Map of Ohio with the word Battleground across it

When you know, you know. Take President Donald Trump’s Cincinnati speech just before the El Paso and Dayton nightmares. A handful of lefty protestors compared to roughly 20,000 possessed Trumpers, many of whom use the N-word judiciously and have never read a book.

The Ohio General Assembly is firmly in Republican control. All statewide non-judicial elected officials are also GOP. Ohio now has a six-week abortion ban. Proud Boys are marching down Sawmill Road (with a quick stop at Walmart).

Let’s face it, Ohio is becoming redder. When you see so many speeding pick-up trucks sporting American flags, the obvious is staring in you in the face like a crazed Trump supporter ready to punch you out.

“(Ohio is) clearly becoming more conservative, a bit older,” said Ohio U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown just after Ohio’s dreadful midterms for Democrats. “We still have too many young people leaving. We don’t have enough people moving in, so it’s increasingly hard. And we see fewer workers in unions, which makes it harder, as you know.”

So how does this play out for Ohio’s last boomtown, Columbus? Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission is predicting one million new residents for central Ohio by 2050. Again, a prediction.

We have to ask, will local liberals and progressives evacuate for bluer pastures, such as Austin, Portland and California?

And what about those coveted out-of-state Young Professionals (never mind the Old Amateurs) who are thinking of making Columbus home?

Freep believes a Trump win in 2020 could spell precarious times ahead for a growing and thriving Columbus. Already worrisome is how state preemption laws (which are more conservative) supersede local laws (more progressive). So a $15-an-hour minimum wage for Columbus or a city ban on assault rifles is not happening as long as Republicans run the Statehouse.

Indeed, Dayton once had a ban in place for AR-15-style guns, but in 2006 Ohio passed HB 347 which abolished all local gun laws.

True, Ohio and central Ohio, once considered the swing state and the swing region, voted twice for a progressive black president.

And while all surrounding counties went scarlet for Trump, Franklin County voted 60 percent for Hillary Clinton and has voted for a Democratic president every election since Bill’s victory in 1996.

Maybe Freep’s fear of a red state and a liberal exodus is too influenced by a small group of Proud Boys marching down suburban Sawmill Road of all places.

“I don’t see an alarming exodus and I think each city fends for themselves. Cincinnati has always been a conservative right-wing area,” says local progressive activist and Columbus City Council candidate Joe Motil about Trump’s recent speech there.

“I don’t want to sound like a conspiracist, but I think all this talk about a huge population growth in both Columbus and central Ohio is development driven, an excuse to build all this upscale housing for employees of these new upstarts and Columbus corporations,” says Motil, “the same ones getting all the city income tax abatements.”

Another long-time local Democrat and progressive populist, who wished to remain anonymous, echoed Motil’s sentiment about Cincinnati, where Trump has made seven speeches since 2015.

“Cincinnati is a backwards ass fascist city,” said the source. “Mark Twain said that if the world ever ends, he wants to go to Cincinnati because everything happens 15 years later there. That was in the 1850s.”

Devin Fergus is an associate professor at Ohio State’s Department of African American and African Studies, and before Trump won in 2016, he told us his students, while not surprised there were white racists, were surprised at how many white nationalists are out there.

“They are disheartened, and many of my students are white,” he said. “But I tell my students: I am more interested in the motion picture than the snapshot. Look at the great trend, which goes back to 1988, the center left has won the majority of votes every year but one, and that’s in 2004, and that was because of 9/11 and the Iraq War. Trump is still not a harbinger of things to come.”

Perception is everything and at the moment Ohio is Trump country (gag!). But if Ohio Democrats can reverse their losing streak it will help push back against the state’s trending conservatism and arguably keep Columbus on a path to becoming a dynamic, progressive and soulful blue island such as Austin.

The problem is, and another sign of the times, national Democrats and pundits earlier this year urged the party to abandon Ohio in 2020 and focus on funding on other states, like Texas.

Ohio Democrats immediately postured that Ohio is still a battleground state. State spokesperson Kirsten Alvanitakis forwarded us a slew of statements and tweets from Ohio Democratic Party chairman David Peppers.

“(Besides re-electing Sherrod Brown) we also won two other statewide races when we picked up two Ohio Supreme Court seats, and in the legislature, we flipped six suburban Ohio House seats from red to blue, our first Statehouse pickups of the entire decade,” stated Peppers.

He added the Trump Super PAC is targeting six states, and one of them is Ohio. His campaign has been spending big on digital advertising, and they’re spending more in Ohio than almost any other state. A July Quinnipiac poll had Biden beating Trump in the state 50 percent to 42 percent.

“All of this adds up to one thing – Ohio is still a battleground state. And no one knows that better than the Trump campaign,” Peppers stated.

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