GALLIPOLIS — Gallia Democrats gathered at the Gallipolis AmVets building for their annual Chili Dinner and listened to prospective candidates and Ohio’s democratic leadership as they prepared for the coming Nov. 6 election.
Among those who spoke at the event included candidate for state auditor Zack Space, candidate for Ohio Senate Scott Dailey, candidate and incumbent for the Fourth District Court of Appeals Marie Hoover, candidate for US House of Representatives Ohio sixth district Shawna Roberts, candidate for Fourth District Court of Appeals Valarie Gerlach, candidate for Gallia Commissioner Randy Adkins as well as former Ohio Senator Lou Gentile. Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper served as the evening’s keynote speaker. All speakers and candidates were introduced by Gallia Democratic Chairman Robbie Jenkins.
“I’ve been knocking on doors for like five months,” said candidate for Gallia Commissioner Randy Adkins. “I’ve been trying to get everywhere I can. There are more doors in Gallia County than I thought there were…We’ve been having fun getting out there and meeting people and seeing what Gallia County has to offer. We have a lot of opportunities for new jobs to come here. We have good education and we have the hospital and medical. We have a lot of opportunities here. There’s a lot for tourism. I know there’s a lot of hidden places that I didn’t even know about in Gallia County that are really interesting. Unfortunately, population seems to be dropping lately. So we need to turn that around. We need to get broadband down here because that’s going to play a part in the future of everybody and we need to get it in Gallia to get the jobs and education to go further in everything…I’m going to try my best if I get elected to try everything I can to help the county. I want to thank you all for everything you’ve done…When I first started I didn’t know how I was going to do it but with your support, I’ve done a lot.”
“Everything we care about I believe is on the ballot in 15 days,” said Pepper. “The names on the ballot are great people…We have incredible candidates statewide, for Congress, the Statehouse. It’s the first time we have a candidate for every one of our 99 house districts and everyone of our 17 open Senate seats. That hasn’t happened in the past. We have an 88 county strategy. We have a flood the zone strategy and we need people making the argument for democrats in every corner of Ohio. That was not done in 2016…We’re not talking about the issues like it’s some academic policy study. We’ve got candidates whose kids, young kids now, with preexisting conditions. We have candidate who have been fighting diabetes for 30 years. We have candidates who are living these issues.”
“These candidates are living issues that really matter to everyone in Ohio,” continued Pepper. “That’s why I say everything we care about is on the ballot. Healthcare is perhaps the most important issue in voters minds. You can tell from searching online…Seventy-eight out of 88 of our counties in Ohio, the number one searched thing when it comes to policy is healthcare. That’s the number one issue. People are worried sick about the cost, about the access, about the nonstop attacks (those voting against the Affordable Care Act) every time they can, whether it’s the folks in the State House voting against Medicaid expansion every time they can…Every candidate on our side, from top to bottom, is running hard on protecting healthcare. So, the biggest issue in politics, our folks are there to protect and expand and reduce costs. Their side (Republicans) have literally spent years doing the exact opposite.”
Pepper said he felt republicans had come to understand that voters liked the idea of not “discriminating against preexisting conditions” and were trying to join the movement when they had not before.
“Now that we know that this (national tax cut) is bankrupting our country, now we know that Social Security is on the ballot as well (to potentially be cut),” said Pepper as he referenced candidates and the issues they stood for. “And Medicare, it’s like Mitch McConnell (US Senator Majority Leader) wanted to do us a favor the other day when he admitted that that’s next. Somehow, the reason for the exploding (national deficit) is not the massive tax giveaway, now they’re saying it’s because of Social Security and we have to reign it in.”
Pepper also expressed concern with what he deemed the state’s lack of support for local government issues.
“The way to fix it is to elect new members to the State House and State Senate,” he said. “Because they will break up the culture and bring it back to the people…The good news is we have a chance to do it…Statewide we are literally tied or ahead in almost every single race, statewide. We should only take polls so far…It’s hard to win Ohio if you’re a democrat. We say we’re a swing state and sometimes we are, but people like Barack Obama have made it look easier than it is to win Ohio as a democrat. Sherrod Brown makes it look easy. John Glenn, he made it look easy. They were special and we have special candidates. But most midterms, it is not easy. It is tough…So the idea with 15 days ago that we are tied across the board…it is a once in a generation opportunity. It will benefit us if we win for a decade.”
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.