Maryland Voices: Trump and Clinton both have strongholds in Baltimore County
If you go around asking people who they plan to vote for, for president this year, you will find many are passionate about their choices. And that choice often has a lot to do with not liking the other candidate.
Take Liz Freedman, who lives in Reisterstown and plans to vote for Hillary Clinton.
"I could never vote for Donald Trump," Freedman said. "He is a misogynist."
Then there is Ed Aldridge, who lives in Essex.
"Trump all the way," he said. "Hillary will run the country into the ground."
Last month, Trump made a campaign stop at The Boulevard Diner in Dundalk. That made political sense. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than two to one in the county, but the eastern part is thought to be Trump country.
On a recent morning, Bob Hanlin, his wife, Brenda, and their friend, Nancy Catron, were having breakfast at the diner. They all go to the same church, Freedom Baptist in Dundalk, and they all plan to vote for Trump.
Bob Hanlin is a veteran and said Clinton lost his vote because of how she handled the terrorist attack in Benghazi in 2012 when she was secretary of state.
"Hillary let our people die, and then she lied about it," he said. "I don’t like being lied to."
Catron said she supports Trump because he is a Christian candidate who opposes abortion.
"People that have come out and are talking about his past indiscretions, he’s apologized for those," Catron said. "And as a Christian, we are to forgive. We may not forget but we are to forgive him."
On the other side of the diner, Carrie Fortney was having breakfast with a friend. Fortney said she is a Democrat, but next month, Trump will get her vote.
"He is a dick, though, but I think that’s what I like about him," Fortney said.
She said she doesn’t really care about the sexual assault allegations against Trump, figuring he’s a "typical man."
Fortney said Trump can get things done, and one of the things she wants him to get done, is his promise to stop illegal immigrants.
"They can walk into a welfare office and get all the food stamps, cash assistance they want," she complained. "They can buy houses. You know, get car loans and the Americans can’t get nothing."
A few miles away from the diner, Bill Rieger and a couple of friends were walking their dogs at Cox’s Point Park in Essex. Rieger said he once was a registered Democrat, but now he’s a Republican and he’ll vote for Trump. Like Fortney, the sexual assault allegations against Trump don’t matter to him.
"No if they go over anybody’s life for the last 20 years they’re going to find something wrong," Rieger said. "I don’t care who you are. I mean, even you."
Rieger wants Trump, not Clinton, filling vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court. His friend Susan Miller said her vote for Trump is as much a vote against Clinton.
"She’s offering you know free college to people where there is nothing for free. All they’re going to do is raise our taxes and make us pay for it," said Miller.
The Dundalk-Essex area of Baltimore County used to be reliably Democratic. But that has been changing, and that was made clear two years ago when Larry Hogan won big here in the Governor’s race. Voters here also backed Republicans down the ballot in races for the State Senate, House and County Council.
The area has endured hard times. Tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs were lost, so Trump’s message of making America "Great Again" resonates. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find Clinton supporters here.
There were a couple of them hanging out at Fruitland on Eastern Boulevard in Essex, including Charles Plumley, who said Clinton has 30 years of experience, "where Donald Trump is only a businessman and look at how many companies he had that went bankrupt."
The Stone Mill Bakery is 20 miles north and west of Essex, in Lutherville. And here there is no problem finding support for the former secretary of state. In this part of the county, Democrats have a lock on all of the elected offices, including the county council and the legislature.
Liz Freedman, the Clinton supporter at the beginning of this story, said there are many reasons she supports her. For starters, she wants Clinton picking the next Supreme Court justice.
"I am 100 percent pro choice," said Freedman.
Hannah Himmelrich, a manager at Stone Mill Bakery, supported Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary but has no problem backing Clinton now.
"I’m definitely not one of those people who wouldn’t ever vote for Hillary," she said. "The whole crooked lying Hillary thing is ridiculous because a vote for anyone other than Hillary I think is a vote for Trump."
Himmelrich is a student at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and, as it turns out, she’ll be graduating from Trinity on election day, November 8.
She says she’s already mailed her absentee ballot and that she’ll stay up late in Dublin watching the returns on election night.
"I would have been anyway because I have to celebrate my graduation, you know, find a pub with a TV."
Damon Carter is a cook at Stone Mill who voted for Ronald Reagan more than 30 years ago. But this time around, he’s for Clinton. Carter said Trump is short on specifics and added that it was rude and disrespectful how the Republican nominee reached out to African Americans like him, asking them what have they got to lose.
"Everyone’s that black isn’t poor, not successful," he said indignantly. "I’m 50 years old. I have my own property. I’m a landlord."
Catherine Hilgartner, who lives in Towson, is a Republican and, like Carter, voted for Reagan back in the day. But this year she said she’s voting for Clinton, even though she’s not very enthusiastic about it.
"I don’t trust her," Higartner said. "But better the crook you know than the one you don’t."
Hilgartner was having a drink outside at Tark’s Grill in Lutherville with her friend Harriet Van Kleek. Van Kleek said she can’t stand the thought of Trump running the country.
"He is a bully," she said. "He is a narcissist. He is all about himself."
Clinton and Trump both have high unfavorable ratings in the polls, so, it comes as no surprise that some people you talk to plan to vote for someone else. Dan Seifert lives in Catonsville, will vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson, and doesn’t buy the argument he’s throwing away his vote.
"I’ve always thought throwing away your vote is voting for someone you don’t agree with, or that you don’t actually support," Seifert said. "And I don’t support either of these candidates."
And Stone Mill customer Andrew Gibeault wants to vote for Obama. The other Obama.
"Personally I’d rather just vote for Michelle Obama, but she’s not running so we’re stuck with what we’ve got."
No matter your level of enthusiasm, you get your first chance to vote next week. Early voting begins in Maryland October 27th.