Officials at the Delaware County Fairgrounds were just as surprised as ticket holders were on Thursday afternoon when news broke that President Donald Trump’s planned visit to the fairgrounds to stump for Troy Balderson — Republican nominee for Ohio’s 12th Congressional District seat — had abruptly switched venues.
“They never gave us a reason,” said Sandy Kuhn, Delaware County Fairgrounds manager, in regard to the decision by the Republican Party to move the venue to Lewis Center. “We’re going to assume that it was capacity.”
Kuhn added the U.S. Secret Service was told the maximum capacity of the Coliseum at the fairgrounds is 1,500 people.
“By the time it made it to D.C., it was 2,500,” she said. “They wanted to put more in, and they had planned for an overflow.”
Trump’s rally for Balderson will take place at 6:30 p.m. today at Olentangy Orange High School, 2840 E. Orange Road, Lewis Center. Doors open at 3:30 p.m., and as of press time, tickets to the rally were still available at www.donaldjtrump.com. Individuals may register for up to two tickets per mobile phone number, and all tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
President Trump is making the last-minute stop in Delaware County just days before the special election on Tuesday, Aug. 7, to help bolster support for Balderson, who is involved in a three-way race to finish the remainder of Rep. Pat Tiberi’s, R-Genoa, term in the U.S. House of Representatives, which expires Jan. 3, 2019. Tiberi resigned from his 12th District seat in January.
On Wednesday, Balderson’s campaign manager, Jenna Knepper, reached out to The Gazette on Balderson’s behalf.
“Troy is honored to have President Trump in Delaware County on Saturday to remind people to vote on Aug. 7 and is proud to be endorsed by President Trump, Vice President Pence, Gov. John Kasich and former Congressman Pat Tiberi,” she said. “Troy has a proven record of cutting taxes, balancing budgets and fighting for the middle class, and he will work with the president to make the middle-class tax cuts permanent, something dishonest Danny O’Connor refuses to do.”
In a district that is predominately Republican, Balderson is facing opposition from Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor, D-Columbus, and entrepreneur Joe Manchik, G-Reynoldsburg. Early voting began July 10 for the special election in a district that includes Delaware, Morrow and Licking counties, and parts of Franklin, Marion, Muskingum, and Richland counties.
The gap in Balderson’s lead over O’Connor has narrowed from 10 percentage points to one in the past months, according to a recently released poll.
“Balderson the Republican has 44 percent support and O’Connor the Democrat has 43 percent support among all potential voters… Joe Manchik — the Green Party candidate who got nearly 4 percent of the vote two years ago — earns just 2 percent,” stated a Monmouth University Poll released on Aug. 1, 2018.
“This is Troy Balderson’s final audition for the old club of (Washington) D.C. politicians who are bought and paid for by special interests and party bosses,” said O’Connor Wednesday. “It’s clear that our grassroots campaign is surging at the right moment because central Ohio is ready for new leadership.”
O’Connor will make a scheduled stop in the city of Delaware at 4 p.m. today at the Ross Street Park Gazebo, 50 Ross St., to share, listen, and answer questions from voters during a meet and greet.
Louise Valentine, the Democratic nominee for the Ohio Senate District 19 seat, said on Friday that she finds it ironic the rally is now being held at Olentangy Orange High School.
“While President Trump rallies supporters at Olentangy Orange High School, students, teachers, and parents will remember that it was Education Committee Chairman Andrew Brenner and his fellow Republican lawmakers who allowed ECOT (Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow) to steal over $600,000 from Olentangy Local Schools,” Valentine said.
Valentine is challenging Brenner for a seat in the Ohio Senate in the upcoming November general election.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.