Weekend win bolsters Trump’s Mich. campaign

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Fresh off a victory Saturday in the South Carolina primary, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s campaign is building a network of grassroots supporters in Michigan ahead of the March 8 primary the billionaire businessman has already predicted he will win.

Trump’s Michigan campaign has five full-time employees staffing offices in Farmington Hills, Grand Haven, Grand Rapids, Madison Heights and Rochester.

At least 24 Trump supporters are using their homes or businesses in less populated towns across the Lower Peninsula as distribution points for people to pick up yard signs and other materials, according to Trump campaign emails sent to Republican voters and obtained by The Detroit News.

“With this campaign, I’ve seen so many new people coming into the process, people who are not politically involved,” said Scott Hagerstrom, state director of Trump’s Michigan campaign. “Mr. Trump has captured their enthusiasm.”

Hagerstrom is a veteran of Michigan campaigns, having previously worked on the campaign that defeated the Proposal 1 sales tax increase last May and before that as state director of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political action group.

Trump hired Hagerstrom in December to run his Michigan campaign, just before attracting a crowd of 8,000 people at a basketball arena in suburban Grand Rapids four days before Christmas.

“This is like nothing I’ve ever seen,” Hagerstrom said of Trump support. “There’s so many people coming out of the woodwork wanting yard signs, T-shirts and hats.”

A Detroit News/WDIV-TV statewide poll conducted a week ago showed Trump capturing 25 percent support and leading a six-man Republican primary race that winnowed to five on Saturday after former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush dropped out following a fourth place finish in the South Carolina primary.

Trump had a 10-percentage-point lead over U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in the Detroit News/WDIV survey of 600 likely Michigan Republican presidential primary voters.

The poll was conducted Feb. 14-16 and showed 21 percent of likely voters remain undecided in the contest between Trump, Cruz, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

In late January, Trump predicted in an interview on CNN that he would win Michigan’s primary “because I protect the car industry” through cracking down on what he calls unfair trade policies with Mexico and China.


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