It’s no accident that three prominent Republican officeholders have come to the predominantly Democratic Mahoning Valley in the past two months, just as it’s not a coincidence that Republican governors and legislatures around the country have launched an attack on state workers.
In the aftermath of the November election in which the GOP scored huge victories on the state and national levels, Republicans believe they have the political momentum to carry them into the 2012 presidential election. And, based on the turnout of Democrats in November, they realize that regions like the Mahoning Valley are easy prey so long as blue-collar voters continue to be disenchanted with President Obama.
Gov. John Kasich, Attorney General Mike DeWine and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, all Republicans, have visited this region, met with political and community leaders and have promied to help in any way they can. Their message is clear: We’re in charge, and it's to the Valley’s advantage to shed its partisan inclination and work with us.
Republicans believe they are in a strong position to take over the U.S. Senate next year, just as they did the House in November, and that the presidency will be up for grabs if the national unemployment rate remains as high as it is today.
While state workers and other public employees are up in arms up over the GOP’s push to eliminate collective bargaining and take away other rights, private sector taxpayers are of the same mind as the governors and legislators.
The predominantly Democratic Mahoning Valley will play a crucial role in next year’s presidential election in Ohio, and the national Democratic Party will have to find a way of bringing out the faithful who right now are unenthusiastic. The Republicans smell blood.