A life-long conservative veteran who voted for President Donald Trump in 2016 endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden on Monday because his wife died from the coronavirus.
Dave Dahlstrom, who served in the Air Force and lives in the battleground state of Arizona, told ABC15 that his wife Cindy’s passing has made the 2020 election a deeply personal issue for him, and that he intends on holding the president accountable.
Dahlstrom’s wife of 30 years – a former Defense Department employee – succumbed to COVID-19 in July after visiting her grandchildren, Dahlstrom told the news outlet.
“She had a real strong sense of giving,” he said, adding that Cindy spent her free time doing charitable work helping the homeless. “She looked forward to it every single week,” he recalled.
The couple loved to travel. “We traveled once a week, every month,” said Dave. “Her favorite places were Honolulu, LA, Las Vegas.”
In late June, the couple traveled to Sky Harbor, Colorado, to visit their grandkids, who along with their parents had just moved from North Carolina. That, Dahlstrom said, is when Cindy cought the virus, despite having taken every recommended precaution.
“It was really important for her to do that. But she understood the risks. She was an exceptionally cautious woman,” he explained. “She probably touched her eye somewhere along the line and contracted the disease,” he added. “The next day she started complaining about altitude sickness.”
Dahlstrom said that Cindy’s preexisting condition – a scarred lung from a bout of valley fever – made her extra susceptible to the pathogen.
Four days after their trip, Cindy was put on a ventilator, but that was not enough to save her.
“She went through the full protocol to even include the convalescent plasma, and she died on July 6,” Dahlstrom said. “They pulled the ventilator. Two minutes later she passed away,” he said. “It was just a dynamic I would never wish on anybody. It was just terrible.”
Dahlstrom blames Trump for his wife’s death, and told ABC 15 that he will be “switching my vote to Biden in November.”
Specifically, he attributed Trump’s wanton downplaying and outright lies about the coronavirus as the primary motivator for changing his vote.
“Our leadership really failed the American people, and they failed my family, and they failed our friends,” he said. “I’m really bothered by all of that.”
Arizona and its 11 Electoral College votes is one of numerous states Biden is hoping to turn blue for the first time since 1996, when the state voted to reelect then-President Bill Clinton. Polling shows a close race in the Grand Canyon State, however, Real Clear Politics gives the former vice president a slight edge over Trump, based on an average of recent surveys.
Trump narrowly defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in Arizona in 2016 by slightly more than three points.
Arizona is also home to a hotly contested Senate race.
Former astronaut Mark Kelly, a Democrat, is gunning to unseat Republican Martha McSally, who was never democratically elected. She was appointed to fill the seat held by the late Senator John McCain, whose replacement, John Kyl, retired in 2018.
Polling has consistently given Kelly a consistent lead; should he win, his victory could flip control of the Senate back to the Democrats. It would also be the first time Arizonians would have two Democrats representing them in the Senate.
Kelly is married to former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords (D), who survived a gunshot wound to the head after an assassination attempt by a white nationalist in 2012. She has made a near-full recovery, and has become an inspiration to millions.
What's Your Reaction?
Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.