WAPAKONETA — Wapakoneta High School students may not have been convinced by the progressive talking points presented by Tara Samples, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dennis Kucinich’s running mate, during a visit to the school, but the students — members of the WHS Youth in Government group — admitted that the effort to reach out to conservative voters at least shows a willingness to talk to both sides.
It’s not the first time the group has hosted political candidates. Both Doug Spencer, an Auglaize County Commissioner seeking re-election, and Susan Manchester, Republican candidate for Ohio’s House District 84, have talked to the group in the past. But Samples is the first political candidate who leans much farther left than the typical political candidate the region tends to elect.
“We’ve seen an increase in party line voting,” senior Michael Johnston said. “It’s important to reach out to younger voters and have this sense of respect for the other party.”
That doesn’t mean the group agreed with all that Samples said. Senior Sarah Schmidt didn’t understand where funding for two free years of college education would come from without major changes to the U.S. education system, and senior Kurt Schlenker had doubts about a minimum wage hike, but Sample’s willingness to discuss the issues with them at least had them listening.
“I don’t personally agree with what she said. It did change my mind how the opposing side feels about certain issues,” senior Joey Metzger said.
Kucinich’s campaign has begun to maneuver the candidate away from the far-left position he has typically occupied on the pre-2016 political spectrum. Instead, the campaign is working to paint Kucinich as a populist candidate able to appeal to the swath of voters dissatisfied with established politicians of both political parties.
“You have to be willing to meet people where they are first, and it’s always about the issues. And this is about talking and speaking to the issues that everyone regardless of party, that they are passionate about,” Samples said.
Latest polling puts Kucinich and opposing Democratic candidate Richard Cordray neck-in-neck in the primary race despite Cordray’s lead in campaign fundraising.
“People want to make sure that there are jobs, that there is clean water, that there’s a decent minimum wage and that there’s healthcare for everyone. These are things that speak to people across the spectrum regardless of party,” Samples said. “I think that’s important for them to know that they actually have representatives that care about representing people.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.