In 2016, Sue Humes, a dairy farmer from Erie County, held her nose and voted for Hillary Clinton for president. The lifelong Republican said she was “in the closet” about supporting the former first lady, and didn’t want her friends to know.
Four years later, Humes is facing no such challenge when it comes to Donald Trump. She’s voting for former Vice President Joe Biden, and believes four more years of Trump would be a disaster for the country.
“This time around, if we don’t make a change now, I’m afraid that, in four years, the Republican Party will not exist,” Humes said Thursday during a conference call organized by Biden’s campaign touting Republican support for the Democratic nominee.
“He is not a leader. He is a dictator,” Humes continued. “And maybe we should all brush up on our Russian, because that’s where we’re going.”
Humes was joined on the call by former U.S. Rep. James C. Greenwood, a former Pennsylvania state lawmaker who represented what’s now the Bucks County-based 1st Congressional District for six terms until 2004. Tracey Specter, the daughter-in-law of the late U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa.
The press event came hours before Trump was set to deliver his acceptance speech from the White House’s South Lawn in the final act of this week’s Republican National Convention.
Greenwood and Specter, both lifelong Republicans, are part of a growing cadre of members of the high-profile GOP pols, such as former U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., former U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and ex-Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who have announced they’re backing Biden.
Kasich, who addressed last week’s Democratic National Convention, decried the division that’s been sown and allowed to flourish on Trump’s watch. And while noted that there are areas where he and Biden disagree, he knew the former vice president “is a good man, a man of faith,” and “someone who understands the hopes and dreams of the common man and common woman.”
Specter, a Republican activist in suburban Philadelphia and a community volunteer, offered a similar sentiment. She said Trump lacked the empathy to bring the country together to fight the range of challenges — from a struggling economy and the still raging COVID-19 pandemic to the protests for racial justice nationwide that have now expanded to include Kenosha, Wisc., after the police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake last Sunday.
“The Republican Party I embrace is a big tent and respects a variety of opinions,” she said. “Trump is the opposite of this. He has hurt the party with his extremism and negativity. As a result, there are fewer Republican officeholders in our state.”
Greenwood, who led a biotech trade group after leaving office, similarly said he was concerned about the long-term viability of the GOP, and predicted that Republicans could lose control of the U.S. Senate in November by being tethered to an unpopular incumbent.
“It will be a real test of the party nationwide to break loose of this legacy of Trump,” he said. The same holds true of finding “candidates with positions consistent with the values of the party.”