The Democratic candidates said they need strong voter turnout to beat their Republican counterparts.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tim Hagan took his wife, actress Kate Mulgrew, on a stroll through downtown Youngstown, where he often spent time while growing up in the Mahoning Valley.
He didn't like what he saw.
"It breaks my heart to come here," said Hagan, who joined other Democratic statewide candidates on a Wednesday stop to downtown Youngstown as part of a two-day bus trip around the state.
Hagan, who grew up in Trumbull County, remembers Youngstown 40 years ago, when the city was bustling with industry and business. Now he sees boarded-up and abandoned buildings.
Blames the Republicans
The situation during the last 12 years, with Republicans controlling the state, has only gotten worse, Hagan said.
"The neglect of the political leadership in this state is so evident walking through this downtown," he said. "We can never return to the '50s and the '60s. It will never be the town it was when I grew up. But we can do something. You can measure 12 years of Republican rule by going to downtown Youngstown."
Hagan said that if elected, he would redirect state money toward the revitalization of urban downtowns in need of assistance, such as Youngstown. Hagan and the other statewide Democratic candidates who visited Youngstown acknowledge they need the overwhelming support of Mahoning Valley voters to have a fighting chance at beating their Republican counterparts. The Valley is one of the Democrats' political strongholds in Ohio.
"It's critically important to do well in the Mahoning Valley," said Charleta Tavares, Hagan's running mate. "We have to do well in our areas of strength. We need to do exceptionally well here."
Because of the Valley's political leanings, Democratic candidates are expecting strong numbers from it to offset anticipated shortcomings in strong Republican areas such as Southwest Ohio, said Leigh Herington, Democratic attorney general candidate.
Need for support
"It's so important to get the support of the Mahoning Valley," he said. "With that support, we can take the state back."
Secretary of State candidate Bryan Flannery, a frequent visitor to the Valley during his campaign, said Democrats must focus much of their attention on getting strong numbers here on Election Day.
"We can't take this area for granted," he said. "We have to be here and be visible and be out here as much as we can."
Republicans have held every nonjudicial statewide office for seven years and have held the governor's office for the past 12 years.
The statewide candidates finished a two-day, six-city bus tour in Youngstown. The tour will resume Tuesday and stop in six other cities in two days.
About 75 people attended the Youngstown rally, including Mark Munroe, Mahoning Republican vice chairman, and Raymond Butler, a Republican who works at the county elections board. The pair videotaped the event. Munroe agreed that there should be an elimination to one-party rule, but he was referring to the dominance of Democrats in Mahoning County.
"Democrats have ruled this Valley for 20 years and look what it's gotten us; indictments, arrests and convicted felons," Munroe said.