GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Some Democrats were just too terrified.
“I couldn’t bring myself to do it,” Jim Rinck, chair of the Kent County Democratic Party here told me. “Yeah, sure let’s have the other side have chaos — but do you really want Rick Santorum, you know, winning? That’s a scary thought. Putting Rick Santorum in a position where, if you’re the nominee of a major political party, he could win. That seems awfully irresponsible to me.”
But other Democrats more than happy to follow the advice of progressives (and the Santorum campaign) and head to the polls in the Michigan GOP primary Tuesday, casting crossover votes for Santorum that are meant to harm Mitt Romney.
“The state of Michigan allows for us to cross over like this, so it’s not like it’s voter fraud,” said Lisa Viviano, a Democrat from Battle Creek. She crossed over and voted Santorum.
“I truly see it as a means to help re-elect our president and save our country from the true danger it would be put in by the extremists being offered up by the GOP,” she said. “Brokered convention? Bring it on! I want to see Obama win by an even larger margin than he did in 2008.”
Rachael Siemen of Port Huron crossed over for the first time, and also voted for Santorum.
“If their most crucial candidate quality is the ability to beat Obama then that’s a dirty trick being played on the American people,” she said of her vote. “They should try to use some ingenuity to come up with some new ideas.”
Ken Kolk was at one time the treasurer for his local Republican Party in the Wayland Township area. But now he’s a Democrat voting for Santorum, who he said is the weakest potential candidate for a Republican Party that that lost him years ago.
“When the religious right took over I left the party and became an independent, then a Democrat,” he said.
“Remember Michigan has a tradition of crapping on the presumed nominees and for us Romney has three strikes against him,” Kolk said.
One, he’s on record saying ‘Let Detroit Go Bankrupt’. Two, he apparently doesn’t know that the ‘conservative’ west side of the state, especially near Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Holland and Muskegon. Much of our industrial base is tied directly to the auto industry. …Three, he should have realized that the industrial middle class workers who are members of unions and know that they are part of the 99% and he is part of the 1% and we assume that his primary goal to to protect their low tax rates, if not lower them and stick it to us.
How many Democrats decide to follow the lead of these three could be a deciding factor when all is said and done in Michigan tonight.
Neil Yashinsky, a Democratic precinct chair in Troy (which he called a “conservative city of 80k”) told me that turnout was low — around 6.3% at 2 PM — and that only one official Democratic ballot had been passed. Anyone can vote, but they have to declare their party when they show up at the polling place to receive their ballot for their respective party (President Obama is theoretically on a Democratic primary ballot, but Democrats who vote today will be able to caucus next month when the party officially chooses its presidential candidate.)
Yashinsky said the fact that just one Democratic ballot had been cast was a good sign crossover votes are happening.
“A fair amount of potential for mischief,” he said.
Image from Sofia Santos/ Shutterstock