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There Was At Least One Democrat In Attendance At Trump’s Mills River Rally

Cory Vaillancourt
Mills River Mayor Pro Temp Brian Caskey showed his support for Vice President Joe Biden during President Trump's rally on Monday.

While he was being renominated Monday in Charlotte for a second term in office by the Republican Party, Mills River waited for President Trump.

Much of the crowd at President Trump’s rally was made up of farmers and local politicians.  But not all of them agreed with the president.

“I’m here today representing the Town of Mills River.”

That’s Brian Caskey. He’s the Mayor Pro Temp of Mills River. Caskey thought he might be the only Democrat at the rally. He doesn’t agree with Trump, especially when it comes to immigration. He says that migrant farm workers – many of whom work at Flavor 1st Growers and Packers where the rally was located – deserve a path to citizenship. The rally highlighted the work of the Farmers to Familes Food Box program.

“Farmers here rely on migrant labor. We need to establish a path to citizenship for people who are here and are following the laws. That’s something that is really important to farmers here,” says Caskey, who adds that he is the first Democrat to be elected to the Mills River Town Board.

However, Caskey says its important to work across the aisle. He’s currently running for state senate in District 48.  Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Richard Sneed agrees. 

“You know when it comes to acts of Congress we need support on both sides of the aisle. I try to explain to our citizens, we don’t pick sides in this, our agenda is that of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and that’s what we promote,” explains Sneed, who says he is apolitical.  

Beyond these few outliers, the crowd will be Trump voters in the fall. Mark Robinson, the GOP nominee for Lt. Governor in 2020, says he carries his Trump towel with him everywhere this time of year.

“He is a leader that is for the average everyday American citizen. That forgotten person that he talks about all of the time – the same people that I want to represent. That’s what he’s all about and seeing him here today has certainly proven that,” says Robinson.

When asked about Trump’s policies on reparations and racial justice he responded:

“Those issues are not even on my radar because quite frankly they smack at something that is disgusting to me as a Black man. It points to this whole thing of being a victim instead of a victor,” says Robinson, as he explained that there is no problem with racism in America.

Representative (R) Kevin Corbin said he attended the rally to support local farmers as well as President Trump. Corbin is currently running for NC State Senate for District 50. He says migrant workers are an important part of the economy. 

"Vegetables don't come from Ingles or BiLo. They come from a field. So we need people who are willing to work in that environment do that very hard work to feed the rest of us," says Corbin. In Macon County, where Corbin lives, there has been at least one COVID-19 cluster at a local farm, Norton Creek Farms. 

Haywood County Commissioner (R) Tommy Long also attended the rally in support of President Trump. 

“I plan on voting for President Trump. I do. I like the platform of the Republican party. It’s pro-American. And it’s gonna take a whole lot to change my mind, so I’ll be voting for President Trump,” says Long.

The Republican National convention continues tonight in Charlotte.

Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.
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