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Trump rally goes elsewhere

David Skolnick

After being rejected at least twice — by the Canfield and Portage County fairgrounds — former President Donald Trump will have a rally April 23 at the Delaware County Fairgrounds.

Mahoning and Portage counties were once reliably Democratic — particularly Mahoning. But that’s not the case anymore, and Trump is largely responsible.

In the 2020 election, Republicans, led by Trump, won every contested race in Portage County.

In that same election, Trump beat Democrat Joe Biden by 1.9 percent in Mahoning County, becoming just the third Republican to win there since 1936.

While state Rep. Al Cutrona of Canfield was the only other Republican to win in 2020 in Mahoning, the GOP candidates were significantly more competitive in the county than they’ve been in decades.

The Portage County Fair Board rejected a request from Trump’s team because it has a policy of not allowing political events at the location.

The Canfield Fair board would have welcomed Trump, but couldn’t accommodate him because of its busy schedule.

Trump’s team wanted the fairgrounds from April 22 to 24 with an expected April 23 rally, a little more than a week before the May 3 primary.

The Trump team called Canfield Fair board officials in the middle of March and came to the location at the end of that month.

But Angels for Animals has its annual garage sale throughout the fairgrounds that weekend, and a toy show is scheduled April 23 at the fair’s event center.

The fair books many of its events a year ahead, so squeezing in a rally that would attract thousands of people in a tight time frame wasn’t possible.

With at least two fairgrounds turning away Trump for that weekend, his team looked elsewhere.

The team came to an agreement with the Delaware County Fair board for an April 23 rally.

Delaware County has been a Republican stronghold since 1856, the first year the party fielded a presidential candidate. Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and 1916 is the only Democratic presidential candidate to ever win Delaware County.

Trump’s 6.8 percent win in 2020 there was the closest margin of victory for a Republican presidential candidate in 56 years. Trump won Delaware by 15.8 percent in 2016.

It’s uncertain if Trump is coming to Ohio to announce endorsements in the Republican U.S. Senate and gubernatorial primaries.

It’s unlikely, but Trump is unpredictable.

Mike DeWine, the Republican incumbent governor, is facing three challengers. While DeWine has supported Trump, his loyalty isn’t as strong as his three opponents. That includes ex-U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, who received Trump’s endorsement in his unsuccessful 2018 Senate race against Democrat Sherrod Brown.

An endorsement from Trump would help Renacci. But with DeWine seen as the front-runner, Trump likely is hesitant to back a challenger. Trump typically supports candidates he believes will win by a convincing margin.

That’s also why an endorsement from Trump isn’t expected in the Senate race.

The race is competitive and while a Trump endorsement would put one of the candidates in a better position, he isn’t likely to risk backing someone who could lose.

One thing is certain: Trump is going to again endorse Max Miller, a former aide, for the 7th Congressional District seat in the Republican primary.

That Trump is doing it in Delaware County, which is in the 4th Congressional District, apparently doesn’t matter to him.

Miller is facing three other Republicans in the May 3 primary.

Miller initially had a bigger challenge in that primary with U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, a Republican first elected in 2010, planning to seek another term.

Republicans had first drawn Miller into a different district, but that map was ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court.

The Republican-controlled Ohio Redistricting Commission approved a second map that put Gibbs and Miller in the same district. While that map is facing constitutionality issues, the court briefing schedule is after the May 3 primary so congressional candidates are on that ballot. Early voting started last week.

After Trump made it clear he was still backing Miller over Gibbs, who’s loyal to the former president, the incumbent said last week he was retiring.

That’s the influence Trump could have in the Senate race — if he used it.

Skolnick covers politics for The Vindicator and the Tribune Chronicle.

dskolnick@tribtoday.com

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