley vote was a microcosm of the nationwide Republican landscape: a referendum on Donald Trump.
The businessman-turned-presidential-candidate was the favorite among dozens of voters who spoke to Idaho Statesman reporters Tuesday. He was the most vilified, too.
A lot of bluster and a lot of ego. That’s how Elisha Knudsen sums up Trump.
She intended to vote for Ted Cruz. Knudsen, a self-described conservative Christian from Eagle, agrees with Cruz that people’s rights come from God. She likes Cruz’s faith, his straight talk and his belief in limited government: “People really can help themselves,” she said.
Knudsen can’t watch the debates, she said, mostly because of Trump. She doesn’t like Trump’s comments about women. He’s not “a decent human being,” she said.
Terry Albers of Canyon County said he originally favored Trump but voted for Cruz Tuesday because he just couldn’t take Trump’s mouth anymore. “He went over the top,” Albers said.
CONTINGENCIES AND CALCULATIONS
Bob Arnett, of Middleton, was doing mental gymnastics before heading to the polls.
There’s a lot to like about Trump, he said, but a lot to dislike, too. Arnett initially learned toward Marco Rubio, but said he would probably end up voting for Cruz.
Arnett likes Trump’s business success. He knows how to negotiate. But Arnett finds other Trump rhetoric “scary,” such as targeting families of terrorists. In America, “we don’t torture families,” said his wife, Sybil Arnett.
Sybil Arnett planned to join her husband in voting for Cruz. Trump, she said, is childish. And she likes Cruz’s plan get control of federal lands to the states: “The people will take good care of it,” she said.
Scott Gaudette, who lives in Northwest Boise, said he voted for Marco Rubio because Trump is “a little too off the beaten path of where we need to go.” If Rubio doesn’t wins the Republican nomination, Gaudette said, he might vote for Bernie Sanders. He said Hillary Clinton is untrustworthy and he’d never vote for her.
One woman in Eagle said she went to the polls Tuesday just to vote against Trump. She said she’d consider voting for a Democrat if Trump is the Republican nominee.
Trump supporters in Eagle, Nampa, Boise, Star and rural Canyon County gave the same reasons voters across the country have list in explaining why they like him. He’s not a politician. He won’t be beholden to special interests. America could use a president with his business acumen.
Ken Georges, from Star, said Trump is the antidote to cookie-cutter politicians.
“I think if anyone can get in there and tell some guys to ‘get the work done or you are out of here — you’re fired,’ I guess hopefully he can do it.”
Georges doesn’t agree with everything Trump says.
“He’s obviously not that polished a speaker as a politician,” he said. “Most of those guys have grown up in that political arena, so they know how to speak and what words not to use and that’s one of the refreshing things about (Trump).”
Trump’s wall between the United States and Mexico to keep illegal immigrants out resonates with Georges. “It makes no sense to have all the security we have at airports, where we pretty much have to strip down and go through all these inspections, when people can walk across the border willy-nilly.”
Mike Slotemaker of Northwest Boise talked about the growing suspicion among Trump supporters that party leaders will try to wrest the nomination away from him even if he gets the most votes. If that happens, Slotemaker said, he might vote for Hillary Clinton. “I would go with the devil that we know,” he said.
If Trump runs as a third-party candidate, Slotemaker would vote for him.
Lynn Frothinger of Eagle said she’d have to see the general election ballot before deciding who to back if Trump isn’t Republicans’ choice.
LOYALTY TO THE GOP
Plenty of voters said they’d back the Republican nominee, no matter who it is.
Dan Martz, a retired welder from Caldwell who voted for Trump, said he’s frustrated, not just at the government but with Republicans in Washington.
“The Republican Party has failed to stop Obama,” Martz said.
Martz doesn’t like Rubio or Cruz. But in the end, he dislikes Hillary Clinton more.
Retired smokejumper Bill Werhane, who voted at the Deer Flats Church in rural Canyon County, shared that view of “this crony establishment, when they pass rules they don’t have to follow them themselves.”
His wife Gina, an immigrant, also voted for Trump “for the security of the borders.”
The Werhanes’ friends, Gene and Sandy Ray, who retired to southern Canyon County from California, both voted for Rubio.
“I would like to see him win Idaho,” Sandy Ray said. “We will support the Republican nominee to the death. We’re worried about the Supreme Court.”
Marcy Flansburg of Eagle voted for John Kasich. But even if someone else wins the nomination, she said, she’ll support the GOP nominee.
‘LESSER OF TWO EVILS’
Re Thompson of Nampa would have preferred to vote for Ben Carson on Tuesday.
But after Carson dropped out, the volunteer with Love in the Name of Christ voted for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. “I didn’t want to vote for Donald Trump,” she said.
She wasn’t alone. George Christensen, a Nampa counselor, described his vote for Cruz as the “lesser of two evils.”
“He’s more of a conservative,” Christensen said. “Donald Trump hasn’t said anything that shows he’d even run the country.”
Leiann Snyder, who owns a wedding venue in south Nampa, said she wanted to vote for Mitt Romney, even though she didn’t vote for him in 2012. His name wasn’t on the ballot, so she voted for Cruz.
She does not want Donald Trump. “I think our country needs a miracle,” Snyder said.
Sharon Travis, a retired South Nampa resident, doesn’t like Trump, either.
“I don’t want a bully in the White House,” she said. “I wanted someone with more experience, some diplomacy.”
She voted for Cruz.
GOP primary results
Ted Cruz 44.1%
Donald Trump 28.1%
Marco Rubio 17.1%
John Kasich 7.4%
780 of 956 Idaho precincts
Constitution Party primary results
Scott Copeland, Texas 40.7%
Patrick Ockander, Texas 15.5%
J.R. Myers, Arkansas 43.8%
780 of 956 Idaho precincts