Expect huge crowd for Trump rally

David Skolnick

Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance will have his biggest general election campaign event to date Saturday at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown, in the heart of the congressional district represented by Tim Ryan, his Democratic opponent.

The location is no coincidence. Vance’s last rally, Aug. 19, was at the Metroplex Expo Center in Liberty, also in Ryan’s district.

Like the Liberty event, Vance isn’t the featured attraction at Saturday’s rally, but he’ll benefit.

In Liberty, it was Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential leading 2024 Republican presidential candidate, who was keynote speaker.

Saturday is much bigger: Former President Donald Trump is the main speaker, and his organization is coordinating the event.

Polls show the race between Vance and Ryan is tight and while both sides are spending millions on campaign ads, events like these play a role. Trump’s endorsement of Vance in the final weeks leading to the May 3 primary was vital to him emerging from that crowded race.

Vance is part of Saturday’s opening act that also features two sitting GOP House members — Bill Johnson of Marietta and Jim Jordan of Urbana — along with three Republican candidates for House seats throughout the state.

J.R. Majewski, one of those candidates, is using Trump’s rally as a fundraiser charging up to $2,500 for the “VIP rally experience,” which includes “access to expedited entry with dedicated check-in and security screening,” a seat in a reserved section and a private reception with him.

If you’re going to have an indoor rally of this magnitude in the Mahoning Valley, Covelli is a logical option.

But many of the roads surrounding the downtown facility are either closed or severely restricted because of a major street improvement project. That’s going to make access and parking challenging, particularly for those who typically don’t come downtown.

On top of that, the city’s Oktoberfest is that day, which will bring even more people to an area with a finite amount of space.

Vance and Trump are receiving criticism for scheduling the rally at the same time Ohio State is to play a football game against the University of Toledo. Ohio State football is huge in this state. But Trump won’t have an issue with poor crowds because of the rally’s timing.

Trump remains popular in the Mahoning Valley with local Republican parties repeatedly scheduling those in his orbit as guest speakers at fundraising dinners.

Though Trump failed to win re-election in 2020, he was only the third Republican presidential candidate since 1936 to win Mahoning County. He beat Democrat Joe Biden by 1.9 percent.

Trump did even better in Trumbull County.

He was the first Republican candidate to win that county in two consecutive presidential elections since Herbert Hoover in 1928 and 1932 before Trumbull and Mahoning counties started consistently voting for Democrats in 1936.

He beat Biden by 10.56 percent in Trumbull two years ago and beat Democrat Hillary Clinton by 6.22 percent.

Trump’s victories were key parts of a changing political trend in Mahoning and Trumbull counties. His success helped some Valley Republicans win elections and made a number of other races a lot more competitive than they had been in previous years.

Trump spoke July 25, 2017, at the Covelli Centre to a crowd of about 7,000.

At that rally, Trump said: “I rode through your beautiful roads coming from the airport, and I was looking at some of those big, once incredible job-producing factories, and my wife, Melania, said, ‘What happened?’ I said, ‘Those jobs have left Ohio.’

“They’re all coming back. They’re all coming back. Don’t move. Don’t sell your house … Do not sell it. We’re going to get those values up. We’re going to get those jobs coming back, and we’re going to fill up those factories or rip them down and build brand new ones. It’s going to happen.”

Several major businesses shut down after Trump’s declaration. Among the biggest were Lordstown General Motors and Northside Regional Medical Center.

GM did, however, go on to build a new joint venture electric vehicle battery plant in Lordstown that now is operating and is expected to employ more than 1,000 workers at full production.

Don’t expect Trump to again urge residents not to sell their houses at Saturday’s rally, but he almost certainly will go after Biden for the struggling economy, among other things. If Vance is lucky, Trump will spend time touting his candidacy.


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