Political Notebook

Valley Trump delegates weigh in their candidate’s presidential victory

Fresno businessman Michael Der Manouel Jr. has been a longtime Donald Trump supporter and was a delegate at this summer’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Fresno businessman Michael Der Manouel Jr. has been a longtime Donald Trump supporter and was a delegate at this summer’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Tom Fife saw it coming. Michael Der Manouel Jr. wasn’t quite as certain, even though he called it with a final email to some of his employees.

Donald Trump is now the president-elect, and the two central San Joaquin Valley supporters couldn’t be happier -- or more hopeful.

Both Der Manouel, a Fresno businessman, and Fife, a Visalia businessman and stockbroker who once headed the Tulare County Republican Central Committee, were Trump delegates this past summer at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

“Liberals didn't see it coming because they don’t talk to anybody but liberals,” Der Manouel said.

He visited a half dozen swing states on business in the weeks leading up to the election, and he “knew things were going on.” He talked to cabbies. He talked to laborers. Something was in the air.

The last email he sent predicted, among other things, Trump narrowly winning by taking away an Upper Midwest state from Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party candidate. The win was actually more convincing than Der Manouel predicted.

Fife, on the other hand, has been writing in support of Trump since 2012 and had “had money” on him since his June 2015 that he was running for the nation’s highest office.

He thinks the pollsters who all predicted a narrow Clinton win got it wrong because their polling relied on likely voters, and many Trump supporters were first time or occasional voters.

Fife also called it “a proper victory,” with no questionable voting irregularities or controversies over “hanging chads” like those in the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore.

“He managed to win the chess game with less in the popular vote but with an overwhelming enough showing that he is president,” Fife said. “Whatever the rules, Trump played by them.”

Now Trump is president-elect, and Der Manouel likes what he is seeing from Clinton and President Obama. Another peaceful transfer of power is on the way.

“I’m very proud of what Hillary Clinton and President Obama are doing,” he said. “They are being magnanimous. They are putting the country before themselves.”

Trump protesters are a different story.

“The psychotic children who refuse to accept the election result and insist on protesting, they're the ones that would disrupt the American transition,” he said. “It isn't conservatives. It is anarchists and spoiled millennials that are causing problems in our streets, and we just have to ignore them.”

After Trump is sworn in, Fife and Der Manouel expect challenges -- after all, governing is different than campaigning -- but they also think Trump has some good ideas about the economy, budgeting and immigration.

Fife noted Trump’s highly criticized visit to Washington D.C. during the campaign to christen his new hotel. The takeaway, Fife said, was that it was built “on time and under budget and it is a beautiful facility.” He sees that as a template for how Trump will lead.

But the pressure is one, as the Republican Party has the kind of power over the federal government it hasn’t held in nearly a century.

“They handed him the whole hammer,” Fife said of Trump’s Beltway power.

Der Manouel hopes Trump and Congress move fast. The first six months of next year, he said, will be the best window of opportunity for real change. And Der Manouel hopes water for the central San Joaquin Valley is part of those changes.

Still, he will “reserve judgment until I see what (Trump) does,” Der Manouel said.

He hopes Trump leads on the international stage with an “aura of unpredictability,” which Der Manouel called “a tremendous asset. You don’t want to be predictable. It’s a game of chess, and you don’t want to tell everyone what your next decision is. You should be a little crazy once in awhile.”