U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers marked her ballot for Donald Trump in Washington’s presidential primary. But she wasn’t enthusiastic about it, she said in a long post on her campaign Facebook page Thursday.
The announcement drew quick criticism from some of her would-be replacements. Fellow Republican Tom Horne said she had been “dancing” around the question of endorsing Trump for months while the nomination was in doubt and now is voting for him when the race is decided.
Democrat Joe Pakootas said he was surprised and appalled she would align herself with someone who has mocked women, veterans and people with disabilities.
Independent Dave Wilson said McMorris Rodgers and the GOP “have caved to a candidate who is everything a political leader should not be.”
Libertarian Krystol McGee said if McMorris Rodgers felt the need to make her vote public, she should have issued “a wholehearted statement.”
The Spokane Republican, who is fourth in the House GOP leadership team, so far has refused to endorse Trump, even though he is her party’s presumptive presidential nominee.
With her ballot required to be mailed in by next Tuesday to be counted in the state’s presidential primary, McMorris Rodgers announced she voted for Trump. The ballot has three other candidates, but all have dropped out of the race.
“Did I cast my ballot with enthusiasm? Not exactly,” she wrote. “I’m still getting to know Mr. Trump like so many others.”
She and other House GOP leaders had a “positive first meeting last week,” she said. “Do I have concerns about the comments he made in the past and on the campaign trail this year about women; people with disabilities; and those from different backgrounds? Absolutely.”
Those comments were wrong in the presidential campaign “and anywhere else,” she wrote.
Pakootas, who lost to McMorris Rodgers in the 2014 general election, said she and other House Republicans have voted against past legislation on fair pay, violence against women and funding for birth control for low-income women. He said he doubted she would challenge Trump for comments against women, the disabled and minorities.
Trump won millions of supporters by speaking his mind, calling out dysfunction in Washington, D.C., and “talking outside the politically correct box,” she wrote. He’ll have to earn the presidency by proving he has the temperament for the job, she added.
Wilson called Trump a “dangerous demagogue, playing to the worst in people,” adding the likely Republican nominee’s remarks about women, religious groups and minorities make him unfit for office.
Horne, who is making his second try at unseating McMorris Rodgers, said he too was voting for Trump, although he started out supporting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and later switched to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
“The whole primary process was a repudiation of the establishment, and there’s nobody more establishment than Cathy,” Horne said.
McGee, a truck driver, said he switched this year from voting Republican all his life to running as a Libertarian.