After growing up as a Democrat, Chris Robling became a Republican 40 years ago when he was a college student. The Riverside resident has been active in Republican politics ever since, serving as the press secretary for a Republican congressman in the 1980s and managing a Republican mayoral campaign in Chicago in 1987.
But this year Robling says it is difficult for him to support Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for president. Robling won’t even commit to voting for Donald Trump.
“That’s an open question right now,” Robling said when asked if he would vote for Trump. “I don’t know how I can support a candidate who is insulting everybody all the time.”
Robling said that he is very disappointed with the Trump campaign thus far.
“I’m very disappointed with his activity since the convention,” Robling said. “Unfortunately, this tends to confirm the worst expectations, which we hoped to avoid.”
A public relations specialist, Robling serves as a political commentator for WGN-TV where he is charged with presenting the Republican point of view. That’s never been harder in a presidential campaign than it is now, he says.
“This is far more of a challenge that I have faced since becoming a Republican in July of 1976,” Robling said.
Robling didn’t endorse any presidential candidate in the primary.
“I was never a Trump person and I always had pretty serious reservations and questions about Trump which, as I say, are unfortunately proving somewhat prophetic,” Robling said.
However, Trump supporter Eric Sawchuk, who serves as the vice president of the board of the Proviso Township Mental Health Commission and is former member of the Brookfield Village Board, says that he thinks Trump just had a bad patch and will soon get back on course.
“The last couple weeks have been somewhat of a minor setback, since the Democratic Convention,” said Sawchuk, who was elected as Trump delegate to the Republican convention. “Going forward I believe that he will fare very well once he gets the message out and stays on the course and focuses on Secretary Clinton and focuses on his platform.”
Mike Dropka, the head of the Riverside Republican Township Organization is now behind Trump after running for delegate to the convention to the Republican primary as a supporter of Ohio governor John Kasich.
“The Republican voters in the township spoke, and I’m going to follow their lead,” Dropka said.
Perhaps no GOP member is more opposed to Trump than conservative activist Steve Baer. Baer, a Riverside resident who ran for governor in 1990 but lost in the primary to Jim Edgar, says that he spent more than $10,000 opposing Trump in the Republican primaries.
“He’s evil, he’s ignorant, he’s bellicose, he’s unstable and he shouldn’t be president,” Baer said.
Baer said that he and his family have been opposing Trump since the South Carolina primary in February.
“I’m absolutely convinced that he is an evil man,” Baer said. “We’ve been working our finger nails to the bone, basically,” Baer said.
Baer is so passionate about the cause that he has he has been trying to call attention to a federal lawsuit filed by an anonymous woman who claims that she was raped by Trump in 1994 at a sex party hosted by financier Jeffery Epstein at Epstein’s Manhattan mansion.
The allegations and the lawsuit have been reported on by a few national publications including the New York Daily News, but it hasn’t received a lot of traction.
He’s gone so far as to send a DVD to a few prominent Republicans and the editor of the Washington Post which shows a woman, wearing a blonde wig, outlining the allegations.
Baer’s son personally delivered a copy of the DVD to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s house in Janesville, Wisconsin. Six days later, said Baer, he received a visit from an FBI agent.
Baer said that he had a pleasant 30-minute conversation with the agent who, Baer says, understood his First Amendment rights.
Baer faults Trump for saying that he will deport 14 million undocumented immigrants who are currently living in the United States and for not welcoming refugees from the Middle East.
Baer was active in the Never Trump movement and tried to get the delegates at the Republican convention to approve a rules change that would have unbound delegates and let them vote their conscience.
He still hopes that Trump can be forced from the race.
“Right now, I’d take [Democratic nominee] Hillary [Clinton] and divided government versus Trump and united government,” Baer said.