Trump’s Speed Demon Hispanic Advisor

HispanicToday, the Republican National Committee and Donald Trump will hold a meeting of the National Hispanic Advisory Council for Trump. The event, at Trump Tower in New York, will include members from twelve states.

One member attending the meeting is lobbyist Jose Fuentes Agostini of Maryland. Earlier this month (on August 1 at 3:23 p.m.), Agostini was stopped by state police in Anne Arundel County. Online court records show that Agostini was charged with driving his 2017 Porsche at a speed of 95 mph or more in a 65 mph zone.  The case is marked as prepaid guilty so I presume he already paid the fine.

The picture above shows Agostini speaking on a panel at the National Hispanic Bar Association ahead of the 2000 elections. In the 2012 cycle, He bundled over $105,000 in contributions for the campaign of Mitt Romney and over $138,000 for all candidates.

Since 2000, He has contributed to campaigns including those of Spencer Abraham, George Allen, George W. Bush, Miriam Ramirez, Marco Rubio (Presidential), Carlos Romero-Barcelo, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Agostini also contributed to Marco Rubio’s Reclaim America PAC and to Phil Crane’s Fund for a Free Market America.

From 1997-2000, he was served as an appointed Secretary of Justice (Attorney General) in Puerto Rico. He has worked at Morgan Meguire, a government relations (lobbying) firm in DC and at Reed and Smith, LLP. He currently serves as Chairman of Eastport Strategies, LLC – which is another DC firm.

Agostini graduated from law school at the American University of Puerto Rico after receiving an undergraduate degree from the University of Tampa. He serves as Chairman of the Board at Operation Opsail, where one of his fellow board members is former Senator Chris Dodd.

Trump and Hispanic Voters

The National Hispanic Advisory Council for Trump has members from twelve states. However, only one of these members hails from California. The council also includes six members from Texas, four from Florida, and three from Colorado.

A story from Fox News Latino this week notes in its headline that “Trump has deepened wedge between GOP and Latinos.”

From the story:

Indeed, a new Fox News Latino poll shows that Latino party identification since 2012 is leaning even further toward the Democrats, with 60 percent choosing it as the party they identify with, compared with 21 percent identifying as Republican — a 6-point increase for Democrats since 2012.

“With his emphasis on ‘building a wall’ on our southern border to keep out ‘rapists and criminals,’ Trump has apparently magnified the natural issue advantage the Democrats enjoy among Hispanic voters,” said a summary that accompanied the poll, written by report co-author and  Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducted the Fox News Latino poll along with Democratic pollster Chris Anderson.

As for their view of the parties, 60 percent of Latinos reported having a favorable view of the Democratic Party, compared to only 25 percent for Republicans. The poll sampled 803 Latino registered voters, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

MD GOP Del. Impallaria charged with DWI

impallariaMaryland Delegate Rick Impallaria (R-Essex) was charged with driving a vehicle while impaired by alcohol Thursday evening at 8:12 in Ocean City. Bryan Sears of The Daily Record was the first to break the story.

Impallaria was parked illegally as he got into his pickup truck and started the engine on 82nd Street. A police officer noticed that he had an open container of alcohol and initiated a traffic stop.

According to the story, Impallaria failed to complete a field sobriety test and blew a 0.07 on a breathalyzer test.

He attended a Senate Republican Caucus reception at the nearby location of Ropewalk Tavern an hour earlier. In fact, Impallaria was quoted in a story on the reception by Michael Dresser of The Baltimore Sun. The reception was held to coincide with the Maryland Association of Counties conference.

More on Impallaria

Senator J.B. Jennings, who represents the same district in Harford and Baltimore Counties, hosted the reception Thursday night. Delegates Kathy Szeliga and Pat McDonough serve as Impallaria’s seatmates in the House.

It will be interesting to see if any Republicans call on Impallaria to resign. Several delegates from both parties called on former Delegate Don Dwyer to resign after his drunk driving and boating arrests. The MD GOP refrained from condeming Dwyer.

