When Ohio’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and Reps. Tim Ryan, D-Howland, and Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, say they are committed to working together for the betterment of the Mahoning Valley, they aren’t spewing political rhetoric.
Brown, Ryan and Johnson have shown over the years by their actions that they’re willing to cross party lines to deal with issues of singular importance to this region.
And no issue is more important today than the uncertain future of General Motors Lordstown assembly plant. As we’ve argued ad nauseam in this space, the silence emanating from GM’s headquarters in Detroit about the company’s plans for the 52-year-old assembly complex is deafening – and disturbing.
During their appearances before The Vindicator’s Editorial Board, the members of Congress made it clear that they have been, and will continue to be, on the front lines of the battle to save the Lordstown plant.
Ryan, Johnson and Brown also impressed us with their commitment to the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna Township and their unyielding push for federal dollars to keep the Air Force Reserve base viable, thus keeping it off any U.S. Department of Defense’s closing list.
Hence, we were pleased to see the three members of Congress easily win re-election in Tuesday’s hotly contested midterm election.
Of the three races, Brown, who was seeking a third six-year term, faced a contentious challenge from his Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. James Renacci of Wadsworth. Renacci launched one of the sleaziest political campaigns in recent memory, digging up Brown’s divorce from three decades ago to argue that the Democrat wasn’t fit to hold public office.
Fortunately, the voters of Ohio rejected such negative campaigning and gave Brown an almost 250,000-vote margin of victory, according to complete but unofficial results from the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.
What makes Brown’s victory all the more significant is that Republicans carried all statewide administrative offices, from governor on down, in a sweep that replicated the results of the 2010 mid-term election when Democrat Barack Obama was president.
There were two other Democrats who won statewide Tuesday night: Judges Michael P. Donnelly and Melody J. Stewart for the Ohio Supreme Court.
In the local congressional races, the incumbents had little trouble winning re-election.
Ryan, who was seeking a ninth two-year term, received 149,271 votes to 96,225 votes for Republican Chris DePizzo.
Johnson, going for a fifth term, garnered 169,668 votes to 75,196 votes for Democrat Shawna Roberts.
In endorsing the three winners, The Vindicator talked at great length about the GM Lordstown plant and company CEO Mary Barra’s refusal to come clean about the future.
Brown had talked to Barra about the Lordstown facility and came away dissatisfied. She refused to make any commitments about assigning a new product to the facility.
Given that the Chevrolet Cruze, at one time one of the best-selling vehicles in the company’s fleet, is no longer in great demand, the question that we and other Valley residents are asking is this: Why won’t GM commit to building trucks, SUVs or crossovers in the Valley?
There have been reports that GM decisions makers have concluded that it would be too expensive to upgrade the paint shop to accommodate vehicles larger than compact cars like the Cruze.
We would be remiss if we didn’t point out that Ohio’s other senator, Republican Rob Portman, is just as passionate about helping the Valley as his colleague in the Senate, Brown, and Reps. Ryan and Johnson.
Because the GM Lordstown complex is down to one shift, we believe the Air Reserve base warrants the undivided attention not only of the officeholders, but economic development specialists, led by the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber.
It is noteworthy Democrats will have the majority in the House next year, which means that Ryan, who already serves on the powerful Appropriations Committee, will be in an even stronger position to secure federal funding for major projects in the Valley.