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Candidate to speak to local labor

O’Rourke comes to Niles Wednesday

NILES — Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke will have a labor roundtable Wednesday at the Mahoning-Trumbull AFL-CIO Labor Council headquarters on North Main Street.

Bill Padisak, the council’s president, said Thursday that O’Rourke’s campaign reached out to him to help coordinate the event.

“He’s going to hear what is happening in the Valley,” Padisak said.

O’Rourke will meet at 3 p.m. with 12 to 15 local labor members in an event that’s not open to the public, Padisak said.

Among the participants will be labor leaders and rank-and-file union members including steelworkers, teachers and from the United Auto Workers at the idled General Motors plant in Lordstown, Padisak said.

While Padisak is friends with U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland, who’s also running for president, Padisak said, “We’re always happy to meet with any presidential candidates so they can hear us, and we can hear them.”

The former Texas congressman will be on Ryan’s home turf as Ryan grew up in Niles and lived there until a 2013 move to Howland.

On Wednesday, O’Rourke is first going to an event in Pittsburgh before the Niles roundtable and then finishing his day at Kent State University.

O’Rourke attracted attention at last week’s Democratic presidential debate when he said in response to mass shootings, including in his hometown of El Paso, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.” He was referring to his support for a mandatory buyback of certain assault weapons.

That led to a response Wednesday on Twitter by President Donald Trump, a Republican, who wrote: “Dummy Beto made it harder to make a deal. Convinced many that Dems just want to take your guns away. Will continue forward!”

Later that day, O’Rourke tweeted at Trump: “To be clear: We will buy back every single assault weapon. We’ll also license every gun & do a background check on every buyer. That’s what the American people want — and deserve. The only thing stopping us from ending this epidemic is you & your cowardice. Do the right thing.”

On Thursday, O’Rourke outlined a plan to legalize marijuana including granting clemency to those currently serving sentences for marijuana possession; building a model for marijuana regulation similar to how alcohol is regulated; and working to help those have been adversely impacted by the “war on drugs.”

This will be O’Rourke’s second visit to Trumbull County as a presidential candidate. He made an unannounced stop March 18 at the United Auto Workers Local 1112 union hall to talk privately to Dave Green, then the union’s president.

At the time, Green faced criticism from Trump moments after he appeared on a Fox News show to talk about the idled Lordstown facility. Trump tweeted: “Democrat UAW Local 1112 President David Green ought to get his act together and produce.”

O’Rourke tweeted a photo from his meeting with Green, writing he was “impressed” with “his leadership, the way he’s fought for employees at GM’s Lordstown plant & how he’s conducted himself while being attacked by the president. He’s fighting not just for his members but for their families, this community & all workers.”

Because the Lordstown plant is idled, GM offered Green the option to transfer. Since Aug. 19, he’s worked at a GM facility in Bedford, Ind.

O’Rouke is currently polling at 3 percent nationally among Democratic presidential candidates, according to RealClearPolitics.com. That’s tied for sixth with entrepreneur Andrew Yang. Former Vice President Joe Biden is currently the frontrunner with 28.8 percent.

Ryan is in a three-way tie for 15th place with 0.4 percent, and almost certainly won’t qualify for the fourth Democratic debate Oct. 15 with a second date of Oct. 16 if there are too many candidates. Ryan isn’t close to meeting the polling and donor thresholds for the debate and only has until Oct. 1 to do so. He also didn’t qualify for the third debate on Sept. 12 for the same reasons.