Will Szeliga, who is running for the U.S. Senate against Chris Van Hollen call on him to resign? Will McDonough, who is running for Congress, call on him to resign? Will Governor Hogan call on him to resign?

Stay tuned.

UPDATE:

Red Maryland blogger Brian Griffiths becomes the first person to call on Impallaria to resign.

Maryland Republicans against Trump

Maryland RepublicansThis week, a letter written to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus called on the Republican Party to shift money to down ballot races instead of spending it on the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. More than 110 people signed the letter, including at least two members of Congress. Several Maryland Republicans also signed the letter.

Former MD GOP Finance Chairman Rob Carter, who also served in the Bob Ehrlich Administration, appears on the list first alphabetically. Current Bowie City Councilman Michael Esteve also signed the letter. Esteve served as the State Chairman of College Republicans. Brian Griffiths of Red Maryland also signed the letter. Griffiths served as Chairman of Maryland Young Republicans and in regional and national office with the YRs.

Heather Olsen also signed the letter. Olsen went to the GOP convention as an alternate delegate in 2008 and served as Chair of the Prince George’s County GOP in the past. Chevy Weiss, former communications director of the MD GOP, also signed the letter.

Other Maryland Republicans

Governor Larry Hogan has also refused to endorse Donald Trump for President. I think he chose wisely in his decision. I do think his staff mishandled the public relations piece of that decision however. They should have made a decisive statement in the beginning instead of kicking the can down the road. That just caused them to be questioned even more about it. Politically, it won’t hurt Hogan. The only real protests have come from the usual soreheads and malcontents who complain about everything. Many of these people also supported Charles Lollar in the 2014 gubernatorial primary against Hogan.

Also this week, former Bob Ehrlich speechwriter and Helen Delich Bentley staffer Richard Cross penned an op-ed in The Baltimore Sun. In the piece, Cross notes that he wrote the Republican convention speech of Benghazi mom Patricia Smith in Cleveland this summer. He also writes that he can’t support Trump and is now leaning toward voting for Hillary Clinton. His piece was picked up by several other newspapers and websites and has been reported on many places as well. I expect he will also see some television coverage and appearances based on his role at the convention and his current voting plans.

I recently wrote about the fact that I left the GOP and won’t be voting for Donald Trump. I first wrote about this decision in a column published by The Daily Beast. I have also now submitted my name to be added to the letter mentioned in this blog post. I, Jeff Quinton, served as the vice chairman of the Laurens County (SC) GOP and as a state committeeman for the South Carolina College Republican Federation.

Plenty of other Maryland Republicans also won’t be voting for Trump or otherwise supporting him I’m sure.

Could Trump really lose South Carolina?

South CarolinaIn 1976, Jimmy Carter was the last Democratic nominee to win South Carolina in a presidential election. Could Hillary Clinton be the first Democrat to win the Palmetto State in 40 years?

A poll commissioned by the South Carolina Democratic Party was released by Public Policy Polling. Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton by a margin of 41% to 39%. Gary Johnson receives 5% and Jill Stein  got 2%.

Clinton wins 84% of Democrats in the poll. Trump only receives 77% of Republicans. Both Trump and Clinton are viewed favorably by only 38% of respondents. Clinton is viewed unfavorably by 55% of respondents while Trump’s unfavorability rating is 56%.

The same poll asked about favorability/unfavorability of other politicians in the state. Lindsey Graham’s favorability ratings show him underwater. His favorable rating comes in at 30% while his unfavorable rating lands at 54%. His unfavorables stay pretty much the same across the board among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.

Tim Scott and Nikki Haley fare better in the favorability rankings. Respondents gave Scott a favorable/unfavorable ranking of 45/28. He has the same poll numbers for his re-election bid in November. Respondents gave Nikki Haley a favorable score of 48% and an unfavorable score of 39%. Her favorable number dropped 8 points from the 56% it was last fall.

Be sure to read the full release of the poll that includes crosstabs and the language of the poll questions.  PPP is a Democratic Party firm so there might be some degree of house effect in their polling. However, these numbers look bad for Trump even if you assume they are off a bit.

