Author reflects on local GOP voters making the jump from Kemp to Trump

May 13, 2016

Many Erie County Republicans are enthusiastically embracing Donald Trump's push for the Presidency. A national author with regional connections compares Trump's popularity and politics with another local GOP stalwart, the late Jack Kemp. 


The late Jack Kemp served in Congress from 1971 to 1989.
Credit WBFO file photo

Author Jeffrey Frank recalled the former Western New York Congressman in a piece at New Yorker.com entitled, "The Ghost of Jack Kemp."

The article was prompted by a comment from House Speaker Paul Ryan who referred to the Republican Party as "the party of Lincoln, Reagan and Jack Kemp."

During his time on the editorial staff of the Buffalo Courier-Express, Jeffrey Frank got to know Kemp, who may be remembered better today as a championship quarterback than as a champion of  Republican ideas.

"Kemp was also a very strong advocate of lifting the poor," Frank recalled.

"He talked about Enterprise Zones in the inner city. He talked particularly of lifting African-Americans."

Kemp served Western New York in Congress from 1971 to 1989. Later, President George H.W. Bush appointed him as his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

"He really viewed America as a land of opportunity and he wanted everyone to have these opportunities," Frank said.

Kemp's popularity in Western New York is clear. The same may be said for Donald Trump, who Congressman Chris Collins recently predicted would win 65 percent of the Erie County vote in the November election.

"I agree with Chris Collins, Trump is probably going to carry Erie County," said Frank.

He believes a Trump win with the local electorate may also reflect "the weaknesses of Mrs. Clinton even though she's a Senator from New York State."

"She's not a great campaigner and a great connector with people when she campaigns and that's something that Trump  has."   

Frank is curious to see who Trump will select as his running mate. While some are pushing for a more centrist candidate, it's not clear if that traditional path will be followed.

"He doesn't seem to be changing anything, even building his wall which is not going to help him win votes."

Nonetheless, primary voters continue to back Trump's candidacy. It's a style that has also been embraced by Erie County Republicans, who three decades ago supported Kemp, as the former quarterback tossed around ideas that have been dropped from the current conversation.  

"I don't think Kemp would have a place in the Republican Party today."