Ohio party chair addresses Lawrence County GOP

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 6, 2019

The Tribune/Heath Harrison
Lawrence County Auditor Jason Stephens, who serves a chair of the Lawrence County Republican Party, addresses the Lincoln Day dinner at South Point High School on Thursday.

Timken spoke at party’s annual Lincoln Day dinner

SOUTH POINT — “We rocked it,” Ohio Republican chairwoman Jane Timken said of her party’s performance in the 2018 midterm elections in Ohio.

While Democrats made national gains in most states, this was not the case in the Buckeye state in November, with Republicans winning the governor’s mansion, holding their congressional delegation and taking all statewide offices, and Democratic victories were limited to the re-election of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and capturing two state Supreme Court seats.

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“We turned out in all of great counties like yours,” Timken told the Lincoln Day dinner of the Lawrence County Republican Party at South Point High School on Tuesday.

The success of the party was similar in Lawrence County last year, with County Commissioner Freddie Hayes Jr. re-elected, while the party saw the election of two judges.

“It was the first time in years that we elected a court of appeals just from Lawrence County,” county chair Jason Stephens said of Jason Smith’s victory over Marie Hoover on the 4th Circuit.

And he noted that the party had also elected Christen Finley as the first woman to serve as Lawrence County Common Pleas judge.

“We had a lot to celebrate in 2018 and we’re looking forward to 2019,” he said.

Timken said the key for the party going forward would be to “stay unified.”

“We may have our difference, but we need to work together,” she said.

As for what she brings to the party in future elections, Timken, who has served as chair since 2017, cited her time playing rugby while enrolled at Harvard.

“It’s not a dainty sport,” she said. “I’m tough and competitive and I will fight for our candidates, for President Trump and for all of you.”

Timken stopped by the Tribune prior to the dinner and outlined her priorities for the next few years.

She said she has been traveling the state constantly since becoming chair, establishing ties with county parties.

“I’ve put about 80-90,000 miles on my car,” he said, stating she wants to foster partnership with local officials through events like county dinners. “It’s important to show up. The county parties fuel the relationship with the state party.”

While there are no statewide races on the ballot in 2019, she said the party will remain active, offering assistance for city and municipal races.

“Our political team will work with the county parties,” she said.

The following year will be a major one for her and she says her top jobs will be to deliver the state’s electoral votes again for President Donald Trump, focus on congressional race and to win the two state Supreme Court races on the ballot.

While the races are non-partisan, Democratic-affiliated candidates gained two seats on the court, reducing its 7-0 conservative majority to one of 5-2.

In 2020, incumbent Republican-affiliated candidates Judi French and Sharon Kennedy are up for re-election, making control of the court up for grabs.

“I remember the days of the Gang of Four,” Timken said of previous control by the opposition, stating her dislike for rulings on issues like tort reform.

As for the presidential race, she said she does not expect the Democrats to perform well in Ohio, summarizing their message as “the Green New Deal, socialism and pro-abortion.”

“I don’t think it will fit with Ohio, she said.

She says Ohio will remain in its role as a battleground state. No Republican has ever been elected without carrying the state.

“It leans, right, but there’s such a diversity here,” she said, citing the urban/rural divide and the variety of industries.

“Ohio’s always been a bellweather. It’s a microcosm of the entire nation.”

Timken also had praise for newly-elected Gov. Mike DeWine.

“They’re investing in the state of Ohio,” she said of his team. “I really love his focus on children and families. I think he’s doing a great job.”

Timken said DeWine is focusing on the opioid crisis through the narcotics task force.

“And he wants to expand access to treatment,” she said, favoring a diverse approach. “There’s not one single solution to solve all of this.”

In addition to the Lincoln Day dinner, the Lawrence County Republican Party will host First Friday and cookout events throughout the year, which organizers describe as an opportunity for fellowship and networking.

The Lawrence County Democrats will host their annual dinner in the fall.