The Lincoln Day Dinner of 2022: Battles coming, going, and brewing

It’s always good to talk about nice things, and the Lincoln Day Dinner for 2022 for the Butler County Republican Party was undoubtedly something good to talk about. Like I say all the time, politics is a blood sport. People aren’t always supposed to get along. So it’s not the function of a prominent Republican gathering at the Savanah Center in West Chester to just have everyone get along, even though they did. The goal of politics is to get the best people into public offices that can be obtained. Often the best management of any resource involves pressure applied to individual vision to draw it out for the public’s benefit. In Butler County, with Todd Hall as the party’s Chairman, it has undoubtedly been a success story. Butler County is a large, wealthy county in Ohio; it has over 400,000 people and a major national university. And every officeholder position in the county is held by a Republican. That is something to say and provides a good indication of what the people of Butler County are really like. But it’s not easy to manage all the ‘A type” personalities who get into politics for their communities. The people who run for office don’t tend to be the shy types, so managing all those personalities, especially when they sometimes get cross with each other, is quite a challenge, and Todd Hall does the job well, which culminated in the evening at that dinner which was nothing short of magnificent. 

Mike Pompeo came in to speak at this Lincoln Day event, along with the nationally bestselling author Vivek Ramaswamy, who managed to find time between Fox News media appearances to give a rousing speech to a hungry room of freedom fighters. Warren Davidson, of course, was there and was instrumental in bringing Mike Pompeo in, fresh from the Trump administration, where we all had the feeling of reloading for the next round of political battles that were coming next. I had a chance to talk to Jim Renacci a lot as he came down from his campaign for governor of Ohio, which is going well. There were many people from all over the state of Ohio who came to this Butler County Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner, which filled the Savannah Center into every crevasse. It was great to see so many friends in one place simultaneously. The battles that everyone fights for are worth it, especially on evenings like that one. During primary season, like the one we have this year where there are so many contentious races, such as the governor race where Mike DeWine is running for re-election, and Jim Renacci was challenging him, it would be easy to have factions of discontent which wouldn’t even be able to shake hands. But the event’s mood, led by Todd Hall and guided by the diligent hands of hundreds of volunteers who worked behind the scenes for the party’s best interests, provided an atmosphere that felt more like Mar-a-Lago from Trump’s Florida home than just another political gathering. Every last touch had behind it a love of country and an intention to do good in the world. Different people, of course, have different ideas about what good is, but the pursuit of it was apparent for all to see. 

It’s not like the Butler County Republican Party was playing things easy; they recently endorsed Jim Renacci for governor over the incumbent. In the audience was Justice Pat DeWine, the son of the governor.  Jane Timken was in the audience, and Mike Gibbons, who are both running for the hotly contested Senate seat soon to be vacated by Rob Portman. There were literally hundreds of contentious side stories that could fill novels that interacted in the halls of that grand event, but what impressed me was the candor with which it was all presented. Todd Hall’s management style with all these unique personalities allows for hotly contested debate and personal battles that still celebrates the achievement voters get in the end, and that is something special. Politics is tricky under the best of circumstances, but routinely pulling off successes like what Butler County enjoys is quite an accomplishment. Of course, behind the scenes come the unifying elements of Ann Becker, whom I’ve known for many years now, going back to the Cincinnati Tea Party, which she led. Debbie Lang who always brings energy to everything she’s around. Joe Statzer and Mark Murphy work on all the details. There is a long list of people behind the scenes who make the Republican Party of Butler County, such a great organization. I single out Todd Hall because it takes a unique person to give all these diverse personalities autonomy and to trust that people will find common ground and build from that position rather than break out in fistfights from the many different perspectives that so many officeholders have. Guided by a less skilled hand, everything could turn out to be a disaster rather than the success story that it continues to be. 

Ultimately, the Lincoln Day event is a good team builder, and they are always nice to go to when the people putting them on so much love what they do. But what the public gets is a strong party that represents them where it matters most. Contention in politics is good; it forces the best people and best ideas to the surface to manage on behalf of the voters, and Butler County is an example of how it should be done everywhere in the country. The Butler County Republican Party is the example that everyone should be following, especially in the newly Trump-led Republican party. The management style it takes to unify so many diverse personalities is the stuff success seminars are built on. To have an evening in the height of election season just to take a breath of fresh air is nice. But the reminder of why so many people get into public office and how an army of volunteers behind the scenes contribute their time and energy without ever thinking about pay tells a story that is worth recognizing. If not for them and the tireless hours of work that go on behind the scenes, there would not be a great Republican Party of Butler County. There would not be a Republican in every Butler County political office. The strength of the party is because of all the effort that countless people put into it, and by the leadership of Todd Hall to have just enough guiding force to keep people together just enough but not to impose on them any dictates which might threaten their unique gifts for which voters could then select as representatives. The whole evening was just as impressive as the Butler County Republican Party is itself. It reflected many thousands of hours of hard work and an ambitious eye toward tomorrow; whereas bad as things look on the national horizon, in Butler County, Ohio, all is great and getting better. If such a formula could project itself nationwide under the next Trump presidency, there is a lot to be excited about in the years to come. Because ultimately, politics is there to serve the Republic for which we all fight to make a stand, and the voters are in charge and respected by the guiding light of hard-working people who genuinely understand how to do it right.

Rich Hoffman

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