Why a shuttered auto plant in Ohio could doom Democrats from picking up a key Senate seat
TonYoungstown, Ohio, had a lot of single-question voters last weekend when Donald Trump and JD Vance were in town.
On a warm summer evening, as the sun went down, thousands of the former president’s supporters poured into the Coveley Center, ignoring the in-state start at the same time between Ohio State and Toledo. showdown.
Despite Mr Trump’s signature rambling speech aimed at condemning the “radical left” and the fact that the FBI is investigating him for keeping apparently classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, there was a theme just about every single person in the room. Personal: General Motors retreated from Lordstown in 2019, a large industrial complex and car plant a few miles away.
This is not surprising. Youngstown, a working-class city of more than 60,000 people facing decades of population decline due to similar closures of manufacturing centers and other heavy industries, as Donald Trump has said, “represents the slump of the economy.” Center Castings has captured America’s Rust Belt for generations.
in an interview independent Near New York City on Saturday, nearly a dozen Trump supporters and protesters picketed in his presence to discuss the 2019 shutdown — a question most of them raised completely unconsciously .
It’s clearly a bad sign for Congressman Tim Ryan, the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, and most seem disappointed with the 49-year-old lawmaker who has represented the Youngstown district for nearly a decade.
General Motors’ Lordstown plant was once the undisputed regional heavyweight in terms of economic opportunity for the Youngstown working class. At its peak, it employed more than 10,000 people—one-tenth the city’s figure at the time. By the late 2010s, that number had shrunk considerably, but was still the biggest name in town, dropping to around 1,400 when it finally closed in 2019.When it finally closed, residents in the area were distraught, told New York Times At the time the plant was the last real economic driver in the region, and Youngstown was predicted to collapse after it.
News of the plant’s imminent end to the eventual shutdown waned in late November 2018, with Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives for less than a month and Mr Ryan being re-elected for another two years. Also reelected was Sherrod Brown, the state’s Democratic senator, who cleanly defeated a Republican US representative seeking his seat in the upper chamber.
Mr Ryan responded to the announcement by declaring the day the new “Black Monday”, referring to the September 1977 Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company’s decision to close its plant and furlough 5,000 workers in the area , which is widely regarded as the beginning of the region. The end of Youngstown’s steel industry.
“Thousands of families made sacrifices to make GM what it is today. In return, GM turned their backs on us when we needed them most,” Mr Ryan said at the time, adding: “Like General Motors and [Donald Trump] are the only ones who benefit from an economy that is rigged against workers who play by the rules and still don’t make it. “
But on Saturday, those gathered in Youngstown to support Trump accused Ryan and Brown of not doing more to keep GM in the area. No one mentioned the former president’s White House pledge to save the factory. Lordstown Motors, where GM sold the plant, plans to build just 500 vehicles there this year. The new partnership with Foxconn is said to boost those numbers, but it has yet to achieve anything close to what the factory looked like a few years ago.
One of Mr. Trump’s supporters even claimed in an interview that Mr. Brown was told the plant was closing months before the election.
“Sherrod Brown knew nine months ago that it was going to close, and he chose to remain silent,” John Pleava told Reuters independent.
Of Mr Ryan’s campaign, he quipped: “We don’t need help like this anymore.”
He and others talked about the fallout from GM’s exit. As the largest employer, even the end of well-paid union jobs for thousands of the city’s residents has devastated businesses in all walks of life.
“Those people have home loans. They have IRAs,” Mr. Pleava said of the company’s former employees. “They have a lot of stuff… A lot of people have lost their homes… A lot of people have moved out of state.”
“It was like a torpedo went off,” Mr. Pleava said, pointing to Market Street and other once-bustling parts of the city center.
“The buildings are still there, but they are shells,” he said.
A few blocks away, a group of protesters waved signs denouncing the former president as a fascist, dismissing the accusation and pointing out that Ryan had little practical action to do beyond speaking up. But they did express disappointment with Democrats, who they believe have missed an opportunity to voice the needs of the region.
There, Chucky Dennison, one of Lordstown’s former employees, displayed a pillowcase banner that he later unfolded inside the Coveley Center as Trump spoke to thousands of fans.
“Trump lost 3,000 Lordstown jobs — and the 2020 election,” it declared in bold red font.
Now affiliated with Our Revolutionary Group, which is aligned with Bernie Sanders, Mr Dennison described his party’s Senate nominee as missing an opportunity to deliver a progressive message and provide something for those left in Lordstown.
“He has a chance to be one of the best representatives in the country. Instead, he chose oil and gas,” Mr. Dennison explained, while noting with some disappointment that he still plans to support the congressman over his Republican opponent, JD Vance.
Mr. Dennison and others in the conversation described GM’s end in Lordstown as an earthquake that touched everyone in the city. He explained that for every factory worker, there are more than six community members who are “supported” for employment in various industries, or more accurately dependent on the work of that factory worker.
Mr Dennison’s description of Mr Ryan’s missed opportunity may be logical. The Ohio congressman, whose campaign has included keeping his distance from progressives like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, is currently polling several points behind his opponents, according to a new Emerson College poll. hill.
In neighboring Pennsylvania, with its own economic turmoil as industry exits, Lieutenant Gov. John Fettman has done the opposite and pledged to be a team player in Congress — his first in that Senate race. The polls are ahead of Republican nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz, although the race has intensified after the Democrats suffered a stroke earlier this year.
Mr Dennison suggested Mr Ryan should give his full support to progressive causes, including the Pro-Bill, a pro-union legislation popular on the left that includes an end to anti-union “right to work” national laws.
“The Democratic Party is primarily a party of the people. The poor, the working class, the elderly, the disabled,” Mr Dennison argued. “Although they are our lifeline, they are not really fighting.”