REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION Valley representation is on par with number of voters
The Valley makes up 3.1 percent of Ohio's convention delegation.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Of the 193 Ohio Republican delegates and alternates to the party's national convention, six are from the Mahoning Valley.
While that doesn't sound like much representation, it's not very far off statistically from the number of voters in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties, who supported President Bush in the 2000 election.
The six Valley Republicans, three delegates and three alternates, make up 3.1 percent of the state's representatives to the party's national convention. In 2000, President Bush received 4.1 percent of his votes in Ohio from those three counties. [Bush defeated Democrat Al Gore by 3.6 percent in Ohio that year.]
In 2000, Bush narrowly won Columbiana, a county almost evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. But the only delegate to the convention from that county is David W. Johnson of Salem, one of the state's most prominent Republicans, and the county's Bush-Cheney campaign chairman.
Gore captured 61 percent of the vote in Mahoning County, and 60 percent of the vote in Trumbull County in 2000. The two counties are among the most Democratic in the state, and Bush campaigners say they would be thrilled if the president received 40 percent of the vote in Mahoning and Trumbull in November.
Going to the Republican convention, in New York City from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, from Mahoning County is one delegate, Boardman Township Trustee Elaine R. Mancini; and two alternates, Greg Smith of Canfield, son of Mahoning GOP Chairman Clarence Smith, and Eugenia C. Atkinson of Youngstown, co-chairwoman of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Northeastern Ohio.
Trumbull is sending one delegate, Kathi Creed, a state central committeewoman; and one alternate, county GOP Chairman Craig Bonar.
The lack of Valley delegates and alternates isn't a problem, said Mark Munroe, Mahoning County GOP vice chairman and Mahoning's Bush-Cheney campaign chairman. Munroe plans to attend the convention for two days.
It's more important for Bush supporters in Ohio to stay in the Buckeye State campaigning for the president's re-election than going to the convention, Munroe said. Ohio is seen by both campaigns as a key battleground state.
"There is a big push to keep people back here working," he said. "You can't afford to be away. I'm a bit uncomfortable to sneak away [to the convention] for two days. With the Canfield Fair and it being that close to Election Day, it's difficult to get away."
As for his opinion on national political conventions, Munroe said: "They aren't what they used to be. It's now a glorified multimedia staged television production."
Smith, the Mahoning Republican chairman, and his wife, Rose Marie, were offered delegate positions. But Munroe said Smith rejected the offer because he doesn't like New York City.
Delegates are selected to the convention by Bush campaign officials with assistance from the Ohio Republican Party, the state's congressional delegation and Gov. Bob Taft, said Jason Mauk, ORP spokesman. The ORP's political staff and others working on the re-election campaign are staying behind in Ohio to work for the Bush-Cheney ticket, Mauk said.
Nationwide, there are 2,509 national delegates and 2,344 alternates. Ohio makes up about 4 percent of the national delegates and alternates.