Jonathan Last of The Weekly Standard summed things up nicely about the state of the national race:

Trump isn’t just behind in the big battleground states. No, what should scare sense into any sophisticated Republicans is that Trump is clinging to bare leads in Utah, Kansas, and South Carolina. He’s behind in Georgia. This is not a presidential race. It’s The Poseidon Adventure.

Nate Silver of 538 even noted the SC Trump-Clinton numbers match his model:

As a native of the Palmetto State who has observed politics there for a long-time – and even participated in them – I would still be really surprised if Trump lost the state. The fact that it’s even close at this point should be a concern for his campaign. Of course, if he loses SC, he would definitely lose the whole thing. There’s a good chance Trump would lose the whole thing even if he squeaked by there.

Just a reminder, I’m not voting for Trump and I left the GOP recently.

More on South Carolina

More results from the PPP poll:

  • 84% of voters support background checks for all gun purchases, including 82% of Republicans.
  • 81% of voters support barring gun ownership for people on the terror watch list, including 85% of Republicans.
  • 77% of voters support a raise in the minimum wage to ten dollars, including 67% of Republicans.
  • 78% of voters supported student loans being refinanced at lower rates.
  • 53% of voters support LGBT anti-discrimination laws.

In closing, I would still be a bit surprised if Trump lost SC, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he won by a single-digit margin.

Why I won’t vote for Trump & left the GOP

TrumpDonald Trump is not the nominee of any party, GOP or otherwise, of which I’m a member. I wrote about this decision in a column published last week at The Daily Beast but I wanted to provide more context here.

One quick note since some people expressed confusion or concern – I didn’t write the headline. I mentioned my support  for Pat Buchanan’s campaign in 1996 as a frame of reference.

I changed my Maryland voter registration from Republican to Unaffiliated the night the Republican National Convention officially nominated Trump as its party’s presidential candidate.

As I noted in the column, I won’t be voting for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. There’s very little chance I will vote for Gary Johnson at this point. Jill Stein is the only other candidate on the ballot here in Maryland. So,  won’t be voting for any of those three candidates.  I will write someone in or I may even leave the line for president blank as a protest.

Clinton will win Maryland’s electoral votes no matter what I do. If I hit my head on the way to vote and lost all my principles and voted for Trump, Clinton would still win Maryland.

I will vote for Kathy Szeliga, a pro-life conservative, for the U.S. Senate. I will also vote to re-elect Congressman Andy Harris, who has a great pro-life track record.

Why I Won’t Vote for Trump

I won’t vote for Trump because he is a hateful voice, not an optimistic one. He would fence off Reagan’s Shining City on a Hill. Trump is a moral reprobate with serious character issues, as is Hillary Clinton.

I also noted several reasons for not supporting Trump in my column at The Daily Beast.

As a veteran who served as an intelligence analyst, I place a great deal of importance on foreign policy and national security issues.

The Republican nominee’s appeal to the “alt right” concerns me as well as I noted in my column:

Trump’s appeals to the “alt-right” are nothing but a dog whistle for the fringes of the Republican Party. I have seen them get caught up in questionable conspiracy theories. They post about “false flag” theories after mass shootings that were supposedly were arranged in support of gun control. Jewish critics of Trump have been threatened and ridiculed for daring to question anything the man says. Polls show self-identifying evangelical Christians largely support him—a fact that leaves many observers scratching their heads.

As someone who has worked in the pro-life movement professionally at the national level and as a volunteer locally, I don’t trust Trump’s lip service and ignorance on the issues. Even if some pro-lifers want to sell out to him for power, influence, and access, I don’t think he’s reliable at all on court appointments or defunding Planned Parenthood.

Maybe I would have had more of a struggle on this bittersweet decision to leave the GOP and not vote for its nominee if I lived in a swing state. I’ve voted for the Republican nominee for president every time since 1992. I don’t take this decision lightly and I put a lot of thought and prayer into it.

I don’t support a candidate just because of the “team” they are on. I will continue to pray for our country and our elected officials, no matter who they are.


About Jeff Quinton