CARBONDALE, PA – A mayor’s endorsement of a presidential candidate in an election year is such a common political occurrence that it rarely garners anything other than strictly local press coverage. Such, however, was not the case with Justin Taylor, the mayor of Carbondale, a city located approximately 125 miles west of NYC in Pennsylvania’s Lackawanna County.
Rather, soon after announcing his support of President Trump in June, 2020, Taylor became a sought after and frequent guest on national radio and television political talk shows, including conservative commentator Steve Bannon’s nationally syndicated radio program, “War Room: Pandemic,’’ and has also been interviewed by a host of major statewide and national newspapers, including the widely circulated The National Pulse.
“At first, I was surprised that my endorsement of President Trump would receive so much media coverage, but maybe I should not have been,” said the mayor during a recent telephone interview.
Taylor, in fact, should not have been surprised by the wide spread media attention he received. The reason? Taylor is a Democrat, placing him among a very small number of Democratic mayors throughout the nation to support Trump’s reelection bid.
Explaining why he took the unusual step of switching party affiliation to endorse Trump, Taylor, 43, who was first elected 18 years ago as the city’s then 25 year-old mayor, told me.
“My decision to support President Trump was not difficult. My love of my country has always come before my party loyalty. From making our economy reach record highs before we were hit by Covid-19, to once again making America’s military the most powerful in the world, to making American energy independent for the first time in history, President Trump has kept his promise to ‘Make America Great Again.”’
“And I also support him,” Taylor added, “because by making America energy independent, he has boosted the economy of the entire oil and natural gas energy producing state of Pennsylvania. Citizens of Carbondale totally understand and appreciate this.”
“So I’m confident,” Taylor continued, “that voters of Carbondale will vote for the president in such overwhelming numbers that it might well be the margin that turns the battleground state of Pennsylvania in the president’s favor. Which is why many Pennsylvanians now say ‘the road to the White House runs through Carbondale.”’
That last claim might seem hyperbolic, until you take a careful look at the recent political history of Carbondale. While the party voter registration of Carbondale’s approximately 8,500 mainly working-class Catholic citizenry currently favors Democrats by about a 2-1 margin, that number declined from a 4-1 Democratic party advantage just a decade ago. And, even more notably, Trump in 2016 won the city over Hillary Clinton by a 2,132- 1961 count, a small but not insignificant amount in a state which the president won by only 41,000 votes.
With recent polls showing Trump trailing Biden by 4%, in Pennsylvania, a traditional Democratic turned Trump supporting city like Carbondale might, Taylor prognosticated, be able to supply the votes which will enable Trump to overcome that deficit.
“You see Trump signs everywhere you go in Carbondale, in homes, on the streets and on the roads,” stated Taylor. Then, referring to his earlier statement concerning the pivotal role that Carbondale might play in the election, Taylor added, “This is why I believe the president will hold on to virtually every vote he received four years ago [in Carbondale] and will also win the support of the overwhelming number of the Democrats and independents who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. If my forecast is accurate, which I am convinced it is, if Trump wins a razor thin victory in Pennsylvania, leading to his reelection, he well might have the voters of Carbondale to thank.’’
In addition to Carbondale, Taylor elaborated that there are dozens of other small cities in Pennsylvania that, like Carbondale, have more registered Democrats than Republicans, but polls show are leaning to the president by large enough margins to possibly produce a Trump victory in the state.
“Almost every other city in the region, such as Old Forge and Clarks Summit, is as pro-Trump as Carbondale. For these voters, it’s God, family, country and work,” stated Taylor. “Unfortunately, Biden and his every increasingly socialist, anti-American Democratic Party share the opposite values.
“And hearing Biden,” Taylor elaborated, “admit during the [second] debate that he plans to destroy the oil and natural gas industry will further convince Pennsylvanians that a Biden Presidency would be a disaster for families throughout the state and entire country.”
Not afraid to make a bold prediction, Taylor, the married father of one young child with another on the way, forecasted, “As more and more Democrats across Pennsylvania and across the nation realize that they and their families have been abandoned by Biden and his Democratic Party, they will turn out in huge numbers for the president, and he will win in a landslide.”
I suspect that President Trump hopes Taylor’s prediction comes true.