Trump wins big in Valley funding
Local races to watch Tuesday include state reps, county judge
Nearly all of the attention in this election is on the presidential race.
After all, it’s the main — and in some cases, the only — reason why people are voting this year.
Mahoning Valley results should be interesting given that Donald Trump became only the third Republican since 1936 to win Trumbull County, beating Democrat Hillary Clinton by 6.22 percent in 2016. He also came close to being the third Republican to win Mahoning County, losing to Clinton by 3.28 percent.
If he holds Trumbull and wins Mahoning this year, it will go a long way toward Trump emerging as victor again in Ohio, though there’s little chance the margin would be as solid as against Clinton when he won Ohio by 8.13 percent.
Most polls have a tight race in Ohio between Trump and Democrat Joe Biden.
We all understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has altered how Trump and Biden and their surrogates have campaigned this year with Democrats being more cautious than Republicans.
But Democrats have virtually ignored the Mahoning Valley, except for sending a bus and using local elected officials as surrogates, even though I can speak to them almost anytime I please.
Mahoning Republicans have brought in some notable speakers, while the Trump campaign is relying on the president’s children to campaign for him.
Donald Trump Jr., the president’s oldest son, was at The Maronite Center in Youngstown on Monday for a rally that attracted about 400 people packed into a room that realistically was set up for about half that amount because of social distancing.
Ivanka Trump will have an event in the area Saturday.
If money is an indicator, the Valley is Trump Country.
NPR created a database of total contributions to the Trump and Biden campaigns as well as the Republican and Democratic National Committees since 2019.
Trump had a huge head start as he has been in campaign mode since the moment he was elected in November 2016, but Biden quickly caught up.
(A special thanks to @MVRedPodcast on Twitter for pointing this out to me. He’s also a good follow.)
As of Oct. 14, the most recent filing deadline date, Trump and the RNC raised $400,638 to $107,411 for Biden and the DNC in Mahoning County.
In Trumbull County, the difference is even greater. Trump and the RNC raised $508,768 in Trumbull compared to only $62,965 for Biden and the DNC.
LOCAL RACES TO WATCH
Regarding local down-ticket races, three to keep an eye on involve incumbents who were appointed to their positions.
The Ohio House 59th District race in Mahoning County pits state Rep. Al Cutrona, R-Canfield, appointed to the seat May 28, against Chris Stanley, a Canfield Democrat. Both are running for elected office for the first time.
The district initially leaned Democratic but has become more conservative over the years. Republican Don Manning, who died 14 months into his term, won in 2018 by only 375 votes over Democrat Eric Ungaro.
For a first-time candidate, Stanley has done a solid job raising money, collecting $67,191.39 between May 30 and Oct. 14.
While it was the third-most money of any state legislative candidate from the Valley in this election, Cutrona was second (only state Sen. Sean O’Brien, D-Bazetta, raised more).
Cutrona raised $111,092.35 between May 30 and Oct. 14, loaned $50,000 to his campaign as he had promised, and received $142,167.25 in in-kind contributions.
The Ohio House 63rd District seat in Trumbull County is the area’s most financially competitive legislative race.
State Rep. Gil Blair, D-Weathersfield, raised $46,300.01 to $38,792.35 for Michael Loychik of Cortland, his Republican opponent, between May 30 and Oct. 14.
Blair was appointed to the seat May 31, 2019, and while he was a Weathersfield township trustee before, this is a big step up. He did well in the Democratic primary though his two challengers weren’t strong.
Loychik is running for the first time, and nearly all of the money he raised came from the campaign committees of four Republican state legislators, showing state Republican officials have faith that Loychik can be competitive in this race.
The district still leans Democratic, and we’ll see if Trump can do what he failed to do in 2016: help down-ticket Republicans in the Valley tied to his name.
The final race to watch with an appointee filling a vacant seat is for Mahoning County Court judge.
Republican J.P. Morgan of Boardman got the appointment March 11, 2019, and is challenged by Democrat Joe Schiavoni, a former 10-year state senator. There aren’t party affiliations for judicial candidates on ballots in Ohio.
Schiavoni raised more than Morgan from donors between May 30 and Oct. 14 — $45,980 to $33,725, but Morgan’s wife, Ronnie, also loaned $25,000 to the campaign.
In a different 2018 county court race, Morgan finished fourth of six candidates. It was the only political office he’s sought, and it was a poor showing.
Schiavoni won two terms in the state Senate and didn’t have an opponent for his final election. He then ran for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2018. While he got his clock cleaned by Richard Cordray, Schiavoni won Mahoning and Trumbull, the only two counties in the state to not go for Cordray.
Still this is a county court race, which means cities such as Youngstown, Struthers and Campbell, with municipal courts don’t vote for this position. Those are all very reliable Democratic areas so that hurts Schiavoni. Also, this is such a down-ticket race it’s on the second side of most ballots and can be easily overlooked.
Skolnick covers politics for the Tribune Chronicle and The Vindicator.