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Trump, Biden bypass Valley

With early voting underway in Ohio and less than three weeks before the Nov. 3 election, there’s a lot of political activity in the Mahoning Valley.

But one thing we have yet to see in our area is a campaign visit from either the Republican or Democratic presidential or vice presidential candidates.

If the Valley doesn’t get one, it would be the first time in decades we haven’t been a campaign stop.

Yes, Vice President Mike Pence was at the June 25 unveiling of Lordstown Motors Corp.’s Endurance truck and touted the work of President Donald Trump, and later spoke at the Youngstown Police Department. But those weren’t campaign visits even if parts felt as if they were.

In a nonpandemic world, at least one of the candidates would have been in the Valley by now, particularly because Ohio is in play in this presidential election.

Pence, a Republican, on Monday was in Columbus and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden made campaign stops the same day in Toledo and Cincinnati. U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate, was to appear today in Cleveland, but canceled after her communications director was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Also, the day after the Sept. 29 debate in Cleveland, Biden had campaign appearances in that city and in Alliance.

Because of COVID-19, we’re not going to see the huge rallies of previous years. Well, I hope the campaigns would be responsible enough not to attempt to pack thousands of people into locations for such events even though Trump has had such rallies elsewhere.

While rallies and public events likely aren’t going to persuade voters to support a particular ticket, they’re important to energize the base and get out the vote.

Over the years, I’ve been to about a half-dozen Biden rallies and with the exception of one, none of them drew much of a crowd.

The lone exception was an Oct. 29, 2012, event at Youngstown’s Covelli Centre with about 6,000 in attendance. But that came with a caveat as Biden was a last-minute replacement for then-President Barack Obama, who was to headline the rally with former President Bill Clinton, but he had to cancel.

Trump’s July 26, 2017, rally at the same facility drew 7,000 with the president uttering his now famous line about jobs “coming back. Don’t sell your house.”

I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of the big four show up in the Valley for an event as it’s an important part of the state even though locals say they’ve heard nothing from the campaigns about stops here. But those visits usually come together very quickly with little advance notice.

More likely, the area will get a stop from a family member of one of the candidates.

For decades, Mahoning and Trumbull counties were reliable Democratic strongholds, providing solid numbers for the political party’s presidential candidates.

But that changed in 2016.

Trump handily won Ohio by 8.13 percent, and that solid victory was reflected in the numbers he received in the Mahoning Valley.

Trump became the first Republican since Richard Nixon in 1972 to win Trumbull County. He beat Democrat Hillary Clinton by 6.22 percent.

He came very close to winning Mahoning County. Clinton won by a mere 3.28 percent.

When it comes to Trump, numerous people in this area ignored their party affiliation and backed the president in 2016.

It wouldn’t be a shock to see Trump win Trumbull County again, and Mahoning County certainly is in play for him as it was four years ago.

While Trump did well in the area, he didn’t help any of his fellow Republicans further down the ticket in either Mahoning or Trumbull counties.

Plenty of local candidates are hoping it’s different in this election.

Of particular note, Christina Hagan, the Republican nominee for the 13th Congressional District, has attached herself to Trump in her bid to defeat nine-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland.

Ryan has seen his margin of victory decrease over the past few elections. But during the 2018 election, he still was able to beat Republican Chris DePizzo by about 22 percent. It was his closest race as an incumbent, but that’s still a comfortable victory.

It will be closer with Hagan. We’ll find out how close after all of the votes are counted.

Skolnick covers politics for The Vindicator and the Tribune Chronicle.

dskolnick@tribtoday.com

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