Trump’s Minnesota backers have high expectations

Published 10:09 am Friday, January 20, 2017

Cutting gov’t, growing jobs, fixing health care on list for many

When Donald Trump takes the oath of office and becomes president today he will have a lot of expectations to meet. Hermantown plumber Joe Lendacky already has a list. At the top: slash regulations to jump-start the economy.

“The United States is being regulated out of work, and I think that is going to be one key,” said Lendacky, who’s kept a massive Trump campaign sign outside his business for months and believes the new president will spur the economy. “He says for every new regulation that’s passed two got to go. I like that. I’d like to say for every one let’s see 10 of them go.”

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

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Lendacky is among the many Minnesotans who voted for Trump and made the presidential race here extraordinarily close. For many reasons, they believe he’s what the country needs in a leader. They run the gamut from billionaires to plumbers to people like Marilyn Geller, who runs a day care center in Bemidji and voted for Trump after supporting Barack Obama.

“As a rule I always thought the Democrats were good for the economy and always made things better. But I don’t know, this past year or so it just hasn’t turned out that way,” she said.

Geller conceded she’s nowhere near as excited about Trump becoming president as she was as when Obama won. She gives Trump has a 50-50 chance of turning around the country. She acknowledged being more hesitant about Trump now than she was early in the campaign because of some of the things he’s said.

Hubbard Broadcasting CEO Stanley Hubbard, 83, has come around to being a Trump champion. Initially last year, he opposed Trump, but then did an about-face, and contributed $125,000 to the Great America PAC which raised more than $28 million to help elect Trump. Hubbard thinks Trump will follow through on his promise to shrink the influence of government.

“He doesn’t owe any political favors. He can do what he wants to do like he runs a business,” Hubbard said of Trump’s leadership style. “Of course, he has to get the Congress to go along with him for a lot of stuff, thank goodness. We can’t have a dictator in our country. But for executive orders he can do what he wants and not worry about fallout.”

Edina mortgage banker Scott Gregory, a big Trump supporter since the beginning, wants to see the businessman take on health care and the offshoring of jobs. “What he needs to do is reform the Affordable Care Act, fix the tax code, go after the companies that are sending American manufacturing jobs overseas.”

Gregory is not as excited about Trump’s plan to build a wall on the Mexican border, but said he should follow through because he promised it as a candidate.

While the Trump campaign has claimed its victory amounts to a mandate from Americans, other observers say that’s not the case.

“Does Trump have a mandate? Of course he doesn’t,” said Cook Political Report Senior Editor Jennifer Duffy. “You can’t win the Electoral College and lose the popular vote and claim a mandate.”

Trump, she added, is likely to have a strained relationship with Republicans who control both houses of Congress.

“Just over the last few days we have seen several examples of Trump not being in step with a lot of Republicans,” she said. “His comment over the weekend about every American should have health insurance, you know, Republicans may not disagree with that, but they certainly disagree with whether it’s feasible and how to get there. That statement almost put him more in line with a Bernie Sanders.”

Trump’s political opponents say they’re not rooting for him to fail. But Minnesota DFL Party Chair Ken Martin thinks Trump and Republicans in the House and Senate will disappoint a lot of people with sky-high expectations that the new political order will create more jobs, reduce the cost of health care and improve national security.

“There are going to be many people who actually voted for Trump and Republicans up and down the ticket who are going to have buyer’s remorse after they see that the Republicans aren’t really interested in governing or solving these problems,” Martin said.

Martin hopes that will give Democrats a leg up in the 2018 mid-term election. But Trump supporters, by and large, discount that skepticism, which they say is coming from the same people who dismissed Trump as a candidate and claimed he could never be president.

Gregory is confident the new president will surprise his critics and believes people who are anxious about Trump in the White House are overreacting.

“The president is the president,” he said. He’s not a dictator,” Gregory said. “There’s a Constitution. You have the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, the lower courts. There’s only so much a president can actually do.”

Hubbard agreed.

“America’s bigger than a president,” he said. “America will be fine.”