As election returns tipped in favor of Donald Trump, Oregon supporters celebrated an emotional victory — a rejection, they said, of establishment politics.
Clackamas County Republicans for Trump got together at an Oregon City restaurant, rising on a cloud of elation as the results rolled in. Mark Hoyt, a jeweler and scoutmaster from Lake Oswego, was wonderstruck at the news of another battleground state going for Trump.
“Florida!” he exclaimed. “49.2 percent. Wow. That’s amazing.”
Many in the room were women. Most were older, long-time Republicans. Everyone was white. Oregon City resident Jo Havercamp, a retired medical worker, said she’d been phone banking for Trump up through Tuesday afternoon.
“We’ve been calling different people,” Havercamp said. “Not just in Oregon. We’ve been calling Michigan, New Mexico, Arizona. In fact, I’ve called 9,000 people — myself!”
Some here have been active on landowners’ rights, citizens-first immigration laws, or the bedrock Republican issues of limited government.
But the party also included independents attracted by Trump’s meteoric rise. Gretchen Carlstrom is a home health care assistant for the elderly.
“I liked him a number of years ago,” Carlstrom said. “I wanted him to run instead of Romney, really.”
She lists school choice among her top policy concerns.
Brett Wells of Beaverton works in sales and says he’s not a Republican — but maybe a Libertarian.
“Me, I’ve never been a party guy,” he said. “Trump didn’t get my attention so much as Wikileaks did. [Wikileaks revelations] got me to the point where I said, ‘Washington D.C. is corrupt beyond my wildest imagination.’ Trump’s message countering that — that did ring true with me.”
Many praised Trump as the man they believe would restore trust in federal institutions, bring manufacturing jobs back stateside and rejuvenate pride in America. Concerns about Trump’s temperament, immigration and security policies, they felt, were blown way out of proportion.
Everyone at this party said they could not have voted for Hillary Clinton, even if Trump hadn’t run.
Outside pro-Trump circles, Oregon’s voters gave Hillary Clinton an 11 percent margin over the Republican nominee. Mayor Charlie Hales cast it as Oregon progressives versus the world at the Wednesday morning Portland City Council meeting.
“This is a bad day for our country,” Hales said. “A sad day in which values that we believe in have been repudiated by a majority of the electors in the United States of America. And I’m sad about that.”
Oregon Clinton supporters are still picking up the pieces. They watched in horror Tuesday night as their candidate’s reported lead in the polls slipped away, state by state.
Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo was trying to be philosophical. She’s founded a movement that successfully petitioned in 2014 to get equal rights for women into Oregon’s Constitution. What she’d hoped would be a victory party Tuesday night was nothing but bare catering tables and forlorn-looking balloons.
She was thinking ahead. Maybe, she said, women’s advocates could leverage a Trump presidency to pass equal pay laws or other reforms.
“It’s almost more challenging to pass policy when you have one of your own in office,” DiLorenzo said. “When serving in office, people have to make compromises. Sometimes it’s actually easier to have someone that may not support your foundational cause, because it helps you create momentum.”
Still, tears sprang up in DiLorenzo’s eyes when she addressed another problem awaiting her at home: talking to her two kids about the new president’s attitudes toward women and Latino immigrants.
“That’s a more difficult position to be in,” she said. “I don’t know what words I could possibly apply, except that it’s just devastating.”
Back at the Trump victory party in Oregon City, supporters of the president-elect said they were less convinced by the Billy Bush tape — the one in which Trump grabbed about groping women — and more swayed by Trump’s hires and promotions of women within his development business. Others made the argument that sex-related accusations leveled at Trump were no worse than those against Hillary Clinton’s husband.
Cheers of “Trump! Trump! Trump!” rang out as the race was called. The revelers turned their thoughts toward Trump’s first 100 days.
Jerry Ghighlieri, a retiree with a background in commercial real estate, lives in Lake Oswego.
“He might go in and plow up Michelle’s garden at the White House,” Ghighlieri said. “That’s been a joke going around.”
In all seriousness, she predicts Trump will beef up the U.S. military right away.
As waitstaff at this Mexican restaurant whisked margaritas and plates of tacos among the tables, other Trump voters speculated about how soon the president-elect might make good on his promise to build a wall along the southern U.S. border. Some hoped he’d lower taxes or roll back Obamacare.
But Ghighlieri said something Hillary Clinton would later repeat in conceding the race: that Donald Trump deserves the chance to lead.
“Tell you what,” she said. “Let’s give him chance. Let’s see what he’ll do, and if not, we who voted for him will put his feet to the fire.”