Rowan voters unhappy about negative tone in GOP race

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, March 8, 2016

By Josh Bergeron

A clown show. Terrible mudslinging. Childish.

In the midst of a polarizing election season, many Rowan residents talk about the negative tone of the Republican presidential race with just a few words.

Supporters of businessman Donald Trump list a perceived, imminent defeat of remaining GOP candidates as the chief reason for the negative tone. Trump supporters rave about America’s potential with the New York businessman in office. He’s already won a number of states in the Republican primary race. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has won the second most states, but polls show Trump ahead in many others, including North Carolina.

“America has spoken,” said Trump supporter Matt Pfeiffer, who voted early in China Grove this week. “Get over yourself and get on the bandwagon.”

Rowan voters upset about Trump’s proposals blame the New York businessman for the race’s negative tone. Trump opponents include both Republicans and Democrats. When asked, some were hesitant to discuss their thoughts in the Republican race. Others described the Republican presidential race in just a few words.

Danny Evans, a Ted Cruz supporter, said Trump is the “embodiment of the ugly part of the Republican Party.”

Trump, however, is attracting many supporters from the Republican Party and some from outside of the party. China Grove native Larry Davies said he’s never voted for a Republican in his life. This year, Davies said he’s voting for Trump because he’ll make America “strong like it used to be.” Davies said Trump would “hire the best people” if elected president.

To be clear, Rowan is a red county. Most of Rowan’s elected leaders — at the national, state and local level — are Republicans. Most people turning out to vote in 2016’s primary elections are also choosing Republican ballots — a sign several voters said indicates the large interest in this years GOP presidential race. By Saturday afternoon, 2,000 people had voted in Rowan’s 2016 primaries, according to the local Board of Elections. Republicans have turned out to vote during early voting by a count of about two to one.

Five voters who talked to the Salisbury Post, however, said they chose a Republican ballot simply to vote against Trump. In North Carolina, those registered to a particular political party must use that party’s primary ballot. Voters registered as unafiliated can vote in any primary election.

Regardless of political affiliation or presidential preference, a number of Rowan voters said Republican presidential candidates should “grow up.”

“It’s the greatest GOP circus ever,” said Yvonne Dixon, who voted early in Salisbury last week. “It’s a clown show.”

Salisbury voter Jesse Tart said the 2016 presidential primary may be the most negative he’s seen.

“There’s lots of mudslinging,” said Rowan resident Jesse Tart. “It seems like it gets worse every time.”

Jerry Karriker, who voted in China Grove on Friday, said he’d rather see candidates talk about issues than attack each other.

“When a guy is running for president, I want to hear him tell us what’s he is going to do for the country as opposed to talking bad about all the others,” Karriker said.

Rowan County voters will have until March 12 to cast ballots during early voting, which allows people to register and vote on the same day. During weekdays, polls are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Rowan Public Library headquarters in Salisbury, the library’s south branch in China Grove and the Rockwell American Legion Building. On March 12, only the library headquarters will be open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

March 15 is election day.

Tyler Copeland, a Hillary Clinton supporter, said regardless of who wins the primary or general election, he’s going to go about his life the same way.

“I’ve eaten breakfast before all these politicians started running, and I’m going to keep having breakfast once one of them gets in office,” he said. “It just might be a little tougher.”

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.