Arizona Public Radio | Your Source for NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

In Ohio, An African-American Republican Stands By Donald Trump


In election years, we tend to talk about voters as blocs. How are women voting? What's the black turnout? What is the split among white men or Latinos? In reality, every vote is its own story. And as our colleague Robert Siegel found out on a trip to Ohio, for every statistical likelihood there are exceptions to the rule.

ROBERT SIEGEL, BYLINE: Meet Tracey Winbush, who grew up on a de facto segregated road of small homes outside Youngstown, Ohio.

TRACEY WINBUSH: I was raised in that white house right down there. The whole neighborhood from this street all the way over, say about five blocks, was all African-American except for maybe one or two families. This was home.

SIEGEL: Winbush is now a radio talk show host and a Republican county vice chair. She says black voters don't use the leverage of their power at the polls. They could get more by demanding more for their support. And last week when I met her in Youngstown, Ohio, she said the politics of the GOP reflect her upbringing.

WINBUSH: I've always been conservative. That's just me. I was raised with conservative values. I believe that you're supposed to work, be responsible for your home, for your care, you use the system for a way up, not a continuous and that you're supposed to give back.

SIEGEL: But lots of African-Americans grew up in churchgoing, socially conservative households and, you know, about 90 percent of them end up voting Democratic usually.

WINBUSH: That's indoctrination.

SIEGEL: Indoctrination.

WINBUSH: Absolutely. There's no way that African-Americans can come from different walks of life, different areas, different mindsets. They can't get together on a church board and all agree except for their politics. It doesn't work that way.

SIEGEL: Let me ask you about a specific Donald Trump story.


SIEGEL: We're sued by the federal government for discrimination in housing, for being ready to rent apartments to white people and turning away on the same day a black person who showed up looking at the same apartment. Doesn't bother you at all that that was in his background as a businessman?

WINBUSH: I believe that was 1972. I believe that Donald Trump was 28 years old and he didn't have a whole lot of power in his father's company. It was not his company. He worked for his father. So that's one thing. The other thing is if you were in an apartment complex and you depended on that complex to thrive, you had to be strategic because white flight was real.

You could move an African-American into your neighborhood and watch every house go up for sale at that time. How do you have a 500-unit building...


WINBUSH: ...And one person, two people move in and you watch 498 move out? I'm not saying that it was right...


WINBUSH: ...But it was real.

SIEGEL: I would say in the Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher biography of Trump he's quoted knowing what the program...


SIEGEL: ...Was back in those days and telling people who worked for him we don't want to rent to those people.

WINBUSH: But again, look at the time. They had to establish a Girl Scout Troop, a camp fire troop just for me to participate in 1970.

SIEGEL: It was that segregated.

WINBUSH: It was that segregated. I was the first African-American to work in a public area in 1983. I was a checkout clerk at a grocery store. But then I'm the first African-American to sit on the board of elections too in 2016. And I'm the first African-American that we can find on record that was appointed to be a grand jury foreman in 2015.

SIEGEL: And we're not in Mississippi.

WINBUSH: We're in Mahoning County, Ohio. Yeah, these are Republican appointments. But the Democrats have more African-Americans to choose from who are a whole lot better than me, yet they don't give them position. An African-American's never been elected statewide in Ohio that's been a Democrat.

SIEGEL: In Ohio, there've only been two African-Americans elected to statewide office, both Republicans. When Tracey Winbush supported Ohio's governor John Kasich for president earlier this year, she was scathing about Donald Trump. He didn't share her values, his budget proposal was ridiculous. Now she says she knows more about him and his proposals have changed.

She supports the Republican nominee and so do many voters in that majority Democratic part of eastern Ohio.

SHAPIRO: That's our colleague Robert Siegel, who's been reporting on Republicans in the swing state of Ohio. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.