In a city where 76 percent of registered voters are Democrats, where the majority of residents are people of color and where Donald Trump has been publicly dissed by local leaders, the idea that he will become the District’s newest resident was coolly received Wednesday.
“I don’t like it at all,” said Karen Samuel, a 38-year-old home health aide, who said she was still in a state of disbelief. “I saw the commercial of him making fun of that disabled reporter. That’s horrible. I don’t think it’s going to work here.”
Katie McDonnell and her husband are considering renting out their D.C. home to live abroad near family members in Ireland. It’s not just that the couple wants to flee their country because they disagree with Trump’s politics.
“I’m afraid it will change the city, just because of the Trump supporters who may come here, and who he will hire and bring,” said McDonnell, a 41-year-old teacher who has lived in the District for 15 years. “I am a little worried.”
Trump pulled off an impressive upset Tuesday night to clinch the presidency, but in the nation’s capital the Republican got 11,000 votes, or 4 percent, his lowest share in any state. By comparison, Clinton got more than 260,000 votes.
Trump will have the prickly task of running the country from the very place that wanted him there the least.
“He doesn’t even care. It’s going to be bad, period,” said Kim Jones, a 44-year-old cook at D.C. Public Schools, adding that she expects Trump to be no better for the District than he will be for the rest of the country.
The city’s political establishment has made its animus toward Trump clear. When he formally celebrated the opening last month of his $212 million luxury hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, local leaders — including Mayor Muriel E, Bowser (D) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) were nowhere in sight. Those who came, such as Latino union workers, were there to stage a protest.
In 2015, Bowser called Trump’s more incendiary remarks “idiotic” but said that she still wanted his hotel in the city and the tax revenue it would bring. But Bowser turned on him in October after Trump incorrectly stated in a presidential debate that “killings have risen by 50 percent” in the nation’s capital.
Shaking my head at Donald Trump, “who comes to DC for profit on the 1 hand, badmouths it on the other,” Bowser tweeted in response.
Norton said that the hotel opening was essentially just a political event, and it would have been inappropriate for her to attend.
But she said Wednesday morning that she has had successful relationships with Republican presidents in the past, and D.C. residents should view his presidency with an open mind — even if they have felt insulted by his past comments about women, Muslims, Latinos and African Americans.
“This is old hat for me,” she said. “I’ve always had to separate the Republican president’s ideological views with his obligation to help the people of the District of Columbia. I have no reason he will be hostile to the District.”
The president and the people who live near him share a unique relationship. The president and Congress hold considerable clout over how the mayor and D.C. Council spend tax dollars and use the powers granted to them by Congress under home rule.
Bowser vowed to try to work with Trump, during an interview on WAMU-FM on Wednesday morning.
“Our job here is to run our city, and we are running our city in a very effective way,” Bowser said. “We are attracting residents and businesses, and we expect from a President Trump what we would have quite frankly from a President Clinton — to support the things that are important to D.C. residents.”
A change in administrations always means change in the local population, as people move in and out of the city.
But the transition from the Obama presidency to Trump’s could be more stark than usual. observers say. Obama brought a youthful energy to the city, attracting young and diverse staffers. Obama’s presidency also overlapped with the massive D.C. population boom and, subsequently, with the explosion of the city’s restaurant, entertainment and luxury-condo scene. Over the past eight years, Washington seems to have shaken off its reputation as a staid, suited-up town and transformed into something of a hip city.
The result of Tuesday’s election was especially disappointing for the city’s political leaders because Clinton had made it clear during her campaign that she would back statehood for the District, while Trump said, “I think statehood is a tough thing for D.C.,” and, “I don’t see statehood for D.C.”
“There had been great hope that the new President and the new Congress would be the friendliest to the District that we’ve seen in decades,” D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) wrote in an email. “The challenge is on us to work with the next administration to ensure that Congress recognizes the importance of Home Rule and finds ways to be supportive, not oppositional, of our local Government.”