Law professor Jan Ting hangs his beliefs on the wall. Framed pictures of President George Bush Sr., President Ronald Reagan and countless other Republican officials decorate his office. Ting is in many of the photographs, shaking hands with famous conservatives.
One is not like the others: a Barack Obama poster hangs on his front door.
In the purple state of Pennsylvania, Ting’s disparate beliefs don’t seem that abnormal. But in his home state of Delaware, an even more purple state, that got him kicked out of the GOP.
In April, Delaware’s Republican regional chairman Bill Sahm and a district chairman invited Ting out for coffee. They had seen his donations to Obama’s campaign, which totaled $1,000 at the time. Ting has since donated $1,000 more. They had also examined a picture of Ting at an Obama rally in Wilmington, Del. In fact, many people had inspected the photograph and donations. Sahm told Ting that his actions had been discussed at “the highest levels of the state party.”
Because of his disloyalty, Ting said they requested his resignation from the Republican Committee, which he had been a member of for 25 years.
“They told me that I should put party interests above individual interests,” Ting said. “That sounds like something the Communist Party would say.”
Sahm’s story differs slightly. He said that Ting asked if they wanted him to resign. Sahm said they did, unless Ting swore allegiance to John McCain. He refused to support the Republican candidate.
Ting first questioned his loyalty to the Republican Party while serving the GOP in 2006. He was running as a Republican for the U.S. Senate, knocking on doors and trying to rally
conservative votes. It wasn’t an easy task. Lifetime Republicans told Ting that they were angry at the Bush administration. Many of them opposed the Iraq War and thought the administration was “making a mess of things.” Ting said he agreed.
But in late 2007, he was still planning to vote for a Republican president. In fact, he served as an adviser for then-presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani. He would have voted for Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee or Ron Paul. But the people chose McCain.
“I can’t support him. McCain’s too old, has a poor temperament, and makes too many gaffes,” Ting said. “I don’t agree with his stance on the Iraq War.”
On the other hand, Ting knew that Obama supports some of his deepest political beliefs. He supports a timely withdrawal from Iraq and a stronger military presence in Afghanistan. Ting also saw a bit of himself in Obama. They are both lawyers who attended Harvard Law School.
After hearing Obama’s speech in New Hampshire in early 2008, Ting’s decision was solidified. He donated money to the Democratic nominee, attended a rally in Wilmington, Del., and bought the Obama posters. He didn’t think it would be a problem. He’d seen members of the Republican Committee donate to Democratic candidates before.
“The fact that they kicked out such a low-level member reflects how insecure the Delaware Republican Party is,” Ting said.
Despite his admitted bitterness toward the party, Ting is still a registered Republican because he wants to vote in the primaries. It’s a sly move.
“I know the difference between the good guys and the bad guys,” he said. “I can help to weed the latter out.”
Holly Otterbein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.