Although he won’t admit it, Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras knows he blew it (colloquial for making a mistake) when he didn’t invite porn star Stormy Daniels to his political soiree Monday evening.
Daniels was in Ohio over the weekend, and her appearance at a gentlemen’s club coincided with President Donald J. Trump’s political appearance Saturday in the state. No, Daniels and Trump didn’t share the stage, although a joint appearance would have been the political event of the century.
Remember that Stormy has filed lawsuits stemming from an alleged affair in 2006 with Trump, the married billionaire real-estate developer from New York City.
The president has denied the porn star’s allegations.
But does anybody doubt that when Trump appeared Saturday evening in Delaware County on behalf of a Republican candidate for the 12th Congressional District in a special election Tuesday, his handlers were acutely aware that Stormy was just 90 miles away?
She was bumping and grinding at a private strip club outside of Dayton.
There was an obvious symmetry between the two appearances Saturday. Both Trump and Stormy appealed to the basest instincts of their audiences. They have finessed the art of sending crowds into a frenzy. The president uses words – and some gestures – to turn his supporters into frothing automatons, especially when he attacks the legitimate mainstream press.
Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, knows how to get her audience frothing by using her God-given assets.
In other words, the president and the porn star have a lot in common.
That’s why Betras should have invited Stormy to the Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman’s Dinner.
Betras, who must decide whether he’s a media personality or a political leader, has misjudged the mood of Democratic voters in Mahoning County.
He is under the mistaken belief that having Stormy’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, delivering the keynote address will somehow lure Democrats who voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election back into the fold.
Indeed, Betras’ miscue in inviting Avenatti rather than Stormy became evident in mid-July when the nationally renowned lawyer spoke to reporters from The Vindicator and 21 WFMJ-TV during a visit to Youngstown.
Guess what Avenatti talked about? No, he didn’t tout the importance of the state Democratic ticket led by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and including the party nominee for governor, Richard Cordray. And he said nothing about Stormy.
Instead, Avenatti talked about himself.
Here’s the headline to the front-page story in the July 19 edition of The Vindicator: “I can beat him.” The subhead provided an explanation: “During Valley visit, Michael Avenatti opens up about possibly running against Donald Trump in the 2020 election”.
Now place that self- aggrandizing statement within the context of the 2016 election.
Trump came to the predominantly Democratic Valley and basically repudiated the Republican Party.
Yes, he was the GOP nominee for president, but his campaign threw Republican political orthodoxy out the window.
He was a reincarnation of the very popular late Valley Congressman James A. Traficant Jr. who was unabashedly jingoistic when it came to issues of trade, immigration and blue-collar America.
Trump carried Trumbull County and almost won in Mahoning County. The fact that the Republican nominee stole voters away from the ultimate Democratic Party insider, Hillary Clinton, is the stuff of political intrigue even today.
Those Democrats who shunned Clinton must be brought back into the fold if Cordray is to have any chance of defeating the Republican nominee for governor, Mike DeWine, currently Ohio’s attorney general.
Thus the question: What will it take for Trump Democrats in the Valley to come home politically and vote for Brown, Cordray and the rest of the statewide Democratic ticket?
Stormy Daniels on stage at Betras’ soiree Monday would have done the trick.
Instead, the turncoat Democrats are left to stew over the harsh criticism of Trump from a lawyer who not only has declared war on their hero, but is threatening to run against him in 2020.
Betras, who took exception to this writer’s column of July 15 with the headline, “Bring Stormy’s assets to bear,” insists that the Trump Democrats will show up for this year’s general election.
But unless the party chairman and his guest of honor, Avenatti, hold out an olive branch to the Trumpsters tomorrow night, this year’s election in the Valley could well be a replay of 2016.
Why did Trump do so well in this Democratic stronghold? The simple answer is that he sprinkled residents with gold dust. Like the late Congressman Traficant, Trump played on the anxieties of white, blue-collar voters.
Therefore, the challenge for Betras and other party leaders is to convince the errant Democrats that Mike DeWine is no Donald Trump and that his election as governor would be the worst thing that could happen to the Mahoning Valley.
Betras will have to do a lot of bumping and grinding to get his voters excited about Cordray and the rest of the Democratic ticket. Perhaps Stormy can give him a lesson or two.
There is an issue that could loom large in the November election in the Valley if it is handled correctly.
As the editorial today points out, the future of the General Motors Lordstown assembly plant is uncertain, at best, because sales of the Chevrolet Cruze continue to decline.
GM CEO Mary Barra has refused to publicly reveal the company’s plans for the Lordstown facility, which is fueling the anxiety of the autoworkers and the political, business and community leaders in the region.
President Trump’s failure to intervene is significant.