People keep asking what’s in store for Allen County now that the Nov. 8 election is 92 days away.
Will Donald Trump stop by?
How about Hillary Clinton? Will she dare step foot in such a Republican stronghold?
All we can say for sure is they’re both going to be all over swing-state Ohio in coming months. Four years ago the Buckeye state had 40 visits from Republican candidate Mitt Romney and 25 from President Barack Obama.
If history is your crystal ball, bet on a visit by Trump or Clinton, if not both.
There was a time when a Democrat presidential candidate wouldn’t bother getting their shoes dirty in Allen County. Barack Obama changed that when he stopped downtown one Sunday in 2008 to attend worship at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church. He then returned four years later as a sitting president. That latter visit came the Friday before the 2012 election and drew an overflow crowd of 3,800 to Lima Senior High School.
Jeff Rex, chairman of Allen County’s Democrat Party, will tell you such visits are part of the Democrats strategy to go beyond the three C’s — Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. They now push into all of Ohio’s 88 counties with hopes of raiding votes from smaller, rural red counties like those in northwest Ohio. Allen County is a perfect example of how well the strategy has worked, Rex said. In 2004, George W. Bush defeated John Kerry in Allen County by 16,000 votes. The margin of Republican victory in 2008 was only 10,000 when John McCain defeated Obama. That year also saw Allen County voters favor Democrat Ted Strickland for governor over eventual winner John Kasich.
“The largest block of voters in Allen County are independents and I don’t see them all lining up for Donald Trump, given all the wild statements he’s made,” Rex said. “A visit by Hillary or [vice president candidate] Tim Kaine could pay dividends.”
So what would bring a visit by The Donald?
Keith Cheney, chairman of the Allen County Republican Party, sees it this way: “Republicans are going to win Allen County, there’s no doubt about that given their dislike of Hillary and of all the dishonesty by the Clintons. It’s just a matter of by how much? A big margin here, which is possible, would help negate likely losses in Cuyahoga County. A Trump visit helps drive that vote.”
The George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan campaigns understood the importance of Allen County, with both Republicans stopping here twice. Fellow Republicans George H.W. Bush, John McCain, Bob Dole, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater also made presidential campaign stops to Lima.
Before Obama’s last visit, the biggest Democrat to visit Lima was President Harry Truman in 1948 and Bill Clinton, who campaigned for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary.
The Democrats were involved in one of the bigger scares involving election visits.
It happened during Obama’s 2012 visit. A surprise train on the Indiana Ohio rail line nearly caused an emergency rerouting of the presidential motorcade after it left the high school. As the front of the 15- to 20-car motorcade approached the intersection of Bellefontaine Avenue and Elm Street, the train’s whistle sounded and the crossing gates went down on the tracks. Authorities were able to stop the slowly moving train. Volunteers then rushed to hold the arms of the railroad crossing up, allowing the motorcade to continue through the crossing without stopping.
“Make no mistake about it,” Cheney reminded us, “Allen County is a Republican stronghold.”
ROSES AND THORNS: The rose garden is blessed by the kind heart of a Lima man.
Rose: To David Copus, a member of Lima’s Loyal Order of Moose Lodge 199. He received the highest national honor that can be bestowed upon a member of the Moose club when he received the Pilgrim Degree of Merit. It was for his years of service of caring for children in need as well as senior citizens.
Rose: To the half-million-dollar donation the family of Dr. Helen Spar Ludwig made to her scholarship fund at Ohio Northern University.
Rose: To Cassidy Castle, the 7-month-old daughter of Catie and Kenny Castle, of Lima. She was named the Sunburst International Finals Baby Queen at a competition in Atlanta.
Rose: To Chris Crosby, of Van Wert, who won a Rolling Cash 5 Ohio Lottery game and pocketed $129,220 after taxes.
Rose: To the MC Back to School Giveaway held Saturday at Faurot Park by area motorcycle clubs. Given away were backpacks filled with school supplies.
Rose: For the umpteenth time, Mary Beth Krumel turns “29” today. Happy birthday.
Thorn: To the office of Ohio State Auditor David Yost, who issued a finding of $13,484 against Cloverdale Mayor Judd Spencer and Fiscal Officer Gwenn Spencer, for bad record keeping. Never mind a tornado left the village records and paperwork in shambles.
Thorn: A malfunction at a Delphos lift station caused raw sewage to flow directly into the Auglaize River. The result was a huge fish kill that downstream left the village of Fort Jennings smelling like rotten fish.
PARTING SHOT: “The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally, not a 20 percent traitor.” — quotation attributed to Ronald Reagan
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.