Cellphones in hand, they lined up to snap selfies and snag items that will someday be pieces of history. They came for yard signs, political buttons and T-shirts.
A day before Donald Trump brought his GOP presidential campaign to a rally at Everett’s Xfinity Arena, ardent supporters stopped by the Snohomish County Republican Party’s booth at the Evergreen State Fair.
The Republicans are at one end of commercial building 400 at the Monroe fairgrounds, while the Snohomish County Democrats have a booth at the other end. On Monday, a stand-up cutout of Trump was drawing crowds.
“I like Trump. He tells it like it is,” said Cece Ahles, 69, of Lake Stevens. Posing with the candidate’s cardboard image, Ahles said she watched Trump on “The Apprentice” TV show. “He’s a down-to-earth guy,” she said.
If you missed Trump’s whirlwind stop in Everett on Tuesday, or counter demonstrations outside, both political booths will be open at the fair through Monday.
Jane Coates, a booth volunteer and member of the Snohomish County Republican Women’s Club, said people were mostly seeking buttons and yard signs. “We’ve got a good supply,” said Coates, who lives in unincorporated Snohomish County. She was there with her husband, Paul Coates. He said he believes Trump will “clean up the mess we’re in now.”
Backers of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign stopped by the Democrats’ booth, but in smaller numbers than at the GOP booth. Those wanting to pose for selfies with a cardboard Clinton were out of luck — there wasn’t one, nor was there free Dubble Bubble gum, which the Trump camp offered.
There was no lack of zeal, though, among Clinton supporters who chatted with Laura Lewis. The 77-year-old Lewis was staffing the booth. She is first vice chairwoman of the Snohomish County Democrats, treasurer of the 10th Legislative District Democratic organization, and a precinct committee officer from Stanwood.
Lauren Chaykin, 31, and her mother, Julie Chaykin, 58, were at the Democrats’ booth to get a “Clinton-Kaine” yard sign. Their Bothell neighborhood has mostly Trump signs, they said.
But Lauren Chaykin was happy to see “Hillary for America” boldly painted on the side of a barn along I-90 near Ellensburg. She saw it while on her way to a power-lifting competition in early August. Excited by the possibility of a female president, she admires Clinton’s strength.
At the Trump booth, Arlington’s Jim Brown, 73, and his wife, Mary, said they had tickets to the big rally. “He’s not the status quo,” Jim Brown said when asked about Trump.
Chic Hendricks, who lives near Monroe, believes Trump is the best bet because of his business experience. “I’ve followed Trump for years. I’m not surprised he is the nominee,” the 70-year-old Hendricks said. His wife, Lana Hendricks, also likes Trump’s vice presidential choice. She described Mike Pence as “a good Christian man.”
Corey Ingebretsen is also impressed by the GOP candidate’s business acumen. “I feel that he speaks for me,” said Ingebretsen, 45, who lives near Mount Vernon. Herb and Wendy Metz, of the Silver Lake area, like that Trump speaks his mind without regard to what they see as political correctness.
One man with a keen interest in government isn’t taking sides publicly, but did make an online offer to his Advanced Placement students. “You can get AP Gov credit for going,” Darrick Hayman posted on Twitter on Friday.
Hayman teaches AP U.S. history and AP U.S. government and politics at Lake Stevens High School. He requires students to attend public meetings conducted by elected officials. For this “very exciting presidential year,” Hayman said he’s telling students that attending a political rally can also count for class credit.
Hayman said he talked with students about Trump after the real estate magnate announced his candidacy. Back then, he couldn’t see Trump becoming the GOP presidential nominee. “It turns out now, he’s the candidate,” said the teacher, who volunteered at the fair Monday.
Whether November brings a Trump or Clinton victory, for Hayman it will be a teachable moment. Either way, he hopes to take a group of students to the inauguration in January.