Dispatch from Precinct 521 at Max Hasse Community Park in Golden Gate Estates (By Eric Staats)
As voters drove into the polling place at Max Hasse Community Park, the passed a line of signs declaring “Florida is Marco Rubio Country.”
Then they saw Ronda O’Connell.
She stood in the shade, within chatting distance of the Rubio booth. She held a homemade sign with red-and-blue letters spelling out #TEDCRUZ NAPLES.
America needs someone that kids can look up to, and Cruz is that candidate, said O’Connell, 53, of Golden Gate Estates: “I believe he has honor. I believe he doesn’t lie. He’s a God-fearing man.”
An exit poll showed Trump winning by a landslide at Precinct 521, but not all of those votes were cast enthusiastically, voters said.
Nancy Gorla, 59, a retired American history teacher from California, called herself “really angry” about the lack of candidates “to believe in” this year.
She said she’d rather just throw everyone out of Washington and start over, starting with Trump: “I’m voting for the best of the worst. Sad.”
Alan Swailes said he didn’t look for Trump’s name first on the ballot, but ended up voting for him anyway.
“I looked for None of the Above on the ballot, and it wasn’t there,” said Swailes, 77, of North Naples.
Cruz got 51-year-old Janet Dattilo’s anti-Trump vote: “Cruz is really about the only one right now who has a chance of stopping the idiot.”
Shane Maxwell, 44, of Golden Gate Estates, also voted for Cruz, calling Rubio the conservative version of President Obama and saying Rubio hasn’t accomplished anything as a Florida senator. Trump, he said, is an unreliable conservative. Maxwell said he liked Cruz’ experience as a lawyer.
“Out of the conservative choices, he’s the most direct connection to the Constitution,” Maxwell said.
In a poll of 36 voters at Max Hasse park, Trump got 19 votes, Cruz, 7; Rubio, 6; Kasich, 2. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton each got one vote.