LIMA — Allen County has long been seen as a solid Republican area, but at the Allen County Democratic Fall Dinner Monday at the Knights of Columbus Hall, there was optimism that in 2016, the county could take on a new shade of Democratic blue.
“It’s been really exciting,” Allen County Democratic Party Chairman Jeff Rex said. “We’ve got a big turnout and a lot of people coming back who we haven’t seen in a while. People are seeing that Allen County is important and that we can make a difference in the election.”
Serving as the keynote speaker for the evening, state Rep. David Leland, D-Columbus, formerly the state party chairman, urged Allen County Democrats to continue to step up its efforts to promote Democratic candidates in the November election, especially presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“Every vote counts, with a vote in Allen County having the same impact as a vote in Franklin County or Cuyahoga County,” he said. “Ohio is where we stop Donald Trump. There is no way that a Republican can win the presidency without winning Ohio, so if we can carry Ohio for Hillary Clinton, we will win the election. We are the luckiest Democrats in America because there are hardworking Democrats in New York, California, Texas and other states who will not decide who the next president of the United States will be. We will.”
While Leland acknowledged that Allen County still may end up voting Republican overall, any gains the Democratic Party can make will still help with the overall goal of winning Ohio for Clinton.
“My message is that we win in Ohio when we all work together,” he said. “Each of those votes will add to the overall total.”
Also attending the dinner was Ohio House Minority Leader Rep. Fred Strahorn, D-Dayton, who also expressed hope that inroads could be made for spreading the message of the Democratic Party. Bringing more people into the fold, however, will take a long-term commitment, he said.
“We typically fight for the financial interests of the vast majority of people,” he said. “But the relationships and communication have to be better with showing what that looks like. What I push for within the party is building long-term relationships with people. We need people in the party to spend time with people outside the party and let them know what the Democratic Party is all about.”
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.