By DAVID SKOLNICK
YOUNGSTOWN — Former President Donald Trump will return Saturday to Youngstown’s Covelli Centre — the site of a rally he held five years ago — to campaign for J.D. Vance, the GOP Senate nominee, as well as Republican congressional candidates.
Trump’s July 25, 2017, rally drew about 7,000 people. Saturday’s rally is likely to reach that level. Trump is scheduled to start speaking at 7 p.m.
The doors to the Covelli Centre will open at 2 p.m. with guest speakers delivering remarks starting at 4 p.m.
Vance is likely to be the final speaker before Trump, but the former president’s organization only provided a list of speakers and not the order in which they’ll address the audience.
Other speakers on the list are U.S. Reps. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, and Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, as well as Republican congressional candidates Max Miller in the 7th District, Madison Gesiotto Gilbert in the 13th District and J.R. Majewski in the 9th District.
Among top Ohio Republicans who won’t be at Trump’s rally is Gov. Mike DeWine.
DeWine said three of his granddaughters are participating in an evening cross country meet in Cedarville at the same time as the rally and he’ll be there to support them.
“It’s a special night for us,” he said. “They’re running under the lights, which is kind of unusual for cross country.”
Free tickets for the Trump rally are available online on the events link at donaldjtrump.com. People can register for up to two tickets per cell phone number and entry is on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Traffic could be an issue for those heading to the Trump rally because Front Street, where the center is located, is currently restricted to one lane as the result of an ongoing street improvement project.
Front Street also is also where much of the parking for events at the Covelli Centre is located.
There is no parking at the Covelli Centre site, said Eric Ryan, president of JAC Management Group, which operates the center as well as the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre and Wean Park for the city.
“But there shouldn’t be a problem with parking,” he said. “We did 21,000 for Y-Live without our parking lot. People found parking, including downtown.”
Ryan was referring to the July 16 outdoor concert with Luke Bryan at the park, which is adjacent to the Covelli Centre.
Trump backed Vance in the crowded Republican primary for the open Senate seat, endorsing him a few weeks before the May 3 primary and holding an April 23 rally for him at the Delaware County Fairgrounds.
Polls show a tight race between Vance, a venture capitalist and author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” and Democrat Tim Ryan, a 10-term House member who represents much of Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
Luke Schroeder, a Vance campaign spokesman, said: “J.D. looks forward to welcoming President Trump to the Buckeye State. Tim Ryan pretends to be a moderate in his slick TV ads, but behind closed doors, he admits he’s a progressive. He claims to be an independent voice, but in D.C., he votes with (President Joe) Biden and (House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi 100 percent of the time.”
Schroeder added that Ryan lied about wanting to ban gas cars and flip-flopped on his position on Biden running for re-election.
“J.D. was born and raised in Ohio — he knows Ohioans are smarter than Tim Ryan thinks they are — he knows they won’t fall for Ryan’s despicable lies and will reject him come November,” Schroeder said.
Jordan Fuja, a Ryan campaign spokeswoman, said: “Out-of-state fraud J.D. Vance is bring his out-of-state allies to Ohio for a rally at the exact same time as the Buckeyes football game in the hopes that no one actually tunes in to watch him do damage control after he’s been cheerleading an extreme and wildly unpopular national abortion ban, suggesting women stay in violent marriages, calling rape ‘inconvenient,’ and bringing a Big Pharma mouthpiece to Ohio on part of his sham nonprofit’s self-promotional tour.”