His Family Escaped the Nazis. So Why Is Martin Selig Supporting Trump?

It’s a billionaire real-estate developer thing.

His Family Escaped the Nazis. So Why Is Martin Selig Supporting Trump?

Martin Selig might not seem like a natural fit for the role of Donald Trump’s Seattle booster.

Sure, the two men share a four-word biography—“billionaire real-estate developer.” But Selig’s personal history—coming to America as a Jewish child escaping Nazi Germany—might seem to an outsider to grate against Trump’s forays into authoritarian rhetoric (“You’re going to have to watch and study the mosques, because a lot of talk is going on in the mosques”). And Selig’s emphasis on the importance of international trade to Seattle’s economy would certainly not jibe with Trump’s seemingly protectionist policy (“Mandate a 15 percent tax for outsourcing jobs and a 20 percent tax for importing goods.”)

Yet Selig is making no apologies for his support of Trump, and will be one of the major donors bringing the Republican presidential nominee to the Seattle area for a fundraiser on August 30. Selig, whose well-appointed offices on Second Avenue overlook some of the downtown skyscrapers he’s built, sat down with Seattle Weekly to explain why Trump’s his man.

When did you get on board with Donald Trump? I’ve been on board with the Republican Party for a long, long time.

But supporting the Republican Party doesn’t necessarily mean supporting Donald Trump. Look at Chris Vance. That’s him, not me. We live in the greatest country in the world. The fact that these are the two people who have been nominated for president, you have to live with that. Of the two people who have been nominated, I go with the Republican side.

So what’s the pitch to a Seattle voter for a Trump presidency?He can create jobs, that he can make it easier for Boeing to sell airplanes overseas and basically make it easier for all corporate entities that are here—Amazon, Microsoft, Costco, Starbucks—to compete, not just locally but overseas. That creates jobs. There’s a reason our mayor and governor travel overseas. It’s to help the economy of the state of Washington.

But that would seem to conflict with Trump’s protectionist policies, especially with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. If we start putting up tariffs, other countries will do the same and that will make international trade harder. There’s a possibility [TPP] will work, and a possibility it doesn’t work. That’s an argument we could have all day. If it helps increase trade, that’s good. If.

Given your family’s history of escaping Nazi Germany, what do you make of the comparisons between Trump and the far-right nationalist parties in Europe? That’s so poppycock. It’s just a lot of talking. I really don’t see the comparison. The only way we got out of there was because my father was a member of the American Chamber of Commerce, and we basically got the last boat out. We went from Germany to Poland to Moscow, on the Trans-Siberian Railroad to Korea, across the Sea of Japan, to a boat in Yokohama, Japan. It was going to San Francisco, but it stopped in Seattle. For reasons we can’t figure out, my family got off in Seattle. This country kept us alive, allowed us in.

But it gives you no pause to hear Trump talk of keeping people out? It doesn’t bother me. I’m quite sure there’s a lot more depth to it. That what he means is keeping people out who’d do harm to us.

You’ve done quite well for yourself during the Obama administration. I do well in all administrations.

Touché. But it seems like Trump—as well as Bernie Sanders, for that matter—is calling for drastic changes to this country, and I might assume a successful person like you would go for something more centrist.I like small government. Anything that creates small government is fine with me. You ask me why I don’t go to the other side. Let’s say you have two children, and you’re in the service, and you get killed overseas, and the Secretary of State goes to your widow and lies about what happened. That’s what [Hillary Clinton] did [with the Benghazi attacks]. She knew it wasn’t the videotapes that caused it, yet you sit there and lie to a widow and a couple of orphans.

When the Trump visit was announced, some suggested it showed that Trump feels Washington will be in play thiselection. That’s not going to happen. That’s wishful thinking. I wish it would, but that’s not going to happen.

dperson@seattleweekly.com


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

This screenshot from Auburn Police Department bodycam footage shows an officer about to fire his weapon and kill dog on May 13, 2022.
Auburn police shoot dog, and owner claims it wasn’t justified

See videos of attack as well as bodycam footage of officer firing at dog.

File photo.
King County Council approves creation of Cannabis Safety Taskforce amid rash of dispensary robberies

The multi-agency task force will cooperate to find ways to improve safety in the cash-only industry.

Screenshot from ORCA website
New ORCA system launches for regional transit across the Puget Sound

Overhaul includes new website, mobile application and digital business account manager.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII (Episode 4): Foster mom wants accountability in Auburn cop’s upcoming murder trial

Special podcast series explores Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

Diane Renee Erdmann and Bernard Ross Hansen. Photos courtesy of FBI
FBI arrests Auburn couple after 11-day manhunt

The couple was previously convicted for fraud and skipped sentencing on April 29.

Screenshot from Barnes and Noble website
Cover art of books that KSD Librarian Gavin Downing says have been under fire: “Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts),” by Lev A.C. Rosen, “If I Was Your Girl,” by Meredith Russo, and “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” by George Matthew Johnson.
Kent middle school librarian wins intellectual freedom award

Gavin Downing refused to keep ‘silence in the library’ amid attempted book banning and censorship.

t
Kent elementary school teacher accused of using racist language toward student

River Ridge Elementary instructor placed on administrative leave by Kent School District.

FILE PHOTO: King County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
Dozens of King County Sheriff’s Office employees left jobs instead of getting vaccinated

This added on to the existing number of vacancies in the department.

Joann and Allan Thomas are flanked in court by their attorneys Terrence Kellogg (fourth from the right) and John Henry Browne (far right) on May 10, 2022. Judge Richard Jones is presiding over the case. Sketch by Seattle-based artist Lois Silver
At drainage district corruption trial, it’s a tale of dueling conspiracies

Allan and Joann Thomas are in trial in Seattle on fraud charges.

Most Read