Local Republicans Stick With Trump

Many uneasy about nominee but don’t want Hillary Clinton in White House

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

As the Republican Party struggled with the past and present behavior of its presidential nominee, Donald Trump, local party leaders have reacted with everything from fervent support to silence.

The enthusiasts include Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, who appeared Oct. 12 in Albany as a speaker at a Women for Trump luncheon, a rambunctious affair at which attendees denounced Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, yelling “Lock her up!” and lauded Trump, whose daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, participated in the event.

Odell told the group that “as a Republican, as a leader, as a mother of two” and “friend to many, many strong and beautiful women, I’m not happy about the comments” Trump made in a 2005 video in which he bragged about his sexual proclivities and conquests.

In this screen grab from a Journal News video, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell speaks at a Women for Trump rally in Albany on Oct. 12.

In this screen grab from a Journal News video, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell speaks at a Women for Trump rally in Albany on Oct. 12.

“I find it to be disappointing – something I would say to my own son, if I had heard that he had made those kind of comments,” Odell said. However, she added, “those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. I think that is something that we can all say to our children who are looking at us, regardless of their age, over the last couple of days and in the weeks ahead and remind them that there is no one who is perfect. But someone who is passionate about their cause and their belief and certainly their country is someone that you must give respect and patience [to].”

Backing Trump “is not an easy decision for some, but it’s the right decision,” she said, because the election “is much, much larger” than the controversy over Trump. She said her support reflects “my love for my county and my country” and concerns “for those of us in the middle class and the future of our children [and] their education, their opportunities.” It is also “about the Second Amendment,” she said. “And it’s about the next 25 years of the Supreme Court.”

Odell did not reply to a message left with her Putnam County office seeking elaboration on her endorsement.

womenfortrumpPutnam County Republican Chairman Anthony Scannapieco, who doubles as the Republican commissioner of the Putnam County Board of Elections, attended the Albany rally, which his wife, Donna, helped organize. En route back to Putnam, they said they will both vote for Trump. “Is there any choice?” Anthony Scannapieco asked. “Do I go with the thief and murderer?” he said of Hillary Clinton. “Why would I ever vote for [one]?”

Asked to explain, he said: “Yep, [she’s] a murderer, starting with Vince Foster,” a Bill Clinton aide found dead in a Virginia park in 1993. He also accused Clinton of being involved in the shooting death in July of a Democratic National Committee staffer who had leaked emails to Wikileaks. “That was an assassination,” he said. “The Clintons have no qualms about killing somebody.”

Donna Scannapieco said she regards Hillary Clinton as “corrupt.” In Albany, she cited Trump’s stance on immigration as a reason to vote for him, “because we don’t want anyone in my America, in your America, that does not get screened. We don’t want them here.”

Barbara Scuccimarra, who represents Philipstown in the Putnam County Legislature, was far less enamored. “Jesus … Oh, God,” she responded during a phone interview when asked if she would vote for Trump. “It’s a hard one. I’m a conservative Republican. Do I condone his behavior? Hell, no! It’s a very difficult time for me … tough. It’s very troubling, but I’ll stand by my party.”

She also said that “there’s a lot coming out about Hillary that’s really troubling, too.” After expressing her dismay about the presidential choices, Scuccimarra said she finds Indiana Gov. Mike Pence refreshing. “I like what I’m hearing from his running mate,” she said.

State Sen. Sue Serino, who represents Philipstown and Beacon, did not respond to a message, sent via her campaign, asking whether Trump has her vote. However, the Southwest Dutchess Daily Voice quoted her as saying that “as a woman,” she found Trump’s 2005 comments “particularly troubling. This type of behavior does not belong in politics, in business or in our society and it most certainly is not representative of my own values.” She also said she would not endorse Trump — or anyone — for president. “We have two terrible candidates,” she told the Poughkeepsie Journal.

Donald Trump at a rally earlier this year (campaign photo)

Donald Trump at a rally earlier this year (campaign photo)

Beacon Republican Committee Chairman Justin Riccobone said his committee “does not endorse presidential candidates.” He voted for Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the New York primary “but Donald Trump prevailed. I, along with most of the GOP in Beacon, will be supporting Trump.” He said they “feel that our country needs to change the path we’re currently on.” Riccobone said he found Trump’s comments about women offensive, “but we’ve all said our fair share of off-color remarks. He apologized, so let’s move on.”

Three other local Republican leaders did not respond to requests for comment: Putnam County Legislator Dini LoBue, a Republican who is a frequent critic of Odell; Dutchess County Republican Chairman Michael T.J. McCormack; and Beacon Mayor Randy Casale, who ran in 2015 on the Republican ballot line.

Meanwhile, the New York State Republican Party remains unabashedly pro-Trump. “We are proud to have our fellow New Yorker Donald J. Trump as our Republican nominee for president,” it states on its website.

