Local, state candidates, office-holders gather for GOP's Lincoln Dinner

By David Skolnick



With the primary election next Tuesday, Mahoning County Republicans were joined by several statewide candidates and officeholders at their annual Lincoln Day Dinner.

So how do Republicans win in Mahoning County, a Democratic stronghold?

“In the past, we’ve seen where statewide candidates have struggled to do well here, but given what we saw in 2016 with the success Donald Trump had [losing by only 3 percentage points], I think there’s a renewed interest in Republican candidates to do well in Mahoning County,” said Mark Munroe, the county party’s chairman, at Tuesday night’s event at the Maronite Center. “It’s not a place to be ignored. If they come to the Mahoning Valley, they can do well here. Once people get to know the candidates, they can do well.”

One of those candidates, Frank LaRose of Hudson, who’s the Republican candidate for secretary of state, said people shouldn’t “worry about the R or D after a person’s name and just pick the best candidate.”

“The office of secretary of state is one that should not be about one party or the other. It should be about fair elections and accessible elections,” LaRose added. “When you look at the support I have from organized labor, the minority community, that’s not something that comes easy to a Republican. You earn that, and that’s something I’m proud of.”

Several other statewide and local candidates and officeholders attended the Republican dinner.

Among them were five of the seven current Ohio Supreme Court justices, including Mary DeGenaro of Poland, who was appointed to an unexpired term in January and is running for a six-year term in the general election.

Justice DeGenaro said she has greatly enjoyed her time as a Supreme Court justice and “being the unofficial goodwill ambassador for the Valley. I’m so proud as I meet people across the state to talk about where I’m from and the good things that are going on here as well as the good people I’ve served for the past 17 years” on the Youngstown-based 7th District Court of Appeals.

As for advice to Republicans as to how to succeed in Mahoning County, she said, “It’s about demonstrating dedication to public service. I’m not an ideologue. It’s about always working hard and not just showing up when you want somebody’s vote. It’s being accessible to the public.”

Robert Sprague of Findlay, who is running in the Republican primary for state treasurer, said, “What I’m talking about is holding government accountable. The greatest disinfectant you can put on corruption is sunshine and making government accessible.”

He added: “You’ve got to bring fresh ideas to the table. I want to talk to people about problems and come forward with new ideas and good ideas to solve problems for our state.”

Meanwhile, across the street from the Maronite Center, John Dyce of Hanoverton, the Democratic candidate for the 5th Ohio House District in Columbiana County, stood in front of a 15-foot inflatable duck to call out the statewide Republican candidates for “ducking accountability on their party’s culture of corruption in Columbus.”

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