Young Professionals for Trump open Louisville office hoping to boost grassroots support

08/20/2016 07:45 PM

LOUISVILLE — A newly formed group of conservative business owners in Jefferson County hope to give grassroots support for the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump while also providing a networking resource for members.

Young Professionals for Trump opened its campaign base in Fern Creek on Saturday, and from there, volunteers will man phone banks or grab canvassing material before walking door-to-door.

About 30 Trump supporters attended the opening, and Jeff Klusmeier, chairman of Young Professionals for Trump, said he’s received interest from about 50 people looking to join. The group will be “focusing on Trump exclusively,” he said.

“We’re going to be a professional networking organization, like when we have our event in September, we’re going to let members or anybody who shows up come and talk about their business, talk about the struggles they’ve had, promote their products,” Klusmeier told reporters.

“We want people not just to work on a campaign, but we want them to network. We want them to get to know each other, not just volunteer and leave.”

Kenneth Geisler, state director for the Trump campaign’s Kentucky operations, says he expects similar grassroots groups to emerge in northern and southeastern Kentucky, a point echoed by Klusmeier.

“We had tremendous support during the primary in Eastern Kentucky,” Geisler told Pure Politics. “It was just incredible the amount of support we got there, and we know we’re going to have that again because we already have reports coming in that people are really excited about the campaign, and we’re looking forward to a really great turnout in Eastern Kentucky.”

While Young Professionals for Trump are looking for younger supporters, polling has shown that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton leads Trump within that demographic.

A USA Today/Rock the Vote Poll released on Sunday had voters 35 and under supporting Clinton over Trump 56 percent to 20 percent.

Supporters at Saturday’s opening said the GOP nominee still has time to boost his support among young voters.

“The same thing with every demographic, you could say that Hillary’s maybe polling a little further ahead, but ultimately it’s going to come down to economic issues, and that’s one of Trump’s strongpoints because he’s for less taxes, less regulation,” Klusmeier said. “He wants to deregulate the coal industry, bring these coal jobs back to Kentucky.”

Geisler predicted that if millennial-aged voters looked further at economic issues like the H1B visa program for high-skilled immigrant workers, Trump’s support within that demographic would improve.

“Hillary has basically sold out to Wall Street on this issue, and she wants to allow foreign nationals to come into the United States, take high-tech jobs away from Americans,” he said. “I think the millennials will see that they have a vested interest in keeping those IT jobs in American hands.”

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, who was recently named to a panel of agricultural advisors to Trump, also believes Trump has time to appeal to millennial voters, particularly through social media. The GOP nominee has gained notoriety for his use of Twitter during the presidential campaign.

“A lot of millennials and young Kentuckians get on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram every day,” he said. “It’s important that we have a robust presence there to reach out to a new generation of voters.”

In the meantime, it will rest on the shoulders of supporters like those at Saturday’s campaign office opening to reach voters on a personal level.

“People are willing to take the initiative on their own to do this, and I think that the campaign at a national level is more concerned about going into swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida’s up for play, possibly Illinois,” Geisler said.

“I think the national campaign is concerned about getting resources there, and they realize there’s enough support for Mr. Trump in the states like Kentucky where people are going to take initiative, just like the people did here today, to bring those states in on Election Day for Mr. Trump.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

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