By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN — The Mahoning Valley came through in a big way for U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, helping to breathe new life into her bid to capture the Democratic presidential nomination.
Clinton, D-N.Y., won Ohio with Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties greatly exceeding her margin of victory in the Buckeye State.
“The Valley came out in strong support of her,” said Youngstown Councilwoman Carol Rimedio-Righetti, who is actively involved in Clinton’s local campaign. “The Youngstown area worked hard for her, and it paid off. It was old grassroots politics, going door to door and campaigning hard.”
Unofficial results with 81 percent of the state reporting had Clinton with 56 percent of the vote.
She received 71 percent of the Columbiana County vote and 64 percent of the vote in Mahoning County with all precincts reporting.
Clinton received 68 percent of the vote in Trumbull County with 94 percent of the precincts reporting.
“We’re exhilarated by this win,” said Harry Meshel, Clinton’s Mahoning County coordinator and a convention delegate for her. “It breathes new life into her campaign. She’s shown she can win in the big states and obviously, Ohio is among those. It’s amazing. She won considerably well in the Mahoning Valley.”
Clinton’s campaign concentrated on the Valley as she made three campaign stops in the area, including a rally Sunday in Austintown. Also, several surrogates campaigned for Clinton in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
“She’s the only Democrat who can win Ohio in November,” Meshel said. “Her opponent showed he can’t win here. Historically, you don’t win the presidency unless you win Ohio.”
Local Obama supporters were disappointed with the results, but say the race for the Democratic presidential nomination is far from over.
“If you’re talking about the economy, the people in the Mahoning Valley felt she was the best candidate to help with that,” said state Rep. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, Obama’s Mahoning County co-coordinator. “They weren’t sure about Barack. The numbers indicate they felt strongly she was the best candidate to help our area.”
Before Tuesday, Obama had won 11 straight states in the race for the Democratic nominee. He made it 12 with a victory Tuesday in Vermont. Clinton won in Rhode Island on Tuesday.
Texas, the other big prize Tuesday, was too close to call shortly after midnight with Clinton.
“The momentum has been broken,” Hagan said. “The ‘big mo’ is now with her. The decision will now be made in Pennsylvania.”
Pennsylvania is the next large state to hold a Democratic presidential primary. That primary is April 22.
Clinton’s strong victory in Ohio is also a sign of strength for Gov. Ted Strickland, said Rimedio-Righetti and Ken Carano of Austintown, the governor’s regional director for the Mahoning Valley.
Strickland not only endorsed Clinton, but he traveled across the state campaigning with and for her.
“The governor worked so hard for her,” Carano said. “She came here and concentrated on this area. People here felt very comfortable with her.”
While he believed Clinton would win, Carano said he was surprised by the margin of victory.