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Thursday, December 7, 2023
Dec. 7, 2023

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Local delegate all in for Trump

Former street preacher makes impassioned plea for presumptive nominee of GOP

By , Columbian Political Writer

Joel Mattila, an evangelical minister turned residential real estate agent, peeled the Donald Trump bumper sticker off his white Ford F-150 pickup.

The decision wasn’t made out of a lack of love for the GOP presumptive nominee.

“I don’t want to lose a deal over it,” said Mattila, who left the “I love my wife” sticker.

Trump would understand, probably even respect him for it, he figured.

Mattila, 39, is the only delegate from Washington state heading to the national Republican convention in July who wholeheartedly wants the real estate tycoon to be the next president. Even though Trump won Washington state’s primary earlier this week, 40 out of 41 national delegates chosen from Washington state are Ted Cruz supporters.

“It’s not a secret the Cruz campaign was well-organized. I mean, that’s not like late-breaking news from Joel or anything like that,” Mattila said.

Mattila is a one-man Trump machine.

Leading up to the state convention, he called hundreds of people asking for their votes to send him as a delegate to the national convention in Cleveland. The Clark County resident followed up with emails and sent fliers with his photo and a list of his conservative credentials.

At the state GOP convention, Trump’s superfan tapped into skills he honed while working as a street preacher. Mattila once spent months on curb corners in Honolulu, drawing tourists in with trivia and then sending them on their way with Jesus’ message. At the state Republican convention, his fervor manifested in a speech against the establishment.

Not even Trump’s state campaign chairman, Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, was able to secure a delegate spot to the national convention.

On Thursday, Trump reached the 1,237 delegates he needed to clinch the nomination, according to The Associated Press.

“Just get used to saying President Trump,” Mattila said. “Let it roll off your tongue: the Trump administration.”

Mattila’s passion for the presidential candidate is palpable.

When he repeats Trump’s campaign slogan, he says it with complete conviction, leaning in, his blue eyes intense: “Trump is going to make America great again.”

Rules are rules

Although the state’s 40 other national delegates are Cruz loyalists, under the Republican National Committee rules they will still have to cast a vote for Trump on the first ballot.

Mattila said many of them simply want to attend to have a say in the party’s future platform.

“We’re going to be a united party,” Mattila said, his confident and declarative sentence structure at times appearing to emulate the presidential candidate. “And I want to tell you something: Trump is going to win, and it’s not even going to be close. It’s going to be a wipeout.”

Other Republicans have criticized Trump’s tactics. Some have questioned his personal values. Mattila, a self-described family man, harbors no doubts.

“We’re not electing a pastor in chief, we’re electing a commander in chief,” Mattila said. “He’s a smart man. He’s going to surround himself with advisers.”

Trump is going to do great things for women, said Mattila, who has two daughters and a son.

“Look at his record. Look at his kids. Look at Ivanka Trump. She’s successful, brilliant. Look, you can get a good feel for a guy by looking at his family. Trump’s kids, by any standard — you look at Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka — he’s raised some amazing kids,” Mattila said.

Trump will bring a much-needed business perspective to the White House, Mattila said.

He will build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border, Mattila said, and yes, Mexico will pay for it.

And for those who want to leave the country depending on who is elected president, be it Trump or “Crooked” Hillary Clinton, Mattila said he can help.

“Give me a call and let’s get your home sold!” he posted on Facebook.

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Columbian Political Writer