9 thoughts on “Local Republicans Stick With Trump

  1. Wow, Hillary has murdered two people, not counting Benghazi. Has anyone investigated this? : )

  2. As candidates on the national level, we indeed have a basket of deplorables: Clinton and Trump.

  3. Barbara, Laura and both George Bushes are voting for Hillary. I assume these Republicans understand what being president of the U.S. demands in terms of intelligence, management skills and problem-solving abilities. If they are willing to cross party lines, that says far more than what local politicians say. My guess these local politician are more worried that they’ll be out of their elected jobs.

  4. This is at least the second article in the last few weeks where you have provided quarter and normalization for right-wing extremism. First by publishing, and then defending, dangerous and magical math conjured up by known racist, Trump campaign CEO, and Breitbart head Steve Bannon. And now is this article, allowing a clearly deranged person to go unquestioned, unchallenged, and un-fact-checked while accusing Hillary Clinton of being a murderer.

    That is really disappointing.

  5. Reporting on local Republicans being loyal to their party’s nominee, Donald Trump, is not “providing quarter” for the demonstrably untrue allegations you make against him.

    The Current should be commended for presenting different points of view or in this case, simply reporting on what both sides are about during one of the most exciting and important presidential races our country has ever experienced.

    I am proud to be one of the so called “deplorables” that was maligned by Ms. Clinton, whom I consider to be guilty of treason and other high crimes and misdemeanors that utterly disqualify her from public office. I have little to no sympathy for your viewpoint and many others that are expressed in this publication but I would never question The Current’s absolute right to publish them.

    Free speech is still our most important freedom and The Highlands Current has shown that they honor that tradition by having these forums. They may not agree with the opinions that are expressed, but they certainly honor our right to have them by printing them.

    • Folks are welcome and encouraged express all manner of viewpoints. And I most certainly do not advocate for any kind of political hegemony or purity. All I ask for is that complete (and dangerous) nonsense be called out.

      I was very specific in my comment above – and it had nothing whatsoever to do with party loyalty or the reporting thereof. Rather, I was calling out what is now a second instance of giving voice to particularly dangerous right-wing rhetoric and making no effort to contextualize it.

      Yelling “fire” in a crowded movie theater has long been separated from the freedom of speech, similarly, letting acquisitions of double murder just hang in the air without even the decency to point out that no such evidence has ever existed to support that kind of lunacy, should do the same.

  6. I cannot understand how anyone can feel Trump is suitable for public office. He is the darling of white supremacists and an Islamophobe so vicious he has brought out the worst of America’s racism and violence. His and his evangelical running mate are campaigning on a ultra-nationalist, exceptionalist, fascist platform. His opponent is far from a perfect candidate but she has been demonized in a most ignorant manner that includes not only Trump supporters but progressives also. This campaign has been humiliating and painful.

  7. Once again, thanks to The Current for maintaining the highest level of discourse in the current political debate and for printing opposing viewpoints on controversial topics, local and national.

    It is not “Islamophobic” to want to seriously vet, restrict or ban immigration from Muslim countries that are known to harbor terrorists. In our own country, we have had 9/11, the Boston Bombers, Fort Hood shootings, the Orlando nightclub shooting, the San Bernardino terrorists, to name but a few, all thanks to followers of the Religion of Peace. These are people who practice Sharia law that among other things, says it is alright to kill Jews, Christians and gays or other “infidels.” If you don’t believe me, do a Google search for “list of Islamic terror attacks” and see what comes up.

    It is not “racist” to want to maintain the borders, language and culture of our country or to preserve the values that define the United States of America as codified in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Thanks to those much vilified “dead white men” — Washington, Jefferson, Madison, et. al. — we have the greatest republic that has ever existed on this planet.

    If not for our freedom of speech and freedom of the press that are the cornerstones of our democracy, none of us would be able to publicly express our political beliefs in a forum like this.

    As far as Ms. Clinton, with her well-documented, 30-year history of shady, pay-for-play politics that is being amply documented on a daily basis, it is my belief that she and the elites she really represents want to continue the turmoil in the Middle East, destroy what’s left of our borders and flood us with immigrants who will provide them with cheap labor and votes. I find it hard to believe that anyone could vote for a candidate who has such contempt and disdain for her own supporters.

  8. After reading this piece I have lost what admiration I ever had for Ms. Scuccimarra, and the modicum of respect I had for Ms. Odell. Blind adherence to party over everything else is both sad and scary. As for the criticism of Mr. Daly’s request that The Current add some context to remarks made by county Republicans that amount to slander, I agree with Daly; when someone makes a demonstrably false accusation, it’s the reporter’s job to factcheck. I also find it fascinating that the Founders are frequently invoked by those who would willingly shred the Constitution by allowing both religious and racial discrimination on a national scale.