This Democrat switched parties to become a Trump delegate

Before Lisa Oles was a Republican hoping to become one of Colorado’s 37 delegates so she can support Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention, she was a registered Democrat and an elected trustee of the large suburban township of Austintown, Ohio.

“It was the rust belt,” she says of the place where she previously lived and worked. “Mahoning County is predominantly Democratic … basically if you’re a Republican, it’s very difficult to get elected.”

Though she was registered as a Democrat in Ohio and was elected to a non-partisan position, the 50-year-old real estate agent and paralegal says she considered herself an independent. She gave speeches in support of John McCain and Sarah Palin, but did not support Ohio Gov. John Kasich in part because of the way he negatively impacted her local township’s budget, and because of his anti-union views.

A year and a half ago she stepped down from her position and moved to the Loveland area in Colorado to care for her 98-year-old grandmother. Her husband took a high-paying job with Noosa Yogurt. She became a Republican, attended her neighborhood caucus on March 1, and decided to run for a spot as a national delegate pledged to Trump.

Related: This race for delegate shows why Colorado Republicans matter in the presidential race

“We switched parties because I was not agreeing with how left the Democrats have gone,” Oles says. “Donald Trump — I think that government needs to be run as a business. Who better to get us out of the … now going on a twenty-one trillion-dollar debt than a multi-billionaire? I am a huge supporter of veterans.”

That Trump is self-funding his own campaign appeals to her because she did the same in her own local races. He’s not owned by anyone, she says, agreeing with his position that large donors to politicians only donate because they want something in return.

As a voter and delegate hopeful, Oles feels national security trumps all else. Jobs and education come close behind.

But what about Trump’s inflamed rhetoric? His talk of U.S. soldiers slaughtering the families of suspected terrorists, say, or punishing women for having abortions?

“He’s not as articulate as some of these seasoned politicians, but we’re tired of that,” Olse says. “We want somebody that’s genuine, that tells us just the way it is. And it might not be something that you want to hear, and it’s not something that is not always pleasant to hear, but he tells us directly exactly how he feels on issues.”

Related: This U.S. Senate debate in Colorado showed what Donald Trump means for state-level races

And what of his shifting policy positions over the years?

“We’ve all done that,” Oles says. “There’s been times that he’s taken strong positions and he’s changed his opinion, but tell me one person running in this presidential election that hasn’t.”

How about his gravitas as a potential statesman?

“I’m not expecting Donald Trump to be an expert on everything,” she says. “But I will say this: I think the man is going to put the right people in the right positions. I don’t see him micromanaging. I think when it comes to national security and other social issues and things like that he’s going to put experts in his cabinet and they’re going to make the best decisions.”

As a female running for a man’s seat as a township trustee in Ohio, Oles says she knows what it’s like to go up against a political machine.

“So I understand what he says about how the media slants certain things,” she says. “I understand where he’s coming from.”

Now she’s running a different campaign as one of nearly a thousand Republican activists in Colorado vying for the coveted position of national delegate. She’s running at the state GOP convention held this weekend in Colorado Springs. Oles is pledged to Trump, who currently ranks second in Colorado’s pledged pool of hopeful delegates. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has wrapped up the early delegate pledges in Colorado and could potentially win a majority of them before the Saturday convention.

Related: How Ted Cruz could win Colorado’s delegates even before the state convention

John Kasich’s pledged delegate count is a distant third. The Ohio governor will not be attending the convention. Earlier this week it had seemed likely Trump would show up, but his plans at this time are uncertain.

In this former Ohio Democrat’s campaign to become a national Trump delegate from Colorado, Oles says she doesn’t feel her preferred candidate has deep support out here in the West.

“Sometimes he’s misunderstood, and he doesn’t really think things through, but he’s not a polished politician,” she says of Trump. “He’s just — I don’t want to say an average guy because he’s not average— he’s an overachiever, but I think that we can all strive to be an overachiever.”


  1. As I suspected. Ideological brainwashing. The Democratic Party has moved to the left? In what demented universe do you speak of. Moved to the center under Bill Clinton. President Obama is most likened to Dwight Eisenhower and now if elected, Clinton 2 will move it even farther to the right. Just “how right” are you?

  2. Goes to show you graphically the intellectual deficit of most office holders. They pander for the vote so they are intelligent enough to know they essentially lie. There is a sort of unconscious hate for anyone less than white or less than fortunate than they, the white fortunate who have money. It goes back to the start of this nation as colonialist-settlers who were willing to do the dirty work of the landed slave holders. It is the ego of the national psyche and hence is there to take anyone willing to drink the koolaid down that path.

  3. Lisa is emblematic of most Trump supporters. Well-meaning working class people who have played by the rules and lost in the global economy. I completely understand Trump’s appeal to those who feel abandoned by the two-party system that has favored the multinational corporations at the expense of working Americans.

    And as a former Democrat myself, I can attest to Oles’ observation that the party has indeed taken a hard left turn.

    Many of the trade and economic issues Trump rightly focuses on is what is driving his campaign. Unfortunately, Trump’s unreliability on conservative issues, specifically the Second Amendment and his insults of POWs make him a poor vessel for the message.

    Also troubling is Trump’s consistent gaffes on key foreign policy and domestic issues. Significant stumbles on the nuclear triad and NATO gives the appearance that he hasn’t thought very hard about the primary responsibilities of the Commander In Chief until very recently.

    As far as hiring the “best people,” well I hope they aren’t the same ones that ran his businesses into the ground.

    Trump would make a great Secretary of Commerce, but president?…Fugheddaboutit.

  4. Umm, no. A Democrat who gave speeches in support of John McCain and Sarah Palin is NOT a Democrat. It’s someone who was too lazy to change her dang voter registration.

    Please, this is just stupid.

  5. If she supported McCain and that grifter Sarah Palin, she was NEVER a democrat. I do mean NEVER. Jumping on the Trump train is par for the course. This is just propaganda. Stupidity at its’ best.

  6. Interesting to read the passionate posts. From what I am reading in some of these posts, you can only be considered a “true” party puppet if you vote party line and not for the individual, their qualifications or accomplishments. Sorry, that’s never how I rolled. MANY UAW auto workers that I know in Ohio, once staunch Democrats, have switched party affiliation this year to vote for Trump because he has been in the forefront with the issue of tariffs and bringing jobs back to America. Just another example of a disenchanted group of individuals who refuse to let the far left run our country into the ground. Xicano2nd2, I never had a “unconscious hate for anyone less than white”. You don’t know me. Your comment actually demonstrates your intellectual deficit. Can you post something of substance? No, Trump supporters aren’t racists. We don’t hate women, African Americans or Muslims. We do, however, love America and like Trump’s platform because he brings up issues that have needed to be talked about for a long time. Some people apparently have selective hearing. Mr. Viser, I do appreciate your well thought out comments although I do not agree with all of them. Mr. Luidl, yes, too far to the left. More entitlement programs than ever before and facing a 21 trillion dollar deficit as two examples. Our country’s foundation is crumbling and if we miss out on the opportunity to vote for a political outsider and one who is capable of putting Americans, our veterans, our military, our economy, our infrustructure, and our safety first then we are doomed.

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