After Trump won the primary the RNC/Colorado GOP ground game was missing in many counties or weak. Dollars spent by the RNC to help Romney vs. Trump was in the million dollar range. Positive messaging for President Trump was driven by PAC dollars – not the GOP calling and door knocking effort. Calling or knocking doors consisted of “Who are you voting for Trump or Hillary?” An attitude of embarrassment that Trump was our candidate prevailed. In Pueblo County, the GOP field director instructed paid and volunteer door knockers to say, “Who do you hate least – Trump or Hillary?” – hardly an inspirational message to convince people to vote Trump.
While those in Colorado GOP power held their noses about the crass, brash, populist Trump, one completely unexpected county in Colorado voted and won for Trump, in a 3:1 Democrat majority: Pueblo County.
Trump’s candidacy rang true with a few activists in Colorado early on. Especially those of us living in or born and raised in Pueblo, Colorado. Pueblo was once a thriving middle- class blue collar, steel community. Pueblo was home to the third largest steel producing mill in the country.
In 1971, Pueblo’s population was the second largest in Colorado, larger than Colorado Springs. Schools competed in every aspect with those in Denver. Low crime and a sense of community were strong, a great place to raise a family. NAFTA changed manufacturing nationwide, and brought about the ruination of the steel industry. Ross Perot said it best– NAFTA would bring about the “Great Sucking sound of lost jobs to America.” Pueblo, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Ohio are poster children of the devastation brought about by NAFTA. Crushing anti-business regulations brought in the closures of coal mines, farming and lumbering.
Politician’s promises to bring back prosperity and jobs especially in former blue collar cities didn’t happen. Politicians from both parties began pushing TPP and open borders threatening more jobs and the economic security and safety of citizens. Union labor leaders did little to push back against TPP. Voters had had enough. They stopped voting and left the Democrat and Republican Party in record numbers. Everyday citizens no longer believed politicians had the best interests of Americans in mind. Pueblo mirrored the other “Rust Belt” states that voted for Trump, across ethnic lines.
Then Trump came on the scene. Trump brought the average citizen an air of optimism with his theme “Make America Great Again”. Americans didn’t want to believe the line of Obama that America is in decline and we’d better get used to a globalist “New World Order”, a theme coined by George H.W. Bush.
Pueblo Trump organizers Becky Mizel, Jennifer and Dr. Keith Lorensen, along with others, Susan Carr, Roxie McNames Paine, Jack Roberts, Joseph Santoro, Hal and Elaine Bowen, Dr. Bruce and Debbie Johnson, Bernice Rivera, Jennifer Krutshke, Marla and Steve Reichert, Carole Morenz, Dr. Chuck and Barb Schneider, Mary Tonne and many others organized early on with a mix of GOP, Tea Party activists, unaffiliated voters and former GOP party chairs Frances Mathews and Tom Ready. Before the primary, an early social media presence was formed on Facebook; Coloradans for Trump.
The Pueblo group decided to approach campaigning and get out the vote effort with an outside out of the box in your face but friendly method. This effort was not coordinated with the Colorado GOP/ RNC or the Colorado Trump campaign which made the decision to let the Colorado GOP and RNC guide and direct the campaigns efforts. After the primary, the “Pueblo Trump Street Team” was developed and deployed. This team literally hit the streets on corners in the busiest times with positive messaging for Trump that would resonate with local Puebloans. Being on corners engaged in eye to eye direct contact, reaching thousands daily, we encountered drivers who were about 5:1 positive for Trump.
We also encountered nasty anti-Trump vitriol, resulting in being sworn at with the worst possible language, things thrown at us and a few physical threats. Many, many people thanked the wavers profusely for being out there. The positives kept us going and were contagious. The National Trump campaign heard of our efforts and designated 5,000 yard signs and eighteen 4×8 signs the team put together and distributed to smaller counties such as, Custer, Teller and Fremont. The team wore Trump hats to local bars, coffee shops, grocery stores and restaurants talking to all who would listen. Colorful eye catching banners were developed by Carl Lorensen with themes and messaging that resonate with Puebloans, such as, “Trump Loves Steel”, “Trump Digs Coal”, “Trump for Borders”, “Trump for Safety”, “Save our Guns – Vote Trump” and “Americans for Trump”.
Endless hours were spent on street corners talking with drivers face to face and passing out yard signs. Phone calls and door knocking by the GOP also occurred. Telephone banks, though necessary, result in most recipients of the calls either not answering or hanging up. Hang ups by people who are fed up with solicitations can cause irritation if called over and over. Door knocking, while effective and needed, can be counterproductive without a positive convincing message-to-go along with the face to face contact. “Who do you hate less, Trump or Hillary?” is hardly positive messaging and was used for a time with the Trump get out the vote effort in Pueblo. Nor does it help down ballot candidates by setting negative messaging at the top of the ticket.
Many days the Trump Street Team was discouraged. We persevered due to the energy of the driver’s honking and waving in encouragement. And the hope Trump could win and possibly we could play a part. Many said our street waving and outreach efforts were worthless, even discouraged us from doing it. Pundits and media said Trump had no chance.
Election Day the Pueblo Trump Street Team began waving early, until dark, talking to people and reminding drivers to vote. That day, I hand delivered my ballot and my aging father’s ballot to the election department. I met a man who was also walking in to vote. He said, “I saw you early this morning waving your signs. I wasn’t going to vote. I didn’t think Trump has a chance to win. But when I saw your group out waving, I felt I needed to do my part and go vote.” That said it all for us. The Trump Street Team did its part. The win in Pueblo for Trump in a Democrat bastion was indeed historic.
(Editor/GG: An outstanding effort by THE PEOPLE. An inspirational story of how to get it down at the street level. We only had two Trump sign wavers here in Westcliffe – should have had a hundred. The apathy of the republican base is appalling. Fox News, email and Facebook do NOT cut it folks if you want to save America. Get off your bu**. Thank God for people like Becky and The Trump Street Team. The Pueblo County results were Clinton, 35,875 and Trump 36,265. Wow.)
Becky Mizel’s Bio: Becky Mizel is the former Pueblo County GOP chairman. Her county was the only local county party to openly support the grassroots efforts in the historic recall effort of Angela Giron in 2013. Pueblo County had the highest percent of GOP Get out the Vote in Colorado in 2014. Becky openly exposed voting irregularities that occurred in Pueblo County in the elections of 2012 and 2014. Becky was Tom Tancredo’s Pueblo Campaign Director in 2010, garnering over 19,000 votes vs. the Pueblo GOP numbers of 9800. Much of the outreach used in Pueblo in 2010 were used in the Pueblo Trump Street Team to help elect Mr. Trump in Pueblo County. She was a board member of Southern Colorado Tea Party and Liberty Action Group. She has been an active Republican for over 40 years in Colorado and Texas. Becky was responsible along with Council Woman Vera Ortegon, to have Pueblo officially recognize Constitution Day. She taught hundreds of students the Constitution through Liberty Day in the schools and through the Center for American Values.
Becky is widowed and has one son Max, who is attending UC Davis, working on his Doctorate in Environmental Engineering and Water, Becky is semi- retired from a 34-year career in nursing and health care administration. GRASS ROOTS from page 1 Pueblo Trump organizers distributed 5,000 yards signs to Pueblo and neighboring counties. Photos Courtesy of Becky Mizel Pueblo Trump Street Team Patriot, Jennifer Lorensen, gets the word out with their own signs before the Trump campaign heard of their efforts. Courtesy photo Trump Street Team members