County commissioners question motive behind presidential candidate’s Lordstown visit

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Commissioners say they wonder if Beto O'Rourke is trying to exploit the ongoing strike with GM and rumors of a new product

LORDSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Even before Democratic Presidential-hopeful Beto O’Rourke arrived in the area Wednesday afternoon, some were questioning his motives.

“I have no idea what his stop here is about, but rumors are saying it has to do partly with General Motors,” said Mahoning County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti.

O’Rourke was scheduled to stop in Lordstown to have a roundtable discussion with local labor leaders. The visit was not open to the public.

Commissioners say they’ve heard that the former Texas Congressman, who has been consistently polling in low single-digits, has been meeting with business executives in both Ohio and Pennsylvania concerning the potential for building electric vehicles or batteries at the now-idled GM Complex in Lordstown.

Commissioners said they want to be part of any discussions like that.

“I want to see exactly what it is, but if it’s with respect to making an announcement of General Motors, we’d just like to know what’s gonna happen,” Traficanti said.

This isn’t the first visit by a presidential candidate this year.

Bernie Sanders was in Lordstown in April soon after the GM complex closed.

Kristen Gillibrand, who recently ended her campaign, was in Youngstown two months ago; and local Congressman and Presidential candidate Tim Ryan has made frequent stops — just last week visiting the strike line in Lordstown.

“Most Presidential candidates who run in the primary always want to come to the Mahoning Valley,” Traficanti said.

In this particular case, commissioners are left wondering if O’Rourke is trying to exploit the ongoing strike with GM and rumors of a new product.

“For somebody to come in and half promise, you can’t give anything until you’re elected, so I don’t respect that,” said Commissioner Carol Righetti.

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