New York City’s red state finally got its revenge.
Staten Island voters overwhelmingly backed Donald Trump on Tuesday, bucking not only Hillary Clinton, but the other four Democrat-heavy boroughs.
"Of course it’s vindication," said retired NYPD detective John Sellenthin as he gladly posed next to the "Trump/Pence" sign in front of his cozy Castleton Corners home. "The media, the Establishment, the liberals all wanted Hillary Clinton. And I said, ‘Of course I’m doing the opposite!’"
This victory was particularly sweet because the professionals on the other side of the Harbor were so sure it wasn’t going to happen. But the final vote tally — Trump with 57%, or 97,612 votes, to Clinton’s 40%, or 67,561 votes is no surprise to any resident of the mostly white borough that sent Rudy Giuliani to City Hall and backed John McCain against History in 2008.
This island is not only surrounded by water, but it appears at times to completely cut off from facts, too.
Arlene and John Sellenthin, of Castleton Corners, Staten Island, said they voted Trump because he’s “honest.”
“There are five reasons I voted for Trump,” said Mike Frange, 63, of Oakwood. “One, Obamacare is a disaster. Two, regulations are killing business. Three, the economy should be growing at 4%. Four, he’s against free trade, you know, Napster, so that companies like Carrier can’t move to Mexico.”
Obviously, Frange meant NAFTA, not Napster, which is a long-gone file sharing system, but I decided to ask him if he realized that free trade helps consumers like him when they buy, say, one of those Carrier air conditioners.
“That doesn’t matter because it’s taking away our jobs,” he said.
Fine. What was number five, by the way?
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“Oh yeah,” he added. “Let’s build that wall.”
Now, even Margaret Mead journalists know about Trump’s physical barrier to keep out illegal immigrants from Mexico. But I was surprised by where Frange’s support for the wall took him next:
“We have to keep these immigrants out,” Frange added. “She was going to let in thousands of Syrian refugees. And we all feel sorry for what’s happening in Syria, but the first priority is to defeat ISIS, which Obama failed to do and Hillary made it worse with Benghazi and the emails and I could go on and on, like look at who she is associated with: Anthony Weiner.”
I asked if there was anything he didn’t like about Trump, but Frange said that even Trump’s flaws were his strengths.
Donald Trump — beloved in Staten Island.
“He’s not too experienced, but that’s even better because he’s a businessman who can negotiate and will bring in the right people with him,” he said. “Does he have a slip of the tongue every once in a while? Of course. But everybody does. He’ll learn. He’ll be around smart people.”
There was no use arguing. Besides, this was Frange and Sellenthin’s day to savor victory. It was especially sweet to local GOP leader Sam Pirozzolo, who had put up a massive, red, white and blue “T” sign on his Manor Road home earlier this year only to see it burned to the ground in an anti-Trump attack.
He rebuilt the “T” and told me, “Today, it stands for ‘Triumph.’”
He said Staten Island has been reliably Republican since the Verrazano Bridge was built in the 1960s.
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“All of a sudden, all these renters move over from Brooklyn and buy houses — suddenly they’re paying taxes and they see we don’t have any transit over here, any services,” he said. “Staten Islanders are more payers than receivers. And that makes you question what we’re paying taxes for.”
Or, in the case of Trump, not paying taxes for.
I reminded a man in a “Make America Great Again” hat the Trump apparently hasn’t paid federal taxes in years, but he didn’t care.
“Whatever he did was within the law,” said the man who gave the name Joe.
Sam Pirozzolo’s home boasts a huge “T” in support of Donald Trump. It was burned down once during the campaign, but he put it right back up. “Today, it stands for ‘Triumph,’” he told the News.
We decided to play a lightning round.
And the comment about Mexicans, I asked.
“He didn’t say they were all rapists, just some,” Joe said.
And all those women who came forward?
“Where are the witnesses?” he asked.
The famous “Access Hollywood” tape didn’t bother Sellenthin, either.
“Everyone says something off the cuff that sounds bad when you hear it back,” he said.
Looking over my notes from a day in Staten Island, I certainly know what that would feel like. Problem is, my friends in Staten Island don’t think it sounds that bad at all.