The outgoing chairman of the Sedgwick County Republicans told the party faithful to hold their nose and vote for Donald Trump for president.
“I’m not here to tell you you need to love our Republican candidate, I’m here to tell you you need to vote for him anyway,” Todd Johnson said in a short address to party activists and precinct committee members who gathered Thursday night for the county party’s reorganization session at the Wichita Marriott hotel.
Whether you love him or not – and some of you do – but, quote, if you need to hold your nose, hold your nose and let’s vote Republican.
Todd Johnson, outgoing chairman of Sedgwick County Republican Party
He did not mention Trump by name but told the group: “Whether you love him or not – and some of you do – but, quote, if you need to hold your nose, hold your nose and let’s vote Republican.”
Johnson urged the assembly to “support Republicans up and down the ballot and starting at the top.”
Trump has not shown great popularity among Kansas and Sedgwick County Republicans.
In the statewide presidential caucus in March, Trump lost to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz by 48.2 percent to 23.3 percent.
And despite holding a well-attended and enthusiastic rally in Wichita on the morning of the caucus, Trump did worse among Sedgwick County Republicans, winning just 20 percent of the vote to Cruz’s 61 percent.
Since 1940, Kansas has gone for a Democrat for president only once: Lyndon Johnson’s landslide over Barry Goldwater in 1964. Most projections place Kansas firmly in the Trump electoral camp, although polling has been mixed.
A June poll by the Zogby firm showed Democrat Hillary Clinton leading Trump, 43 to 36 percent. But it was dismissed as an outlier a month later, when SurveyUSA and Fort Hays State University polls showed Trump with comfortable 11- and 17-point leads.
44-39 Percentage point lead for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in latest SurveyUSA Kansas poll
The most recent SurveyUSA poll, released Monday, showed Trump’s lead dwindling to 5 points, with 44 percent to Clinton’s 39 percent.
Johnson’s remarks came shortly after precinct committee members elected lawyer Sean Hatfield as their new chairman, along with a slate of officers to lead the party for the next year.
During that nomination process, Ben Sauceda, former secretary of the county party, referred to treasurer candidate Roman Rodriguez as “a fellow Rubio Republican.”
It was a reference to Florida senator and former presidential candidate Marco Rubio, who traded insults with Trump on the primary campaign trail.
Johnson also followed a speech by David Gittrich of Kansans for Life, who urged Republicans to vote out several state appellate and Supreme Court jurists in November, so they could be replaced with candidates more opposed to abortion and more supportive of the death penalty.
Tying into the judicial theme, Johnson told the assembly: “This election is very important because the next president is going to be selecting multiple Supreme Court judges.”