Government

DNC Chairman Perez to Seek Input from Valley Dems

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The chairman of the Democratic National Committee is coming to the Mahoning Valley June 9 to meet with – and try to win back – voters who crossed party lines to help put Donald Trump in the White House.

According to the emailed invitation from the Ohio Democratic Party, DNC Chairman Tom Perez will be at Wedgewood Pizza in Boardman from 1 to 2:30 p.m. to hear from locals and outline the national party’s plans for 2018.

“It’s been more than 120 days since Trump took the oath of office, promising to fight for working people and for places like Ohio. To state the obvious, that’s not what America is witnessing,” the email reads. “We’ve seen attacks on health care, tax cuts at the top, and the undermining of basic democratic principles, but no action whatsoever on issues such as trade and jobs.”

Democrats must fight back, not only by taking on President Trump, but with its own agenda on wages and jobs, it continued.

Joining the DNC chairman at the event are ODP Chairman David Pepper, Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman Dave Betras and Ohio Democrats, according to the email, which contains an RSVP link. Cost to attend is a $25 donation.

Perez’ upcoming visit is “a mutual thing,” Betras said.

“I wanted him here and he wanted to come here because he saw how many [Democrats] crossed over, and he wants to talk to the blue-collar workers here,” he said. “He wants to bring a lot of people back into the party.”

The trip is in response to heavy crossover voting in last year’s election, he acknowledged. Local election offices were shocked by the numbers of Republican ballots voters requested in the primary, and many of those normally Democratic voters backed Trump in the general election. The GOP nominee won normally Democratic Trumbull County and narrowly lost Mahoning County, another Democratic stronghold.

Coming from Buffalo, Perez is a “natural fit” for the Mahoning Valley, Betras said. “He understands the dynamics of the area, the issues that are important to the area,” he said. “He wants to hear from Democrats and activists personally. He wants to hear from the base about how we can improve our message, hone our message and win these Democrats back.”

Mahoning County Republican Party Chairman Mark Munroe encouraged Perez to talk to “the thousands of Valley Democrats” who cast ballots for Trump during his visit.

“He might get an earful as to why Democrats have lost so many seats at the federal, state and local level, with the Valley being a rare exception,” he said in an email. “Security issues, health care, jobs, tax reform and reigning in the overgrown Washington bureaucracy are reasons why Trump continues to enjoy strong support.

“If he’s looking for great pizza, coming to the Valley was a great pick,” he added.

The task ahead for Democrats is to “channel the energy of the past four months into real, tangible results,” according to the email. Building infrastructure now will pay dividends next year and help re-elect U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and reclaim the governor’s mansion.

Brown is being challenged again by state Treasurer Josh Mandel. Brown beat the Republican in 2012, when the Ohio Democrat sought reelection.

A recent Gravis Marketing poll, touted in a Mandel campaign email, showed Mandel leading Brown 45% to 42%.

“A Trump voter is a Sherrod Brown voter,” Betras said. Brown understands blue-collar voters and the issues they face, and he fights for them. “Trump convinced them he was, even though he wasn’t, but Sherrod’s the real deal,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, in a challenge last year to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, blamed Democratic losses in recent years to the party’s failure to attract working class voters. In an email responding to a request for comment, he said he welcomed Perez to the Mahoning Valley.

“There is a lot that Tom can learn from our community and the hardworking men and women living here that help make America work,” Ryan said. “The Democratic Party must ensure we’re doing everything we can to keep communities like ours in the fold by fighting for an economy that doesn’t leave any region behind.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.