GOSHEN — For Goshen retiree Arlen Ambler, when it comes to deciding who to support for Congress this November, the topics most likely to sway his decision are not unlike those dictating who he supports for president.
Ambler, 67, considers himself a member of the Elkhart County Libertarian Party, though he’s not opposed to throwing his support behind candidates of other parties when the situation warrants it.
Take, for example, the upcoming race for the U.S. Senate seat, where incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly is facing challenges from Republican Mike Braun and Libertarian Lucy Brenton.
“It’s between Lucy Brenton and Joe Donnelly, and most likely Joe Donnelly,” Ambler said of who will likely secure his vote on Nov. 6. “First off, you know how I feel about the president. I can’t stand the man. So, I’m not going to support anybody who basically preaches his policies and beliefs. Lucy Brenton is the only Libertarian we’ve got around this area really. But, as I’ve said before, I’ve got some issues with some of the Libertarian stands on certain things. While I don’t know too much about her beliefs, I know the Libertarian Party has issues with things like Social Security, and Medicare, and this and that. So, since I’m on Social Security now, and Medicare … the Libertarians would just like to throw it out, basically. So, I’m probably leaning toward Joe Donnelly.”
Speaking specifically to the issues most likely to sway his vote on Election Day, Ambler pointed to gun rights and the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
“I agree with the Second Amendment on the guns issue, but I don’t really — like with the school shootings and the mass shootings — I think we need to do something about certain types of weapons, like the semi-automatic guns and this and that,” Ambler said. “That view has gotten me in trouble with some of the Libertarians, who are for total gun rights, you know, ‘You can’t touch my guns.’ I’m a little less fervent about that.”
After the Second Amendment, immigration reform tops Ambler’s list of important topics.
“With immigration, the Libertarian view is kind of more open than the Trump doctrine,” Ambler said. “I’m not really for free borders, but I don’t think we need to build a wall, and separate kids from their families. And now, I’ve heard they’re even going after people who were born in this country. So that’s another big issue for me.”
Switching to the race for the Indiana District 2 House seat, where incumbent Republican Jackie Walorski is facing a challenge from Democrat Mel Hall, Ambler said he’s planning on throwing his support behind the Democrat.
“I’ve never met Jackie Walorski, but from all that I know of her, I know she hasn’t had a town hall since 2013 or something like that, and she very rarely participates in debates, etc. So, it’s kind of like she’s hiding from the people, which I don’t think is good,” Ambler said. “And I know she has supported Trump on certain things. So personally — and since Mel Hall is the only opponent — I’ll support him. I did support Pat Hackett in the Democratic primary, though. That was actually the first time I’d voted Democratic in a very long time.”
Speaking of showing candidate support, Ambler noted that he tends to prefer staying behind the scenes when it comes to his candidate preferences. He doesn’t count himself among those voters electing to stump for a particular candidate or actively working for their campaigns — at least for the most part.
“As far as actively supporting specific candidates, I’ve kind of stayed back,” Ambler said. “But in 1972, I lived in the South Bend area, and I worked extensively with the (George) McGovern campaign. He was running for president against (Richard) Nixon. I was about 21 at the time, and I worked on voter registration and went door to door, made some phone calls, that kind of thing.”
While not a Democrat at heart, Ambler said he is excited about the possibility of what some are predicting will be a “blue wave” of Democratic wins in multiple races across the country this November. As for whether that potential wave will be enough to result in a shift of party majority in the Republican-lead U.S. House and Senate, that remains to be seen, he said.
“I think, basically, if you look at history, usually in the midterms the party of the president doesn’t have as much support as it did going in. So, I’m kind of anticipating that, especially on the House side,” Ambler said of the blue wave prediction. “I’m not so sure about the Senate, though, because with the Senate only one third of the seats are up at any one time. But with the House, they’re all up for grabs. So, I kind of anticipate that, yes.”
As for how he’s feeling about the president as the midterms fast approach, Ambler, a staunch Trump opponent, said if anything, his opinion of the man and his presidency have only gotten worse over time.
“For example, here recently, he was discounting the number of people who actually died in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria, saying there weren’t 3,000 people that died,” Ambler said. “Everything is about him. He said the Democrats were trying to make him look bad by reporting those numbers, and the Democrats didn’t have anything to do with those figures. From my perspective, he doesn’t need the Democrats to make him look bad. He does a good enough job himself.”