YOUNGSTOWN — Organizers of a planned Aug. 19 rally in Youngstown for JD Vance, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate, and led by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, may have found a new location — after the operator of the place where he was to be detained stated that he never agreed to have him on that date.
It could be at the Eastwood Event Center in Niles.
Joe Rzonsa, who manages Blue Wolf Events at the Maronite Center in Youngstown, said officials at Turning Point Action, which booked the rally, originally requested Friday availability a week ago. That date would have worked, he said.
Then the organization asked on Monday to change it to August 19 and Rzonsa said it was impossible because the Maronite Catholic Church of Saint-Maron uses the entire facility this weekend for its annual festival.
“They said they would get back to us after we said no,” Rzonsa said Tuesday of Turning Point. “Then I saw the press release, and we said it had to be taken down. We heard nothing from Turning Point.
When Turning Point, a Republican organization, announced the location of the Vance-DeSantis event on Monday, Rzonsa said he had already informed them that his location was unavailable.
“I woke up (Tuesday) to a lot of phone calls and emails from a lot of confused people,” he said.
Turning Point officials were in discussions on Tuesday with the Eastwood Event Centre, 5577 Youngstown Warren Road in Niles, to hold the event there. A deal could be finalized today.
The center is where an Aug. 22 fundraiser for State Rep. Mike Loychik, R-Bazetta, featuring Donald Trump Jr., will take place.
The Vance-DeSantis event is listed on eventbrite.com as happening in Ohio, but no date or location is provided.
The Vance campaign referenced Turning Point, which organizes campaign tours for DeSantis, considered a top potential 2024 presidential candidate.
A Turning Point spokesperson did not return messages Tuesday seeking comment.
It was also reported Tuesday that another DeSantis event earlier in the day on Aug. 19 in Pittsburgh with Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for governor in Pennsylvania, is also being moved from the location announced the day before.
This event was supposed to take place at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, but there is a scheduling conflict so he will have to move.
The convention center‘s website lists Netroots Nation as having its annual convention on the premises from August 18-21. Netroots is a politically progressive organization.
Mahoning County Republican Party Chairman Tom McCabe, who has leased the Maronite Center for festive events, said the Aug. 19 weekend is the only time the facility cannot be used due to the festival.
“You have vendors and rides that take up the whole area,” he said. “I call other places to help me. It still happens, but we are looking for a new location.
Vance, a venture capitalist and author, is running against U.S. Representative Tim Ryan of Howland, a 10-term congressman and Democratic nominee for the open Senate seat. Incumbent Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, chose not to run.
The scheduling error led Izzi Levy, a spokesperson for Ryan’s campaign, to say of Vance, “It must be difficult for someone who has been away from Ohio for so long to try to set foot here. We are happy to send him a phone book if it can help JD Vance meet a real Ohioian.
Polls show a close race between Vance and Ryan, with the latter raking in significantly more money in a Republican-controlled state. There are also a lot of outside expenses in this race.
Youngstown seems to have been chosen for several reasons: it’s in Ryan’s congressional district and DeSantis’ family is from Mahoning County.
His maternal grandfather, Phil Rogers, was chairman of the Mahoning County Republican Party from the late 1960s to the early 1970s and worked at Youngstown State University as an administrator.