Republican Scott Jones, challenging Democratic Rep. Ami Bera in suburban Sacramento County, is backing off his commitment to support Donald Trump.
Jones had repeatedly affirmed plans to vote for Trump even as Democrats dialed up pressure to abandon the GOP’s polarizing standard-bearer.
But in a recent interview with Sacramento’s KFBK 1530/93.1 FM, Jones reversed his previous commitment to vote for Trump. “I don’t know what I am going to do, to be honest with you,” he said.
On Monday, Jones’ campaign strategist, Dave Gilliard, said Jones would still vote for Trump if the election were held today, “not enthusiastically, but because (Hillary) Clinton is simply not trustworthy.”
Jones said in the radio interview Thursday that he feels no inclination to “jump up and defend every asinine thing” Trump says, “although (Democrats) are going to call for me to do so.”
Bera, a strong supporter of Clinton for president, on several occasions has sought to tie Jones to Trump. Most recently, he called on him to condemn Trump’s remarks about the parents of slain Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who died trying to repel a suicide bomber in 2004.
One of the KFBK hosts asked if Jones, who has ruled out voting for Clinton, might now be leaning toward Libertarian Gary Johnson. Jones, Sacramento County sheriff, said he has “a lot greater level of confidence” he won’t support Clinton than he does that he will vote for Trump.
“I want to see policy issues, which I have yet to see,” Jones said. “Believe me, I see the same deficiencies in Donald Trump that are I think obvious to most people. If I have to hitch myself to a leadership wagon, it’s going to be that of (House Speaker) Paul Ryan.”
Pressed on whether that means he’ll leave the box for president unchecked, Jones reiterated that he’s unsure.
“I will tell you this, whatever I will do, or what my latest feeling is, or what I will have done after the election, I’ll be completely honest about it, because that’s the way I’ve conducted myself my entirety of my career.
“So, I won’t lie about it. It may not be politically popular,” he added. “I could give great political answers. But I would rather give the truth.”
Jones publicly grappled with the idea of lining up behind Trump in March, offering that he would “definitely support Trump if he were the nominee.”
In a May statement to The Sacramento Bee, Jones said that while he disagreed with several things Trump has said, he shared the businessman’s desire to strengthen the military and fight gridlock in Washington.
“Given the alternative, I will be voting for him,” Jones said, a move that cost him the endorsement of a key labor ally.