CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – Ten years ago, selling out a large banquet hall for a Republican Party function in Mahoning County would have been unheard of but not anymore.
Donald Trump won Mahoning County in November, and many of those who supported him showed up Friday in Canfield. In these days of few tickets being printed, it was the hottest ticket in town.
It was all happening at Canfield’s Waypoint Banquet Center, where Mahoning County Republican Party Chairman Tom McCabe was scurrying around finding people seats and greeting others with hugs.
“We’re expecting 550 people tonight. It’s just great to see the excitement,” McCabe said.
It was Mahoning County’s Lincoln Day dinner, an event to celebrate everything Republican. It was sold out. Sixty people were on a waiting list and McCabe knows why.
“You know Donald Trump in 2016 was partially responsible for this. We kind of rode this wave, and this is exciting,” he said.
It was a who’s who of Republicans. Congressman Bill Johnson, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, State Senator Mike Rulli, State Representatives Al Cutrona and Mike Loychik, and Columbiana County Republican Party Chairman Dave Johnson. There were three Republican candidates for U.S. Senate Mark Pukita of Columbus, investment banker Mike Gibbons of Cleveland, and former state party chairwoman Jane Timken.
“I’ve spend the last four years fighting for the America first agenda, proudly championing President Trump’s accomplishments and plan on doing that in the U.S. Senate,” Timken said.
Gibbons talked about his campaign, too, saying we are not sending the right people to Washington.
“I think if you are going to the U.S. Senate, you have to have some history of accomplishment, done something more in your life so you know what the real world is all about, and that’s not the people we’re sending,” Gibbons said.
Pukita talked about the direction of the Republican Party.
“I really believe we need to move the Republican Party to a populist, economic, nationalist kind of direction. We need to be the party of the working person,” Pukita said.
McCabe didn’t know what would happen after Trump lost the election, but the big turnout eased that concern.
“We were a little concerned going into 2021 after the presidential election and what happened with the results,” McCabe said. “I really think this is here to stay.”
The guest speakers for the dinner were Trey Gowdy, a former South Carolina Congressman and Mark Robinson, the first black Lieutenant governor of North Carolina.