PORT ANGELES — Whether dismayed or encouraged, North Olympic Peninsula residents said Republican billionaire Donald Trump’s stunning victory over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in winning election to the highest office in the land portends massive change.
Trump won the election largely with support from working-class whites, according to analysts. Campaign promises included but are not limited to renegotiating trade agreements, building a wall on the border with Mexico, repealing the Affordable Health Act — which he will replace, he has said, although without providing details — capping student loans and using the idea of “America First” in evaluating the nation’s alliances and coalitions.
Dick Pilling, Clallam County Republican Party chair, said voters across the country declared a clear message: They are done with the Democratic Party’s agenda.
Republicans now will hold not only the White House but also majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate.
“I think it was a refutation of the entire Democrat agenda and party,” Pilling said. “I think Mr. Trump has been supported by the electorate to affect change that is much-needed in the United States.”
Now, the U.S. needs to band together and stand behind its new president and representatives, he said.
“Had Hillary Clinton been elected, I would have had the same opinion,” he said. “You have to support your president. Thankfully she wasn’t.”
Peninsula College student Stephanie LaCour said she is disappointed and surprised by the election. She supported Clinton.
Going into Tuesday night, several media outlets predicted Clinton had a strong chance of winning the election.
LaCour said she doesn’t know how a candidate who has no experience in government could be elected as president.
“That just blows my mind that someone with no elected experience could become president,” she said.
“It seems like he came out of the blue.”
Timothy Walch, a first-year student at Peninsula College, voted for Trump because of his business experience.
Now that Trump has been elected, Walch hopes he makes good on his word to “Make America Great Again.”
“When you vote for someone, you don’t know if they’re going to keep their word,” he said. “But with what he said, I like it more than anyone else.”
He was fairly confident going into the election Tuesday that Trump would win. After looking at the samples in polls forecasting a Clinton victory, Walch felt Republicans were underrepresented.
“Once he won Florida, pretty much the weight was lifted off my shoulders,” he said. “That’s when I realized this was actually happening.”
Now that Trump is elected, Walch hopes he’ll surprise those who think he’s a sexist and racist.
“I hope he surprises everyone that hated him,” he said.
Roger Fight, chairman of the Clallam County Democrats, called Trump’s election disappointing, adding he is apprehensive about what the presidency is going to look like going forward.
“In my view, a business background is about the worst credentials for being president I know of,” he said. “Knowing how to run a business does not translate to knowing how to run the government.”
It appears Clinton will carry Clallam County, he said, adding that it is such a narrow margin that it could switch.
While Clinton was ahead Wednesday by about 300 votes, there are still about 10,000 ballots to count, according to the Clallam County Auditor’s Office.
“We were very surprised at the outcome, as many people were,” said Bruce Cowen, Jefferson County Democratic Party chairman.
“We’re dismayed that the American people decided to vote that way.”
Cowen said the Jefferson County Democrats will continue to advocate for all people and ensure that people’s needs are met and society remains just.
“We think that may be more difficult now with a Republican-controlled government,” Cowen said.
However, locally, Cowen said there is hope for Democrats.
“Twenty-six of our 28 endorsements passed, including candidates on the state level and two Jefferson County commissioner seats,” Cowen said. “So that gives us hope for our state and our county.”
Cowen said the biggest concerns for local Democrats moving forward is ensuring people continue to have Social Security and access to health care and health insurance.
Jon Cooke, Jefferson County Republicans state committeeman, said the vote was a victory for the people.
“We think Americans kind of woke up and decided they didn’t like what was going on and decided to take their country back,” Cooke said.
Cooke said Washington state, generally regarded as a sure thing for Democrats, has a large number of rural counties that tend to vote for Republicans.
“In the future, we hope to have less Washington Republicans feeling discouraged by election results in the state,” he said.
Cooke said local Republicans understood that President-elect Trump comes with a lot of controversy, but he was still better than the alternative.
“When you’re looking for someone who is going to change the direction of the country, it was Trump over Hillary hands down,” Cooke said.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at [email protected].