Delaware Republican Evans is in Kasich’s corner

Former Delaware Congressman Thomas B. Evans Jr., left, backed Ronald Reagan for president in 1980. (Submitted photo/Delaware Public Archives)

Former Delaware Congressman Thomas B. Evans Jr., left, backed Ronald Reagan for president in 1980. (Submitted photo/Delaware Public Archives)

Everyone’s wondering whether Donald Trump’s “disaster” — to use one of his favorite words — of a week will slow his momentum.

And, in turn, Delawareans might just have a meaningful primary on April 26, after all. For a long while, it seemed like Delaware was looking like the Little Leaguer sitting on the bench through a long game, only to get on the field for one last, play-it-out inning.

A Trump loss in Wisconsin, the experts say, means he would have to win a daunting 60 percent of the delegates remaining. If not, who knows what might play out at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland?

“Sometimes having a later primary is not as important as an earlier one,” former Delaware congressman and former Republican National Committee co-chair Thomas B. Evans Jr. told this editor on Thursday. “I’m sorry we didn’t, but at least we’re having one.”

Mr. Evans is the honorary chair of Gov. John Kasich’s Delaware committee. He sees Gov. Kasich as the Republicans’ only hope to win the presidency.

From the Editor logo copy copy“It does look like a pivotal moment (in Wisconsin),” Mr. Evans said.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is leading in the polls in Wisconsin, with Mr. Trump second and Ohio governor John Kasich third.

He noted Gov. Kasich is at 22 percent in the polls, but “people make up their minds late.”

“I think he’s No. 2 for all the people that support Trump and I think he’s No. 2 for all the people that support Cruz,” Mr. Evans said. “If something does happen that they start peeling off votes, I think he’ll get them.”

***

Mr. Evans has been around the presidential selection process for quite some time.

He was a Delaware delegate and gave a seconding speech when Gerald Ford was nominated in 1976. Readers may recall that the 1976 Republican convention was a contested one, with Ford pitted against Ronald Reagan.

In 1980, Mr. Evans was in the core group that rallied behind Ronald Reagan.

“I really liked Ronald Reagan (in 1976) but I felt compelled to vote for Gerry Ford because he was a sitting Republican president,” Mr. Evans said. “I met again with then-Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1977 and I said, “Governor, I’m going to make it up to you.’ And, I did.”

Mr. Evans was chair of the congressional committee for Reagan. He associated with Trent Lott, Jack Kemp, Bob Walker, Paul Laxalt, Ed Meese and others during that time.

“Most of them, that are still alive, are supporting John Kasich,” said Mr. Evans.

Like many folks have, Mr. Evans notes how crowded the field was when the Republican debates began and all the tumult and shouting played out.

“Seventeen candidates! I mean you had to be very loud and very much, shall I say, ungentlemanly,” said Mr. Evans. “You couldn’t be a gentleman about it because you had to interrupt all the time, and the only way you got any time at all was to do that. Of course, we had some very loud candidates.”

For many of the televised debates, Gov. Kasich was left standing off to the side and had to butt in to be heard.

***

Mr. Evans said people should consider Gov. Kasich’s record as a U.S. congressman and chairman of the budget committee in 1997 — the last time the country had a balanced budget. And, he points out the Kasich success with turning around Ohio’s budget deficit.

“He’s far and away the most qualified person to be the president,” Mr. Evans said.

“Unlike some others, I think he still has a chance. I wish he had started earlier. The more people get to know him and know about him, they would think, ‘Gosh, he would be a good president.’”

Mr. Evans said he has known Gov. Kasich for some time, but joked that he learned a lot about him out on the course.

“You can tell a lot about a person when you play golf with them, whether they’re really honest and whether or not they care about others and not just themselves,” Mr. Evans said. “By the way, he’s a pretty good golfer.”

At this time, it’s not certain that Gov. Kasich will make a stop in Delaware before the primary but Mr. Evans said he’ll call him and ask him to come around.

***

Before our brief conversation ended, Mr. Evans, now 84 and living in Wilmington, said he is concerned about the issues our country faces here and abroad.

“There’s more polarization than I’ve ever seen,” Mr. Evans said. “That is reflected in this primary battle. I was talking to a bunch of people, as I do when I go places, and they ask, ‘What do you think, Tom?’

“One said, ‘You would vote for somebody other than a Republican?’ What a crazy question. I’m going to vote for the most qualified person. I don’t see anyone out there other than John Kasich at the moment.”

Mr. Evans, who was raised in Seaford as the son of a DuPont Co. engineer, was Delaware’s lone congressman from 1977 to 1983, succeeding fellow Republican Pete du Pont.

He lost his re-election bid for a fourth term to now-U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., in what was one of the roughest elections in Delaware history.

He said he would not fit in today in Washington, D.C., noting the work he did with Democrats and Republicans on such things as the Coastal Barrier Resources Act and Alaska land conservation.

“That doesn’t happen today,” he said. “People there, they don’t even like each other.”

Reach Executive Editor Andrew West at awest@newszap.com

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