I am a recovering liberal Democrat. I was an Al Gore fanatic, and I recall having nightmares when imagining Mitt Romney in the white house. But today I call myself a Republican, a transformation that can be credited to Mayor Mike Bell.
Ironically, most of the staff on Bell’s campaign for mayor last year could be described as diehard liberals.
Toward the end of July 2013 I wanted to work on a political campaign. I was interested in what I perceived as a winning campaign. I knew Mike Bell from the gym and for several months kept reminding him to give me a shot.
I had also sent out an inquiry to Anita Lopez, who didn’t respond. Funny that I’d be in a completely different place politically had Lopez bothered to follow up with me.
If you’re diehard Mike Bell, then you cannot associate yourself with politicians in Ohio who sought to destroy him. This is my quixotic view of loyalty. I will hate who you hate, love who you love.
The Collins for mayor campaign started getting nasty toward November. One ad, sponsored by the Ohio Democratic Party, surmised that Mike Bell cared more about communist China than folks in Toledo. As a Chinese American, that hateful literature turned me off to the Democratic Party.
I also didn’t like the liberal treatment of the Marina District investors. Such rhetoric, in which Chinese investors were deemed deadbeat investors, came off as a challenge to my ethnic heritage.
Once the campaign ended, I wondered what political campaign to work on next. I had heard that John Kasich and Mike Bell were fans of each other. In working for Bell, I was indirectly helping Kasich.
Eventually, all the issues I cared so deeply about as a liberal came and went. In Kasich, there was a true and strong leader to follow. I looked up Chairman Jon Stainbrook’s cell number on the web and kept calling until finally meeting Stainbrook face to face in December.
My first few weeks were spent obtaining signatures for Kasich so he could be put onto the ballot. I sent in over 150 signatures in less than three weeks. I solicited during minus 40 degree weather. I even tried to walk during a couple level three emergencies, which is harder than it sounds.
That’s when I contemplated joining the Republican Party. I started to like Attorney General Mike DeWine. I got signatures for Justice Sharon Kennedy, who sent me a hand-written thank you note: I loved the gesture.
On primary day, I became a Republican.
I still hate Fox News. I also despise the local tea party, and I’m weary of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. However, as long as there’s leadership at the top, and Kasich is that leader, I will be Republican.
My views on certain subjects haven’t changed, but they are re-forming according to what John Kasich believes. My loyalty toward Mike Bell has transferred to Governor Kasich.